DiCaprio and Lawrence direct a great movie
After a recent screening of Do not seek, Writer / Director Adam McKay’s New Netflix Original, star Leonardo DiCaprio explained why he made this movie. DiCaprio has long been an advocate for the environment and for years has been looking for a movie to highlight the message that climate change is killing this world and we must save it. But how do you turn this sad message into a good movie?
Of course there have been documentaries, even the most popular, but those rarely pierce. A great blockbuster action movie could get this idea across as well, but it would likely be buried in rock sets and ballads. Finally, the Oscar winner found his answer in Do not seek, a funny film without being burlesque, dramatic without being melodramatic, and brutally honest about the state of the world. It is highly improbable Do not seek will make climate deniers or covid deniers change their minds, but it’s a really fantastic attempt to do so. And at the end of the day, even if it isn’t, DiCaprio is part of another great, smart and entertaining movie film.
It is co-written and directed by McKay (The big court, but also Presenter and Half brothers). DiCaprio plays Dr. Randall Mindy, a Michigan state professor who one night directs one of his doctoral students, Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer lawrence) discovered an asteroid. But not just any asteroid: this one is heading straight for Earth and is virtually guaranteed to wipe out all life from the planet’s surface. These are the facts and while they are cataclysmic to say the least, Randall and Kate know they have to tell the world.
This world includes President Janie Orlean, played by Meryl Streep; his chief of staff and his son Jason (Jonah Hill); a scientific colleague named Dr Teddy Oglethorpe (Rob Morgan); and many, many more played by Cate Blanchett, TimothÃ©e Chalamet, Mark Rylance, Melanie Lynskey, Ron Perlman, Ariana Grande, Tyler Perry, Himesh Patel, and more. It’s a cast that, like DiCaprio’s enthusiasm, shows almost universal confidence in the material and its importance. Unfortunately for the characters of Randall and Kate, the world is less confident and they are first faced with almost total skepticism and neglect … just as one would expect our world to react to the announcement. of an irreversible disaster. Slowly but surely the message gets through and Do not seek takes on several unexpected and clever twists, ranging from hilariously laughing out loud to completely heartbreaking and downright gloomy.
That a film with such a serious subject is not only entertaining and propelling, but also funny and intelligent without being judgmental, is a small miracle. Fortunately, balancing seems almost easy in McKay’s hands. Her cast is so beyond talent, their ability to bounce off each other makes everything feel very natural. Nothing is only funny or only dramatic. Everything is jumbled up in the right way. Some scenes are interspersed with archive footage when there is a stronger message that needs to be conveyed, and as the situation becomes more and more dramatic, the McKay brings the drama back to something more heartwarming. He’s five steps ahead of the crowd the whole way and that works wonders.
As for the main characters, Lawrence’s Kate is the most angry with the world and becomes the recognizable mirror to the audience, especially as she is increasingly mistreated. DiCaprio’s Randall is a little more willing to compromise his beliefs, and the choice takes him to uncomfortably darker places. Plus, as you’d expect from two Oscar winners, both navigate these arcs with nuance and grace. Every emotion and reaction is exactly where it needs to be to keep the movie and the characters together. Playing the president and his son, Streep and Hill are basically comedic relief and have some super twisted, silly scenes. History might suggest it’s more in Hill’s wheelhouse, but Streep stands right next to him, reminding us that she is possibly the best actress to ever exist.
Along the way, McKay introduces new characters and situations that also reflect the idea of ââthe world’s inevitable fate in other ways. Rylance is a character supposed to be the Jeff Bezos / Elon Musk type who thinks money and technology have all the answers. Blanchet and Perry are news hosts who try to make the news sicker, brighter, and sunnier. Patel is a journalist always looking for the sensational angle. Grande is a celebrity with no prospect. And as each of these characters move in and out of Randall and Kate’s story, audiences must analyze their own lives and thoughts.
Put it all together and yes, Do not seek it’s great. But what takes it to a whole new level is its malleable universality. After enduring nearly two years of a deadly global pandemic, watching a movie about people who disbelieve in basic science and facts to their own detriment seems far too familiar and relevant. However, McKay wrote Do not seek long before covid-19, on the ever-present horrors of climate change. Then there are also the criticisms of the media, generational disconnections, corporate institutions, etc. The fact that it works on so many levels allows each viewer to engage with it in their own way, and that only elevates whatever is happening on the screen.
Do not seek won’t be a movie for everyone. It can be a bit judgmental, a bit awkward, and a bit on the nose. But these are just simple echoes on the radar compared to the big one in the center: that Adam McKay and his incredible cast made a popcorn movie about climate change that will hopefully have an impact like the one in which the characters warn everyone. It opens in select theaters on December 10 and hits Netflix on December 24.
Wondering where our RSS feed went? You can pick up the new one here.