DON’T LOOK UP is Adam McKay’s satirical masterpiece. At least we think so. But most of the critics aren’t in our corner.
In this episode, we take on the critics themselves. Why didn’t they like this film? Where did we agree? Where do we disagree?
To find the answer we systematically argue with the four major critiques of the film. 1) Is too “on the nose”? 2) Is too mean-spirited? 3) Is it a poorly made film? 4) Is it too preachy?
And then we get into the heart of this story… What is the most meaningful scene? Who is the most meaningful character? What is this film trying to say?
The moment we saw this film we knew there was a lot of meaning to dissect. Download this episode and listen before it really is too late.
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Don't Look Up
Rob: Hey everyone. Welcome to the meaning of the movie or podcast about what matters most when it comes to the film. I am your host, Rob Stennett and I'm joined today by my co-host Andrew Harmon. Andrew, what
Andrew: is. How is it going, Rob excited to be here, excited that you are all listening on wherever you are driving in your car, or, you know, uh, ignoring work than maybe you're supposed to be doing and listening to this podcast.
Andrew: Instead love that. Uh, if you want to also continue to ignore whatever you are suppose to be doing right now and maybe rate or review this, that helps out a lot. We're a new podcast and, uh, it helps get the word out into the ether. If you just drop a little review and, uh, you know, say how much you love the meeting.
Rob: Yeah. So please do that. Review it, wherever your Spotify, apple podcasts, wherever you're listening, review the podcast and subscribe. Uh, lets you know, when a new episode is coming and we're going to try to have an episode every other week as we're launching this podcast. And today Andrew, we are talking about Don't Look Up, Don't Look Up.
Rob: And so if you don't know what Don't Look Up as you should stop this right now, go watch the movie. It's a Netflix movie with more star power than you can possibly imagine. Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Blanchett, you know, just a list stars going all the way through. And I saw this movie over Christmas and I texted you and I was like, Andrew, we have to talk about this.
Rob: And I said, have you seen the movie? And you said, no. And I said, Andrew, you need to watch this movie. So here's my question. You went and watched the movie. How did you feel watching this movie or after you'd seen this. Sort of
Andrew: in shock. Uh, I felt like someone finally understood how crazy reality was and made a movie about it.
Andrew: And I felt absolutely. I felt so seen and like understood. It was very odd to watch such a depressing movie and feel so
Rob: good about it. Yeah. That was my experience as well. And why I wanted you to watch it because I had these two simultaneous feelings. One was sick to my stomach. At watching the reality of what these characters were going through.
Rob: And then two, I felt this relief of like, oh, that's what I've felt like. This movie encapsulates. What the reality that I feel like I've been walking in in the last couple of years, you know what I mean?
Andrew: Totally. I feel like, you know, you're like driving down the road. Well, this is in LA. They'll have like billboards for movies and stuff, and it'll be like a quote from some review.
Andrew: It was like real big on the, on like the billboard or whatever. I feel like the big quote that should be next to this movie and all the ads. Never has hopelessness felt so cathartic. Yeah, that's good. Um, I mean, it was the strangest feeling of feeling like, yes, this feels so hopeless and I feel so good about that.
Andrew: Finally. It's like a relief to actually see what I feel like I've been feeling spelled out so
Rob: wonderfully so interesting for me is like friends on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, like kinda my social circles, where I run with people. People were talking about this movie and like loving, But when I walked into starting movie, I kind of had a wall up because the critic reviews were Savage.
Rob: I mean, they were just, it's got a 55% on rotten tomatoes, but which is much worse, which is, which is really bad, especially when you're considering a director like McKay this a list cast. It's pretty Savage. But then reading the reviews. I clicked on him after the movie was over and I was like, oh, they're lambasted this movie.
Rob: Absolutely. Um, and that was surprising to me. Did you know the reviews going into it or when did you kind of see you
Andrew: had, I mentioned them to me and I read one and it was so bad that I was like, I don't want this in my head when I watched the movie. So I'd only read one before I went in, but like it was calling it like a bomb.
Andrew: Like I thought it was going to be something that was just an app. Train wreck. Like, you know, when you get a star that had cast and make like justice league, and then it's just the worst movie you've ever seen. I thought it was going to be just something that fell on its face and it doesn't like, I don't quite understand the vitriol in the
Rob: critic review justice leak is a great example of like, oh yeah, this is going to be so great.
Rob: And then it just completely falls off. I almost expected it to be cats. I was expected to be like, oh, this is just so tone deaf. So out of there. And so I think that for my first viewing, I was actually like, ready to hate, watch it. And then I watched it and I was like, oh no, I actually think this is good.
Rob: And then I watched it again and I'm like, oh no, I think this is great. Now maybe a year down the line, I'll listen to this podcast and I'll be so embarrassed that I stood behind this movie. But as of the beginning of 2022, I'm here to tell you. That I'm on team. Don't look up Mr. McKay. If you're listening.
Rob: I think you made a really great movie that people are missing the point of or not, uh, getting what it is. I
Andrew: think so too, based on his like body of work that he's been building to me, this is his Bohemian Rhapsody. It feels like the Magnum Opus of like him using all of the tools in his toolbox to make something really dense and really complex while telling a pretty straightforward story.
Andrew: Like he hasn't done a little. But it is layered beyond belief.
Rob: Yeah. I do think it demands multiple watches, but I think what's so interesting about this movie is how it's received. I actually made a list of tomato meter reviews that are better than don't look up. You ready for my list? So this is
Andrew: movies that are out right now that have better tomato scores than don't look up.
Rob: Yes. All right. They're out in theaters or freshly streaming and better tomato scores. Here's my list. Sing to. Matrix resurrection house of Gucci venom. Let there be carnage. Oh man. Pop patrol the movie Clifford, the big red dog. American underdog, Ghostbusters afterlife. That whole list of movies, critics are telling me like, and I get tomato scores, aren't everything.
Rob: And they're a little bit nuanced, but what is your fact is every movie that I just listed has a better score than don't look up. And that's insane to me. You don't,
Andrew: that's something that's led by Meryl Streep and Leonardo DiCaprio to have a worst tomato score. Then Clifford, the big red dye
Rob: or pop patrol the movie I'm like.
Rob: I'm so fascinated with this conversation of why this movie is so hated that I went and read through all the reviews. And I picked four big critiques about this movie that the reviewers had. And I want to kind of take those critiques one by one. And Andrew, I want you and I lowly podcasters to take on all the critics of America on.
Rob: Of their critiques versus our take on it. Okay.
Andrew: All right. You up for that? I think I am. So here we go. Number one
Rob: is it's too on the nose kind of bad satire or even it's just not funny. So is this movie bad satire, Andrew?
Andrew: No. I mean, the answer to that question is no. Um, at satire is making fun of something by taking it and elevating it.
Andrew: So like Jonathan's swift thing where, you know, he talks about like eating babies, right? Like it's taking the idea of capitalism and elevating it, or a doctor Strangelove. Right? Yep. It takes the idea of the fear of someone that might be a little bit incompetent or a little bit crazy accidentally setting off a nuclear war and fills the room with several people that are like bumbling idiots.
Andrew: Right. But it's still about the thing it's still dead on. And I think this movie does that. The problem is there are so many examples in society today of people that are so absurd. The news is so absurd nowadays, that trying to make a comedy about it is just reflecting the news. So it feels like real life.
Andrew: It doesn't feel elevated. It feels like you're watching something. That's real because that's what the daily news feels like right now.
Rob: Part of the criticism I've seen is people calling out like, oh, it's almost like it's a documentary or something like that. But I think that's a little cheap because I watched it and I was like, this is doing something really smart.
Rob: What it does is one tweening into a very specific movie genre, which is, this is Armageddon deep impact, uh, 2012, uh, day after tomorrow, all these kind of apocalyptic into the world
Andrew: movies. Right? Right. It's any movie Roland Emmerich has ever done. It's our,
Rob: it's our boy, which are almost satires in and of itself.
Andrew: Right. Which to be fair. Independent stays mashed base.
Rob: I mean, I ride with independent state, but yeah, it's, it's very much like I love the first five minutes of this movie because it starts off just like a Roland Emmerich movie where Jennifer Lawrence is there. She's with the massive telescope in a science lab, kind of doing something.
Rob: And then she has the aha discovery right there and it's played for zero. Laughs. It's totally serious. It's totally straight. And then after this epic scene, What there is, is a Jack handy quote. And if you don't know who Jack handy is, he's kind of the Saturday night live like inspirational quote guy of things.
Rob: They're just funny and absurd. And so to have this really serious scene followed by a Jack handy quote, lets you know, like this is the world that we're entering into and that's the tone of the whole movie, which. One scene is going to be really serious and heavy. And then the next scene is going to be completely comic and absurd.
Rob: And that's kind of the playbook of the whole way through. And I think he sets out the promise of what that is early on and he executes it all the way through the movie. I
Andrew: agree. It's not just that every scene is heavy. I would say that that pristine just feels real. It feels like the beginning of a normal Saifai action movie, where you're meeting your cast of lovable characters.
Andrew: You've got the year, no year. Jeff Goldbloom me scientist professor in this case played by Leonardo DiCaprio, right? That's like sort of the underdog, like you're just meeting all these lovable characters and then suddenly they get thrust into the limelight and have to go meet the president that normally would be played by Morgan Freeman and would be a great person.
Andrew: And then the movie takes a left turn. Right. It feels like we're off to the races on something that we're going to like know in love. And then it hits you with that Jack handy quote and like undermined you. Right. So it's like, Nope, like we're gonna, we're going to undermine you. And almost every turn. I think it's crazy.
Rob: I've heard so many critics say this is bad satire. Unlike Dr. Strangelove, Dr. Strangelove is universally loved as like maybe the greatest satire to ever be made. Right. And sorry, I rewatched it. This movie has so much in common with it total and Dr. Strange level was really on the nose as well. You mentioned it earlier, but like this is about military guys, very much being in competent with a bomb.
Rob: There's a scene where the soldiers are there and like this Vietnam style foot war, and right behind them is a sign that says peace is our profession. And so you see dudes like shooting each other blowing stuff up and it says pieces, our profession. Completely on the nose. It's completely broad. It's not subtle at all.
Rob: Right. And so that's why I'm like, I don't get this criticism. If you're going to leverage that criticism, I'm like, well, then you should do the same thing about Dr. Strange love and say, oh, that movie's too broad. So I don't know how Dr. Strange love can't be too broad. And this one is like, it's, it's confusing to me.
Rob: One of the
Andrew: things that Dr. Strangelove does that don't. Does differently though, I would say, is that so many of the characters in Dr. Strange love with a few exceptions are actually normal people and it's the situation that is absurd. And so it's a little bit easier to find a connection point with a lot of the characters in most scenes.
Andrew: There's only really a couple people in Dr. Strangelove that are truly incompetent or yeah. Right. The general that sets it off. And the George C. Scott character, who's kind of like a silly chauvinist, right? But the satire is the situation. The fact that we're in a situation in which everyone doing their job, the best.
Andrew: Can accidentally nuke the world. That's what the satire is like. The president is trying to do the right thing. The people in the airplane are trying to do the right thing, right? They're not maniacs. They're not stupid. One of them might be a little bit like of a hick, but like they're all just people trying to do their job.
Andrew: And it's the situation that is absurd. That's triggered by a couple absurd people. Whereas don't look up. You've got a few normal people surrounded by these absurd people that very troublingly feel like actual, real life allegories of people that we see every day in the news in politics in power. There are very few good guy.
Andrew: And don't look up and I think that makes it hard to stomach if you feel attacked.
Rob: Well, I think what's so interesting about the climate today versus then Dr. Strangelove actually begins with the card that says, Hey, this actually can't really happen. This is fake, you know, because it feels so real even though to us, it's completely absurd.
Rob: But today. Um, I mean, I mentioned this to a friend, but like the last episode of black mirror was in 2019, because life feels like an episode of black mirror right now. It's like, we can't even make new episodes. Cause it's so crazy Saturday and the pale right Saturday and the live writers talk about like, it's so hard to do a Sean Spicer press conference joke because Sean Spicer press conferences feel like a Saturday night live routine.
Rob: And so it's like, it's, it's so much harder to make satire these days. Like, I don't know when the last good satire was. And by the way, you know what, my favorite kind of movie. Uh, satire. And as I was watching this, I think part of the reason I loved it so much is cause I was like, oh, my soul is parched for a really good satire.
Rob: They come out so infrequently where I'm like, I don't know when the last good one was. Um, maybe sorry to bother you, which is a great film. Um, but there, there are few and far between, and I think I love movies, like network. I love movies like election fight club, these movies. Very satirical. And so I'm just like, maybe they don't come out that often, which is why we're not used to them
Andrew: because real life feels like a satire.
Andrew: It's hard to write something that is elevated because the things you're trying to satirize are so absurd in real
Rob: life right now. And yet we both said we felt relief watching this movie, and we're not the only ones because it was like, oh wait, I felt like, oh, I'm not crazy because what we're walking through right now is crazy.
Rob: And this movie holds a mirror up to it in a way that good art should. So let's go to, let's go to our next criticism, which is, this critics are saying it's too. Mean-spirited is this movie too? Mean-spirited Andrew.
Andrew: Well, I don't think it's too mean-spirited I think it's sharp. I think it's punching for sure.
Andrew: It's not pulling punches, but I think all of the hits are fair. So is it mean yes. Is it. I don't think so. What do you think?
Rob: I mean, I agree. I think like, okay, so I wrote down a list of who all was being satirized in this movie, big business, big tech leaders, political figures, media outlets. And I'm talking to major media outlets, CNN, New York times, uh, Kelly and Ryan.
Rob: Good morning, America type morning shows pop stars, social media influencers, like that's who the bulls-eye is. And so I thought, I feel like that those are fair subjects. A lot of times when you hear satire, you hear you punch up. And I feel like if we can't punch up at big business or pop stars or social media influencers or CNN, I don't know what we punch up at.
Rob: And so I felt like the subject for it was fair enough.
Andrew: I mean, this really is punching up. It's punching up at a lot of people though. It's that whole issue. And then I think in the second act, when it gets into the, like the actual don't look up, right? We're like half population is like, don't look up the other half is like, just look up.
Andrew: I do think it turns, and it's not taking on maybe people in power anymore, but there is a turn in the movie where it's showing the complicity of the population of all of us. Through through social media and through our like tribalism, but it's not picking one tribe over the other, like the just look up group feels equally as complicit.
Andrew: They take something that Jennifer Lawrence, his character is trying to do to just like create sanity. She says, just look up. And then it becomes a hashtag that then gets, don't look up hashtag to fight it. And it shows the complicity of all of us. So in that case, I guess it's punching down at the entire population.
Andrew: But to me, it was like, it was fair. It was showing how all of us are complicit in this absurdity that we've created as a society. I
Rob: think what was really interesting is whenever there's lots of people on stage or big screens or that sort of stuff, it felt like it was satirizing. But then when people are in restaurants, like there's that scene where everyone's in the restaurant and people are going up to Jennifer Lawrence.
Rob: Please just tell us, like you see the, the humanizing of people in there every day. And so I think there's a big difference and this movie's talking about it. And man, I have found this so true. There's a big difference of people when they're behind a screen and people when they're in front of your face and this movie is very interested in that difference and tells that story really well.
Andrew: And I think that's the thing that a lot of reviewers going back to the whole reviewer thing, I think that's a thing that I think a lot of these reviews. Are missing is it's getting hung up on like the issues are like, you know, how it may be satirizing and administration of the government or how et cetera is how we handle climate change, which it is.
Andrew: It absolutely is. It's not, not doing that. But I think the thing that is so on this movie's mind that I haven't heard people talking about is what you just said, this idea of how we undermine social communication completely so that our human connection is completely severed to the point where. We'll allow an asteroid to destroy the planet willingly because we can't talk to one another.
Andrew: And that to me is the central heart of the movie that comes out more and more and ends up being the final scene really in its bleakness, but is about this family ignoring what's happening in the world to just be together. I think that's what the movie is actually has in its heart. You know what Adam, a Casey's as the solution to the absurdity in our society right now.
Andrew: Yeah. I think one
Rob: thing really interesting about this movie as it was written before COVID and so it was, it was produced during COVID, but the kind of script and story idea, I wonder what I would think of this movie. If it came out in 2019, You know, like what I have for sure as strong of a positive reaction, because I honestly think like, yes, it is a climate change movie, but you could insert any topic you can insert COVID you could say.
Rob: You know, racial discourse, you can insert economic Mancha discourse, like so many things. And the way that like one big hot button issue, all of a sudden splits us up into each sides. Everyone goes to their talking points, social media comes after it. And it's just this almost predictable play of how we all attack each other and this kind of ideological civil war we're in.
Rob: And so I think that's what makes it so powerful to me. No, this is bigger than a climate change movie. This is a movie about our breakdown as being able to communicate with each other, as humans, as family members, as a society, like it just encapsulates it so well.
Andrew: And I think that's what hit me on the second watch is how many of the characters that at first watch you sort of go, oh, this is, uh, an analog to good morning America or, okay.
Andrew: We're making fun of this show, but how the characters in these situations, whether it's the tech billionaire or whatever, there's so much. Are they able to relate to people or not? Can they have intimate human connection? That's what I like. So many of the characters is at their character flaw of their like caricature has to do with that.
Andrew: And that really hit me on a second one.
Rob: Okay. Here's my third one that I've kind of distilled, which is reason. Number three, critics hate this movie is because it's poorly executed bad editing is a big one that comes up bad writing. I've heard lots of people say the ideas were really good, but the filmmaking just wasn't good.
Rob: Is that true? Andrew? Is this a poorly made film? I
Andrew: want to agree with one of these just so that I don't sound pretending. But like, no, I think it's really, well-made like, this is the one that blows my mind the most with critics is because I can see the general population being thrown off, by the way, it's edited, by the way, it's constructed.
Andrew: Because similar to like an case, other movies where he's a little bit out on a limb, like a big short, he does this where he kind of like, he changes up the playbook of how to use to watching a movie. And he certainly does that in this he's using his own rules for how he's editing for how he's going between.
Andrew: Um, but that's something that critics normally like, they see it as innovative. They see the storytelling tools they see through the, what the population normally misses. So blows my mind that the critics see this as bad editing, because I think all of the choices that are strange are on purpose and are really effective.
Andrew: Both. Keeping you emotionally with the characters and for moving the story through exposition that would otherwise be really clunky. I think it's like almost a masterclass in how to do something fun and innovative on
Rob: the critics that I saw said it was kind of like, he just found a bunch of stock footage and just cut it throughout the movie.
Rob: He just, there's kind of like these stock footage inserts. And like, I like, you know, I can see that criticism of like, oh, We're in a Kaiser Permanente ad, and this was supposed to be a like serious epic movie. But I found that footage that it would cut away to really effective because it kept showing like one animals who are innocent in all of this.
Rob: And it was just a reminder as you saw, like these beautiful kind of nature shots and then two. Prayer at the temple, it showed people eating food. There's this scene where a baby is just taking a bath that almost made me cry because it was just like, oh, there's so much innocence of just life that's happening.
Rob: That's being destroyed by this discourse. And the life is just trying to go on and it's innocent. And so I found all of that kind of like quote unquote, stock footage, cutting to be. I can see where that criticism is coming from. If there wasn't a reason, but I found it to be motivated. I found it to be really interesting.
Rob: But it keeps reminding us like what's at stake
Andrew: almost every, um, it does it, even those little cutaways we'll eat sometimes have like a narrative of themselves. Right.
Rob: I have a couple other moments where the editing was awesome just to praise it. Okay. So I'm going to go all in one is there's this moment where they're, where they're first kind of pitching the idea to president lean.
Rob: So it's like Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, and they're in the room with Jonah hill and Meryl Streep. What's so interesting in that scene, as they're cutting away to like weird closeups of the neck, where to closeups of wrists, where to close up the foreheads, like the cutting is really, really strange.
Rob: But what I felt when I was watching it is if you've ever been in a meeting like a really important business meeting or an important job interview, and you're just picking up on weird, someone's scratching their arm and weird little details. Like I thought that's what this movie was doing in that moment.
Rob: It was, you felt the pressure of them trying to get this idea out so much that they just did all these manic quick cuts to let them know like the editing actually let us know what Leo and what Jen were feeling in that.
Andrew: Right. It makes you uncomfortable. Cause you're not watching the scene. Like you would only watch a scene, but that's how Leo feels.
Andrew: So it's like putting you in his shoes. There's another moment where it did the weird, like cutaway to something random where Jennifer Lawrence is like screaming about something. She's like trying to get someone to understand. And she's like mid scream and it cuts away to like a shot of like the moon eclipsing the earth or something like it's some crazy solar system shot and immediately the feeling of that is how.
Andrew: Monstrously indifferent. The universe says to the presence of man, right? Like this is the biggest thing in the world to Jennifer Lawrence, right. Or her character, she's screaming about it. And then to cut to out in space. And it's like nothing. She's saying, man, look, there's an asteroid coming. There's just silence.
Andrew: Right? Like the universe is vast and you screen. Affects nothing. And like the feeling of that, of the hopelessness of her trying to care about something and how vast the universe is, they did it without anyone having to say that on screen, they did it with a cut, with an edit, and I was like, this is great filmmaking.
Andrew: This is using all of the tools. I don't know why a film critic, every film critics, he was like, can't see that in space.
Rob: No one here's your screen. Even law, right? Exactly. Yeah. I just thought like, these are really creative choices. Are they unconventional? Sure. But I found them to be so interesting and again, ultimately, What is criticism other than how does it make you feel?
Rob: And so I can't tell someone else how to feel, but I'm just here kind of pounding the pavement saying, I thought the choice is had a lot of smart decision-making behind them. And some thought, and another moment that comes to mind is actually. When they're filming on the cell phone, like a little girl who sang the Lord's prayer, and then you cut to the spaceships that are like huge and getting ready to launch, and you have this, like, it
Andrew: feels like a Michael bay.
Andrew: Exactly. It's like the helicopters up there. I'm like, oh yeah, that's from Armageddon or
Rob: exactly. So it's going full Michael bay, but two frames before it are something that you would watch on Tik TOK or, you know, whatever else. It was just so small. And. And there were just all sorts of like juxtapositions like that, that really worked for me.
Rob: Okay. So we're both on the team that this is not poorly executed. It's good. Yeah. It's
Andrew: hitting all the places it wants to.
Rob: Number four is it's too preachy and the message won't resonate, and those are kind of two different things. It's too preachy. Meaning the movies, messages preaching right at you. And then another criticism on top of that has been.
Rob: This movie is not going to affect climate change. Like it's not going to move the needle on it. It's not really going to change anything. So why are we even making the story? What do you have to those criticisms? Lander
Andrew: is this movie too preachy? It's the same answer I have to, is it to mean like, is it preachy?
Andrew: Yes. Is it too preachy? No, I think it's saying exactly what it wants to say. And will it affect anyone's view on climate change? No, but the thing I think that people are like missing, and I think it's because everyone's already made up their mind, which I think is what the movie is saying. It's sad that.
Andrew: And that's what it satirizing. It's not satirizing the idea of climate change. It's satirizing, society's current view of the whole thing. And I think they use the climate change satire as an avenue into a social satire that hits about a half dozen other things that I actually do think that message might resonate.
Andrew: If people look past the obvious COVID climate change allegory.
Rob: So this is one of the ones that I'm going to say. Is too preachy for me is the idea of actually what's happened after the movie. I've read interviews with Adam McKay scene, like Leonardo DiCaprio screenings. And they're like, Hey, this is what the movie means.
Rob: It means X, Y, and Z. When they talk about what the movie means, I actually do feel myself being preached at. And I feel my eyes like kind of rolling, like, okay, whatever. I would much rather just say, Hey, we made a movie, watch it for yourself. And what do you think? Like give room for the viewer to bring some interpretations.
Rob: Like you guys worked really hard to make your movie now let audiences and everyone else debate when they're saying, Hey, this is what this means. And if you don't like this, you're not going to get it. Those kinds of things, um, are off-putting. And so that like the conversation around the movie, I feel more preachy than the movie itself.
Andrew: I think that's true. Now. I also do. NV having to do a massive press store that you have to contractually do because this movie costs like a hundred million dollars. So you have to go do a press store for Netflix in order for people to go watch it. Right. You make a movie that is clearly about something and have to answer an hour worth of questions.
Andrew: It would be hard not to start saying those things, right? Like what else are you going to say? I had fun with Meryl Streep, like maybe, but like I do think it would be, it would be difficult, especially if you're someone like Leonardo DiCaprio who spent the last 20 years actually really caring about this stuff.
Andrew: He now made a satire about it. It would be really difficult not to start doing that. That doesn't make it any less off off-putting. But like, if you're going to do a press store, like kind of what else we're going to talk about. Yeah. And I, and
Rob: I can see that, but I think. The movie being so strong message with people talking about it afterwards.
Rob: It's like, okay. I mean, cheesecake, like this is too rich. It's too much. Like it's kind
Andrew: of turning me off. I hear other people have maybe that conversation, but not Leo. And, uh, Adam McKay, like I don't need the, the makers of it saying it at me. You've already said it in your movie.
Rob: I remember when the Sopranos ended and it kind of has this famous controversial ending and everyone tried to pen David Chase down.
Rob: What is this ending about? What does it mean? He's like, what do you think it means when he kept kind of turning it back to the viewers? And I just think it's a more interesting way to handle it. He got asked the question a hundred times. Every talk, show every vanity fair article, but he always put it back to the viewers.
Rob: And I do wish they would do that because this movie does have a strong message, but I think the more that we get to interact with it and like put our own meaning into it, the less preachy it becomes, because
Andrew: at the end of the day, I feel like the heart of this movie is about people connecting and talking and not just getting all of their stuff from someone on a screen.
Andrew: Yeah, maybe that would have been
Rob: nice. The one criticism that's crazy to me is that this movie is not going to end climate change, and that feels like such a weird way to criticize them. Like would we criticize do the right thing because it doesn't end racism. Would you criticize, you know, a political election movie because it doesn't fix politics.
Rob: Like if you could take something, do you have to fix that thing as well? Or like really quote, unquote, move the needle. That makes no sense to me at all. It's a
Andrew: bad critique because that's not what a satire is for. Uh, it's that tire is to make people talk and over time that came. Change things, right? Dr.
Andrew: Strangelove didn't end the cold war, right? Like the cold war ended 30 years later and we still have a nuclear arsenal that is still, if you read articles,
Rob: troublingly mishandled. Yeah. Th this is not a movie's job. And I don't understand anything of like, the movie has to fix it. It's like no, a movie or a story makes us think about it makes us wrestle through it.
Rob: It makes us have conversations like this, but did it move? The needle is a asinine. Metric to judge any film by like that's ridiculous. And I think
Andrew: when a society starts talking about something more and more than you see a needle being moved, but it's an integrated thing, right? Like Dr. Strangelove didn't end the cold war, but like, it was part of a conversation that eventually led to people entering politics that had different priorities, yada, yada, yada, as well as dozens and hundreds of other things and other news stories and other TV shows, right?
Andrew: When you hit a certain amount of weight on something that. Society changes. And this is one piece of hay in the haystack. And so yeah, to, will this change the whole course of whatever talking about, of course not, but that doesn't make it any less worth
Rob: doing. So those are our kind of big rebuttals to the fourth things that critics say.
Rob: But one thing we like to do on this podcast, as well as talk about a few categories. So I want to jump into these categories, Andrew, starting with this. What's the most meaningful scene? Like what seemed to you really stood out as most meaningful? Well, I
Andrew: think there's a couple of really obvious, super meaningful scenes.
Andrew: Like Leo's outburst in the middle or, um, maybe like the, the end or the dinner table. There's some kind of big ones that like the movie certainly is packing a lot of meaning around. And I think there's a lot of conversation to be had about those. But I think my most meaningful scene that jumped out to me on the second one.
Andrew: Was weirdly enough, the scene where Leo's character and Caitlyn Chet's character are in bed together. And they're talking about whether or not they actually know one another. When I first watched the movie, their whole affair plot line was actually like my least favorite part. And I was anticipating making this my like least meaningful scene or least meaningful character was that plot line.
Andrew: And then on a second watch, that seems struck me so hard. As they were talking about whether or not they knew each other and the two of their expectations about what that meant. And so Keith Lincoln's character begrudgingly says like, okay, fine. Let's get to know each other. Let's talk about something that has meaning.
Andrew: And she lists off a bunch of things about herself and everything. She says reads like a social media profile, right? Yeah. It
Rob: felt like a LinkedIn profile almost. This is right. These are all my accomplishments. And
Andrew: honestly, all of them are pretty interesting. She says she speaks a certain number of languages.
Andrew: She's like slept with multiple ex presidents. It's like all interesting party conversations. Like, oh, this is all interesting stuff, but none of it is intimate stuff. That's not the kind of thing that actually helps you get to know
Rob: someone like the speech she had given before. Right? Like how many beds is she laid in and given this same speech to some other.
Rob: I actually thought watching.
Andrew: Right. And then Leo goes, okay. And then he lists like his things. And like, these are things about me to get to know me and all of his stuff is like, not nearly as cool. It's not nearly as important. And some of that honestly is a little bit awkward. Like he was talking about like how his family dog just died recently and how he cried a lot.
Andrew: And I was like, oh bro, like, that's not gonna win you any points. And then what I realized was I, as the viewer was emotionally more interested in Cate Blanchett list of random factoids, then Leo's characters, intimate details about what was in his heart and who he was as a person. And that that's the problem, the, my emotional reaction to that scene.
Andrew: And he was just. A moment. Cause obviously like Leo is the hero in the scene. Right. I was tracking with what he was doing, but like that my emotional reaction to, oh, that's awkward. That's too intimate. That's too personal. No one wants to hear that about you. Right? Say something fun. Say something clever is the problem.
Rob: Yeah. That same thought. I was like, okay, why are you not doing this? And I actually had the thought and we haven't even talked about that about the performances in this movie, which are. But I actually thought, like, there is no way Leonardo DiCaprio could get Kate Blanchet. And that's what like, and then I remember thinking like, how was that an actual thought crossing my head, but I remember thinking like, oh, he's going to mess it up with her.
Rob: And then I thought, no, why am I rooting for this relationship to work? And why am I rooting for him to not embarrass him? And actually what he's saying is not embarrassing. And so I felt myself taken in by the same kind of drugs he was, which was their approval and her beauty, and then feeling disgusted that like, oh, that stuff actually matters to me as a viewer.
Rob: And what does that say about me? So I think that's a great choice for a meaningful
Andrew: it, again, blows my mind that this wasn't written after COVID because I felt like his whole thing about him being kind of like a normal looking dude, but like referred to as like the hot scientist, I was like, this is an Anthony Fowchee thing.
Andrew: Right? They are, this is fully talking about Tony Fowchee. And I was like, oh no, this was written before anyone even knew who Dr. Fowchee was. And that's crazy to me that like, they created a Dr. Fowchee analog in the script prior to COVID ever happening. And us as a society, like, you know, canonizing Dr.
Andrew: Fowchee to be clear. I think that compassion is great, but like, that's what happened.
Rob: Right. No, it's amazing. Kind of this idea, this scientist who no one knew about who all of a sudden became this central voice and face for something like that was Leo. Well, my most meaningful scene, a couple of them that come to mind one real quick throw away.
Rob: One is after Jennifer Lawrence's character goes and she gets fired from her job. She goes and backs for her family's house and they open the door. And there's just this moment where they opened the door and her parents are both standing there, like blocking the door. Hey, um, we're for all the jobs, the common it's going to create.
Rob: So don't bring any of your anti-Common stuff in here. And it's just so heartbreaking that her parents, before she even says hi before they say, Hey, are you okay, honey? Just boom, go straight to the talking points right to it. And you can see her spirit, just a flight of even my own. Yeah. And like,
Andrew: again, that felt like that should've been like this really for like where, for the jobs, the comment is going to create should have been this really elevated super satirical moment where you, as you were, it'd be like, that would never happen.
Andrew: And watching that scene, I was like, oh my gosh. Like, I, this feels like families that I know about about COVID right. Like, oh, We want to wear masks at Thanksgiving, but we believe that wearing a mask is anti freedom. And so like people aren't eating Thanksgiving together. Right. I was like, this feels real.
Andrew: Like this feels I've seen this conversation. Yeah. And it
Rob: doesn't vibe was so smart. My other moment that really like encapsulated the meaning of the movie is you mentioned earlier, but there's this scene where all of a sudden Leo realizes like, okay, there's a plan. That's not going to work and we're going to all die.
Rob: And he gets on the. I forgot what the morning show's called, but it's called like the daily rip, I think daily
Rob: incredible fake title for a news show by the way. And so he gets in the daily rip kind of to do his little segment. And this is another great editing where they're kind of like editing him, putting on his makeup and then cutting back and forth.
Rob: And you see this tension building in him. And finally he has this like Howard Beale from network type of like on-camera meltdown and he totally melts down. But what someone. As he says, like he looks at, you know, Tyler Perry, who's awesome, by the way, in this movie. And he says, you know what? It was a great job.
Rob: We don't always have to be clever or smart or funny. Sometimes we just need to be able to save things to. And that whole speech about that idea was so resonant to me of like, we don't know how to communicate anymore because we only listen to each other. We listen to the person who packages it the best or who says it the most dramatic or the most funny, but we can't even like communicate with each other in a basic level anymore.
Rob: And his heart cry for that. And then what he says in the end of the scene is like, I want to go home. It's just so powerful to me. I'm like, that's the core. That's the meaning of the movie? Absolutely. Okay. So what about meaningful? Who's your most meaningful character? Andrew, this movie
Andrew: has like, obviously a couple of like real people at the center and then just a ton of impact characters around the side.
Andrew: All of which are like representative of something that McKay and company see as a problem. And the one that jumped out to me the most was, uh, mark. Rylance his character, the sir Peter issue. Well, He reminded me as I was watching it more and more. He reminded me of a, just slightly more elevated version of what mark Zuckerberg will be like when he's 60 of like these tech people like, uh, Elon Musk or mark Zuckerberg who have incredible IQ.
Andrew: Right. Really, really, really smart people. But they're eating. Is just not there. Right. Their emotional ability to really connect with people is just not there. And that's not like a hit on them personally, but like factual, right? Like their ability to converse and yeah, I mean, late and watch
Rob: mark Zuckerberg talk about meta universe, that sort of stuff.
Rob: And it's just like, what is this guy talking about? And it feels like a robot in the lab and I've actually heard a bunch of people criticize mark. Rylance his character of like too weird, too bizarre. What was he doing with that performance? And I just, again, disagree, I'm like, this feels like a tech billionaire who kind of lives in his lab all day and then comes out and just says crazy stuff where you're like, what's happening in
Andrew: And he's like the obvious bag I have the movie, I guess like Meryl Streep and Jonah hill at the administration is there. Mark Rylance has guy is like, the guy was pulling all the strings. He's the puppet master. He's sort of the ultimate big, bad guy. Right. And his first scene, his very first line when he walks out and, and does his like Ted talk or like, you know, the equivalent of like an apple pitch or like the apple show?
Andrew: Yeah. Whenever they like release a new iPhone, they do one of these, right. So he he's doing his equivalent of that. And his very first line of the movie is he looks at the crowd and he says, really, I see all my life's work has been driven by the inexpressible need for a. Who would understand and sooth me.
Andrew: And as soon as he says, inexpressible need for a friend, the camera cuts to the little girl who standing right next to him who looks up at him like in awe. And if you watch that little girl. I think it's a great performance. Honestly, she's got two lines in the movie because it incredible performance, right?
Andrew: If you go back and watch that scene and just watch her do the whole scene, you see this little like tech nerd who idolizes this man who is probably like a little him and just wants to connect and talk with him. And. Mike Ryan security gets up on stage and says, my whole life's work has been driven by an interest.
Andrew: We'll need to find a friend to find a person and I haven't able to do it so that I've made this robot phone. And this girl tries to chime in during the presentation. He shuts her down and then she goes backstage to him and says like, Hey, like I love you is trying to cut them backstage. And he can't.
Andrew: Connect with her. Like he is physically, emotionally unable to even register that the cutest girl on the planet is trying to connect with him and this man who cannot connect with another human being. Is driving the world population for connection and how we connect and is driving that conversation. To me, that's a very real thing.
Andrew: That's happening in the world right now. And it was like, it hit me hard, all of his scenes and how he's trying to solve problems with things that are just driving people apart.
Rob: He even talks about how a lot of the work. Bash or whatever else is, so you never have to feel sad and UN right.
Andrew: Do you feel like this drug drive the sad feelings away forever?
Rob: He's this drug pedaler and that's what big tech is, you know, and again, I do think we're all complicit in some ways of like, yeah, we never want to feel sad that there's a great little line. There's a shot of the puppy kind of riding around the chicken. And then he's like, ah, is that chicken too scarier or cute or bird, you know, like, and I could totally say market testing, this happy clip of like, is it happy enough?
Rob: Is it the right color? And like the thing that these marketing people do, or they're always like upping it to make it more and more happy. And I was just like, this is so spot on. Well, even that
Andrew: line right there, he says like, have we tested the chicken with like the prepubescent. Audience, I find it quite threatening.
Andrew: And that line comes literally after the little girl just said, I love you. And he's like, Hey, does this chicken scary to prepubescent people? There's a girl right next to you ask her. Right. Right, exactly. Right. Like, and he, and he, and he's asking some data analysts, like even that kind of throw away line about the.
Andrew: It's like poignant, even in the joke to me, that's why I'm like, how can you not say this as well? Executed the layers on this are all
Rob: there. He has a couple of other really interesting scenes. One scene that really stuck out. Is when there he's finally given the pitch of how they're going to like mine, the comment for all of its things.
Rob: And so he talks about these machines that he's given. And as he keeps talking about the machines, he named drops like, Hey, this laser was invented by this Nobel prize winning scientists. And this guy with a best-selling book came up with this rocket launcher and everything is like name-dropping, as he's talking about why his plans.
Rob: Why his science is the best science, you know? And so he's, but you can see, he's just, payrolled all these people to like sign off on his. And that's why they're
Andrew: building the brand. He's like building up his brand, he's doing the thing. That's flashy versus the thing that Leo starts to push in act two, which is, is this peer reviewed, which is not flashy.
Andrew: That is boring. Like in the, in the very beginning of the movie, the, um, the doctor says like, Hey, just make sure that you don't talk about. And then Leo's like, how it's all talk about it's all meth. How do I know? Right. And so like Mark Lyons is building up the brand versus doing the thing that actually matters, which is, uh, you know,
Rob: every single person in that room is sold except for the one scientist.
Rob: Who's like, looks in horror. Like this is not going to work. Um, meanwhile, while that scene's going on, just another way of like how this movie is so funny is they cut away from that scene and Jonah hill has. Line where he's like, Leonardo's like, oh, can we do it? And he's like, well, we could make a lot of money and, and save the world.
Rob: Yeah. And everyone cheers. And then you cut to Jennifer Lawrence. Who's sitting on the floor and she's. I just don't understand how this is possible. And you think she's talking about the comment, but what you really she's actually talking about is why the three-star general charged her for snacks, for snacks.
Rob: And, and it's such a funny bit that like goes to the whole movie, but I think what's so great about it is it's kind of what our brains do, which is when the big problem is so big and unsolvable. Sometimes we go through these stupid problems that are right in front of. Like why, why a three general star general charges for snacks when they're free.
Andrew: exactly which is maybe the funniest joke in the whole movie is the snack joke. It's
Rob: beautiful. They even do it when she's laying next to Timothy Salamay and looking up at the stars. And again, you think they're having this meaningful conversation about the end of the. And she's like, I've realized why he charges for the snacks and like, for her, like that's the mystery that like, the comment makes total sense, but this snack thing is the thing she can't let go of.
Rob: It's super funny. Um, my most meaningful character is actually, uh, I picked Dr. Oglethorpe who is just, oh, this, um, yeah, he's just the, his name is Teddy and the movie. And I thought what he did was just grounds it in reality. It's really interesting because the first half of the movie. And you're watching Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence, uh, Dr.
Rob: Mindy, and what's her name? Kate DB. Oskie. You're watching them trying to convince the world this is going to happen, but Dr. Oglethorpe has kind of us, he's the one watching it on TV and watching how that big power couple gets back together. And it's so amazing. And then they have to pitch how the comments coming.
Rob: Um, and so you just see Dr. Oglethorpe he's there in the white house and he's just the one. Watching these to try to convince the world of what to do, and they can never quite do it. He's the one character in the movie who I think gets no laugh lines or anything else like that. But he's the steadying presence of like trying to ground this in science and grounded in reality, and even grounded in humanity.
Rob: And so I just thought he was a real. Nice character. You mentioned how everyone's so crazy and manic, but he's just this normal guy who reminds us of like, no there's real humans who are trying to figure this out and solve this problem.
Andrew: Interesting. How there's only like a couple of characters in the movie that aren't slightly absurd.
Andrew: And he had, I wrote down
Rob: for. You know, Dr. Mindy, Leonardo DiCaprio's character. It was Jennifer Lawrence's character. KTB AUSkey it was, uh, Dr. Oglethorpe. And then it was the wife of Mrs. Mindy. Like those are the four characters were kind of like regular human beings. And then everyone else is a bit of a like kind of comic foil character or whatever else.
Andrew: so, right. And I think, I think the line they walk is almost every single one of those characters while they might be clownish. Right. They're all. Quote, normal people, but they all feel like a real person. Yeah. Right. It's never like a caricature where you go, oh no, one's actually like that. I get what they're doing, but no, one's that crazy?
Andrew: Like every one of them you go like, yeah, no, that feels like the real person. It's a crazy person, but yeah, that's
Rob: a pre the boyfriend who's hurt by his girlfriend. Therefore he goes and becomes on every Buzzfeed article and that sort of thing and uses the name of the famous person. There's that character like every kind of bizarre character.
Rob: Newscasters, like all these characters are like, Nope, I've seen them in real life. Like I know that character. And again, that's why I've made this movie. So documentary alike is it's like, oh, these people are so lived in and more real than a lot of people in a Marvel movie or a lot of people in. Whichever horror movie or drama or whatever else it's like, Nope.
Rob: Every single one of these characters I've met or
Andrew: interacted with. And I feel like that's why it almost it's more terrifying or feels kind of hopeless. Is it doesn't feel like I've said before, it doesn't feel elevated. It feels like these people in power, whether they be in the administration or on the news program or whatever, like, it feels like, Nope, this is, I've seen these people.
Andrew: Like these are people I feel like are in power and that stare.
Rob: Okay. So here's our final category, Andrew, what is this movie trying to say overall? You, you may have said it earlier, but if you could like to steal it all of like, oh, this is the main thing this movie is trying to say. What's your kind of final closing argument of what it's trying to say.
Andrew: mean, what is this moving? Not trying to say that would take less time. Um, the thing that amazes me about this movie is the number of things that it affectively says either outright or something. The things that it's satirizing thing that it's tackling. I mean, it has to be a half dozen to a dozen things.
Andrew: It tackles chauvinism with Leo, taking the credit for PDB Oskies discovery and everyone thinking she's the crazy woman while he's the handsome scientist tackles climate change, tackled money in politics. It tackles big personalities and politics that aren't really properly. Capable of leadership. It tackles social media, both with the big business angle, as well as how it's moving society in the wrong direction to tackles celebrity, the tackles, the binary genus of politics and the binary nature of society.
Andrew: Like the list goes on and on the things that it's it's satirizing. So just that the smorgasbord of things that it's saying is overwhelming and stunning, and the fact that it holds up and doesn't feel like a Ted talk. Crazy to me. Um, but I think it's core. If you could boil it all away and say, what is the heart of this movie?
Andrew: I think it's about. Human connection and how human connection is the only antidote we have to the absurdity in our society and not fake connection, not social media connection, not the actual who is around you, who is in the room with you? Who can you stop and connect with? Yeah. When we
Rob: talked about most meaningful scene, the real answer to that is there's this final scene where they're all sitting down together and they're eating a meal.
Rob: And some of these are friends. Some of them are strangers. Some of them are family members. But they're just having these really human connection. And they're talking about simple things. Like I prefer store bought baked goods versus fresh-made baked goods, right. They're not having these overly like philosophical conversations, but they're just sitting around a table connecting with each other and the juxtaposition of the world blowing around literally around them.
Rob: And they're just kind of looking at each other in the eye and having real conversations. I do think that's the meaning of the movie tone. I do think that's the antidote. Timothy Shallah may gives this prayer, um, at the table and we didn't really talk about his character much, but I appreciated how religion in this movie wasn't even satirized.
Rob: It was really like, no, this is maybe looking at God is one of the only things that will help us make sense of the world right now, because we don't know what else is happening. And he gives this beautiful. And then they just sit around the table and they just talk and it's like, sometimes that's all you can do is be kind to the people right in front of you, because of you just trying to start communicating with the noise, the outside world, like there's this scene earlier on where Leo sitting down in his computer and he's.
Rob: Retorting to his, you know, someone else on a message board and 25,000 followers or waiting for him to say something. And his wife is like, do you want to go for a walk? And he's like, no, I've got more busy, important things to do. And he finally learns that, like, you know, what the most important thing to do is actually.
Rob: Just talk to my wife. Who's right here, my cheer, my kids on her right here and love the people who I'm nearby.
Andrew: Totally. Like it shocked me that the main characters of the movie weren't watching the final mission, whether they believed in it or not, it felt like you've got skin in the game. Like don't you want to know if this works and the story choice to have all of the main characters completely ignore the mission, whether or not it works or not, they want it to work, but they it's almost like the sense of enlightenment.
Andrew: If it doesn't, I'm not going to spend my last moments on earth looking out into the, the world, but not connecting with anybody. I'm going to look at my world and I'm going to connect with people. And Leo's last line is before the world explodes, as he says something to the tune of like, we really had so much.
Andrew: Yeah. And then the world ends. Yeah.
Rob: And I, and I think that's right. I think if there's one moral it's, Hey, turn off everything and just look the people who around. And, you know, it's, it's a simple moral, and I think one that we'd all be like, oh yeah, that's true. But when you go and the movie and the journey that this movie takes you on, I feel like it's a moral, that's thoughtful and fresh and unique and earned and the world of this movie.
Rob: Absolutely. Okay. Well that is our podcast for Domo. Uh, I hope we did.
Andrew: Okay, Andrew. Yeah. Hope. I hope that wasn't, um, you know, an hour worth of, uh, too much depression and sadness.
Rob: Uh, if it was, I hope you were depressed and sad with us, and maybe you feel a little bit of what we felt was relief or at least.
Rob: Misery loves company. And so we're glad that you joined us for our misery in this episode, we'll do something happier next time. Uh, thank you for listening as always, you can like the show, you can subscribe to the show and be looking for the next episode of the meaning of the movie.