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Movies

Netflix’s Moxie Could Have Been A Great Movie: But It Disappoints

“I mean, when I was sixteen, all I cared about was smashing the patriarchy, and burning it all down”

Amy Poehler, Moxie

*Most of this review is spoiler-free. After that, I included a few extra critiques and parts I liked that include spoilers*

On New Year’s Day, all I wanted to do was watch Netflix movies and relax. I chose this movie for the same reason I chose to watch Don’t Look Up. I watched the trailer Moxie that Amy Poehler was in it and that it was a fun feminist movie and decided to give it a try.

Moxie is a movie about a girl named Vivian who decides to start a feminist club at her high school.

Netflix's 'Moxie': Why Amy Poehler directed a YA film about activism

Moxie is more than just a high schoolers’ club invented by Hollywood; the group Moxie takes inspiration from the Riott Grrrl movement of the 1990s and early 2000s. The movement started in Olympia, Washington, and the Pacific Northwest to address sexism in the punk industry. I had never heard of the Riott Grrrl movement before and I thought it was cool the movie talked about a historical feminist movement. Supporters hosted undercover concerts, printed out zines (self-published text and images that resembled a magazine), and hung up copies to spread the word.

Though the movement has fallen in popularity since the early 2000s, it inspired writer Jennifer Mathieu’s enough to make a movie out of it. Rebel Grrrl also took place during Amy Poulmer’s teen years. The movie uses the aesthetics and music from the Rebel Grrrl movement. That’s pretty cool. The group Bikini Kill was prominent in the movement, and their song “Rebel Girl” is a battle cry in Moxie.

So, how does one start a feminist group in high school? Well, it takes a few experiences with sexism to encourage the girls to start and that’s where our should-be protagonist comes in. First, Lucy, the new girl (Alycia Pascal-Peña), gets bullied by school quarterback Mitchell (Patrick Schwartzenegger). Lucy and Alycia is Afro-Latina (African American and Latin American). Mitchell is a terrible person from his first moments; he spits in Lucy’s drink and tries to intimidate her. When she tells Vivian, she says Lucy should just tolerate Mitchell’s behavior and let him be a jerk, but Lucy won’t let his behavior slide.

Note that Mitchell never talks to or approaches Vivian, so she gives advice for a problem she doesn’t have. Throughout the movie, Vivian doesn’t experience sexism like her peers do. Meanwhile, Mitchell targets Lucy on her first day. From a new student’s perspective, Lucy notes that the guys’ behavior and the school’s complacency are deeply concerning.

The second big problematic thing Lucy notices is the list. Her first day of school is the day that the guys post a list that ranks girls based on their physical attractiveness. The list is crude and the guys talk about it openly, but the girls usually go along with it because that is just the way things are at this school.

Lucy refuses to accept everyone else’s excuses for the boys’ behavior. She stands up for herself and others, and she doesn’t just shrug it off. Vivian is the one to start Moxie, but without Lucy’s influence–I can’t see the group succeeding the way it does. It isn’t until Lucy calls Vivian out and the guys put out this year’s list that Vivian snaps.

Lucy Actor From Moxie On Her Afro Latina Character
Lucy standing up for herself

Vivian goes through her mom’s old high school zines and discovers that Amy Poehler was once part of a feminist group at her school and handed out cool flyers. Vivian then decides to start a club at school by creating and printing out own her zines at the local print shop. She puts the flyers in the girls’ bathroom to spread awareness about a club she calls Moxie.

When we look back in history, it is notable that Riot Grrrl movements also had some problems. For starters, Riott Grrrl was a group of primarily white middle-class, cisgender women. Some Rebel Grrrl groups participated at Michigan’s Womyn’s Music Festival, which explicitly banned trans women from attending. Vivian’s mother admits that the group was not very intersectional; it seems like white women made up a majority. The new Moxie group is more diverse.

The writers do acknowledge that the Riot Grrrl group was not as inclusive as it could have been via Vivian’s mom and she says it has its flaws. Moxie attempts to fix the problems with the Rebel Grrrl movement by including People of Color. Several of the girls are black, and Vivian’s best friend Claudia is Chinese American. Josie Totah, a transgender actor, plays a minor character CJ, a trans girl.

Vivian has a love interest, a fellow feminist boy named Seth (Nico Hagaria), who supports her and Moxie. Seth is a kind skateboarder who Vivian has a crush on. It was nice seeing a guy feminist, and the movie doesn’t exclude men or hate on all men. Seth is a pretty great guy. Both are awkward around each other at the beginning like typical teen protagonists are, and their development is sweet to watch. They are a gem in this movie.

Moxie" Star Nico Hiraga Thought a White Dude Would Play Seth | Teen Vogue
Seth and Vivian

The movie is also fun, filled with a punk soundtrack, including the iconic hit “Bikini Kill.” Moxie occasionally made me laugh. It is upbeat and tackles serious issues at the same time. I also enjoyed the banter between Amy Poehler and Vivian; they made me chuckle and felt like a real mother and daughter. They poke fun of each other and also made me ask deep questions like is milk “bad” for you? As a milk fan, I’m on Amy’s side, it is not bad.

The side characters were so great; Lucy, who everyone thinks started the group, is confident and brave. Claudia’s story was compelling too. She and Vivian have been best friends forever, but the group causes a rift between the two. It isn’t realistic that every girl would be into Moxie or have the family support to join. The movie doesn’t divide the characters into completely black and white categories. They are sensitive to Claudia’s situation and their friendship. I wish there was more of Claudia though.

Honestly, the side characters were so much better than the main character.

I have to agree with critics on this one. Moxie could have done more. Vivian watches her friends face sexism, but she never has to deal with it personally. Quiet people can certainly start revolutions, but she seemed reluctant at first. A story where Lucy starts Moxie and leads would have been so much more compelling.

Overall, it was a decent movie. I enjoyed watching it. It is a fun movie, but it is also a piece of feminist media that intends to teach and inspire teens. It doesn’t tell a story we haven’t heard before. If the writers want to do homage to the Rebel Grrrl movement and also become more inclusive everyone’s stories, this film could have done more. Why not make Lucy the main character?

The movie was an opportunity to correct feminist media’s promotion of white, upper-middle-class narratives over women of color and LGBTQ+ people. Moxie could have been an opportunity for us to listen to the voice of an LGBTQ+ Afro-Latina character. Lucy could have been a great main character, and it is a shame she was reduced to the background when she clearly outshone the lead.

A Way to Improve Moxie

I would make Lucy the main character and Vivian her friend. Seth could still be Vivian’s love interest and a Moxie supporter. Maybe he could get guys to join as well. I would also give Lucy a love interest, maybe Amaya, and develop their love story.

Amy Poehmer would replace the English teacher guy. Maybe she could be the club’s advisor and a teacher that the girls went to for guidance. She could still have run her own group in high school. Maybe she tells the girls about the group she created as a teen.

I was also thinking if she was the English teacher, maybe she has the class read The Great Gatsby every year and the girls encourage her to put more diverse books on the forefront of her curriculum. Books have great power and reading perspectives other than one’s own is helpful in starting conversations about race and gender.

With Lucy as a main character, the movie could have thrived. Everyone thought she started the group, after all. We could have learned about her experiences, her old school, her home life. Has she always been so confident? Did she always stand up for herself and her friends or did she quiet before and have a moment when she realized something had to be done? Does she have a cool feminist parent? I’d watch another movie about her or any one of the girls.

Too many movies aimed at teens portray adults as stuck in their ways and unable to understand them, listen to their experiences, and learn from them. So, if Amy was a teacher, rather than the guy who somewhat supported them could have been better. Also, Having the teacher realize the problems of the group and listening to the girls suggestions would have been cool to see.

If you haven’t seen the movie and want no spoilers, that’s the end of my review. From now on, this review includes spoilers.

Literary References

The Great Gatsby - Is The Great Gatsby on Netflix - FlixList

As a fan of The Great Gatsby, I couldn’t resist talking about the reference in the movie. It seems like everyone reads The Great Gatsby in high school, and the characters of Moxie are no exception. I’m going to give my opinion because why not. Lucy complains that TGG is not that great because it tells the story of a rich, white guy. Are we supposed to feel bad for him? Mitchell defends TGG and says that since it was studied and beloved for more than a hundred years…it must have something worth saying. Mitchell is the scum of the earth, but I agree with both points. As someone who has read The Great Gatsby in high school and college, I agree that The Great Gatsby is worth reading and studying. The book is about how the American Dream is a lie even for those it appears to benefit. There are also so many other stories that need to be studied and heard.

We need stories by people who are not just rich and white, and Lucy is right here. Schools should promote these stories and give them our attention and time just as much as Gatsby. Perhaps that is the problem with Moxie. The key message isn’t a bad one. It is good–so is reading it in a classroom and watching a movie about intersectional feminism. However, more good stories by people of color, lgbtq+ people, and people of different social backgrounds aren’t being shared and appreciated to the level of TGG. The school puts Gatsby on a pedestal, and it is a problem, and Lucy rightfully calls the professor out.

Mediocre LGBTQ+ Represention

 The big romance in the movie is between Vivian and Seth. None of the other girls get a love story–at least it isn’t shown. Lucy and Amaya kiss at the pep rally, but after that–nothing. We never see them interact or start to like each other. We don’t see them acknowledge the kiss or become a couple afterward. The movie seemed to want to include an LGBTQ+ couple, but they do so half-heartedly. Viewers could easily miss the kiss since it is so short. 

Seth and Vivian and even Amy Poehler and her boyfriend get screentime. They could have easily included scenes showing Lucy and Amaya starting to like each other and getting to know each other better.

CJ is also a pretty minor character. She says a few things about the transphobia that she faces from her peers, but she doesn’t get many more lines.

Lackluster Disability Representation

There was a girl in a wheelchair, and she isn’t ever a part of Moxie, but she is interested in joining. That was disappointing, especially since the group is supposed to include anyone who wants to join.

Unfortunate Realistic Tropes

The way they showed the teachers felt realistic. Along with Mitchell, the principal is the most sexist character. She has no sympathy for the girls or the movement. Unfortunately, this is true of real life. Their male English teacher also tries to “keep his hands clean” and subtly supports the girls, but he seldom takes action to help when Mitchell bullies Lucy.

The football team gets more recognition than everyone else. The teachers, administration, and popular kids worship the quarterback. The school assumes that he is the only one who wants a sports scholarship and they do not care about their other students. Football players are terrible people here, and not one of them is good. That’s kind of an annoying cliché.

Vivian’s Anger

Vivian gets into an argument with her mom not because she stole her mom’s ice cream, but over her mon’s new boyfriend. Her mom brings a guy home for dinner, one that flirted with her at the grocery store, and Vivian thinks she’s settling. Despite calling herself a feminist, her mom makes a salad for dinner and dresses up when she usually eats pizza and chills in pajamas or sweats. Vivian is also annoyed the guy asked her boyfriend about physics and not her. Vivian has a point, but she also assumes the worst and runs with it.

Is there anything wrong with making a salad to impress a new person you’re dating? No. Lots of people do. You could also argue that she’s right. Her mom is acting differently to impress a guy. Vivian is unapologetically herself, and Seth loves her for it. One should be kind to and respect others, but serving pizza dinner is not evil if her mom likes pizza. So, I get that. Why pretend to be someone you’re not? If he became her boyfriend, he would learn these things soon enough. 

But on the other hand, I mostly side with her mother. It is nice that she considers what her date likes to eat. Vivian really knows nothing of their situation. Her mom’s date could have had dietary restrictions and been unable to eat pizza. Vivian assumes why her mom acts that way, and goes off. Of course, Vivian is a teen and figuring herself out, and will just have to learn.

Anger isn’t always the answer to suspected internalized misogyny. Don’t take your anger out on others who mean well and are not doing harmful things. 

Claudia

Moxie Ending, Explained | Netflix Plot Synopsis | Khatrimaza

Claudia’s storyline was nice to see. Not everyone has a feminist mom or feels like feminism is accessible to them. Claudia’s Chinese American immigrant mother tells her that she needs to keep her head down so that she can succeed in life. Claudia isn’t just a bratty teen who feels like her friend is neglecting her. She grew up in an environment different than Vivian; she deserved better treatment than her friend gave her. Claudia risks her mother finding out about Moxie and then takes the blame and gets suspended when the group is under fire. She rightfully calls Vivian out for her privilege. Vivian has it easy. Her mom supports her and so do all her friends. She doesn’t experience or understand her friends who don’t have it as easy as her.

So yeah, much of this review has me noting the flaws of making Vivian the main character. I genuinely liked her, but the side characters are just more compelling.

I could have called out the evil characters, but I don’t see much of a point. Mitchell is literal trash. He isn’t just annoying, and the show shows that he’s awful. I haven’t met a Mitchell, and I wouldn’t want to. He did feel realistic, unfortunately. On the bright side, most characters are good. None of the girls hate each other for no reason. They all work together for a common goal.

But Lucy should have been the main character. We never got to know anything about her backstory, old school, or home life. Amy Poehler, I loved you in Parks and Rec and have not seen the film you also directed (Wine Country), but Moxie had promise and cool characters that I wish had been given more screen time.

Have you seen Moxie? If you have, what do you think? If not, do you plan to watch it? Let me know down in the comments below.

Movies

Political Satire of the Year? Don’t Look Up Spoiler-Free Review

I feel like I’ve been watching a reality show for the past 6 years. Life is dramatic and outlandish. The news feels like something from a sci-fi movie or from a teen dystopia. Reality TV is unrealistic; it asks why any rational person would act or believe the things they do. I question the notion that people really want to know the truth when I see how certain reality tv actors are; they believe their story is correct, no matter how many times the rest of the cast proves that they are wrong. What people really want is a truth that benefits their self-interest. The answer to that question is that people are inherently irrational. Our irrationality has been with us long before the pandemic and long before the movies.  

I’ve heard quite often that 2021 wasn’t the best year, though I wonder, when did we have a good year? Our world has always had irrational people and people have been satirizing life forever. The drama of the satire is pointing out the vices and flaws of society and the best satire, in my opinion, points out flaws that we can find not just in the higher-ups, but in ourselves. The best satire can call out the people who need to be called out, as well as ourselves and our complicity.  

The movie Don’t Look Up begins when Ph.D. student Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence) discovers a meteor in a telescope that will crash to Earth in six months. All human life will end when the meteor hits. This is guaranteed. She and her professor, Dr. Randall Mindy (Leonardo DiCaprio), head to Washington DC to tell the President about this incoming doom. The midterm elections are coming soon, and let’s just say–this will not be good. 

Are you hooked yet? For this review, I am going to talk about both reasons to watch Don’t Look Up and some reasons the movie might not be for you. 

Reasons to Watch  

  1. Relevant Political Satire 

Don’t Look Up takes place in America and addresses the current political climate using dark humor. Don’t Look Up portrays the press, tv news, and big tech companies as utterly selfish and shallow. Light and fluffy sells, and drama make a fascinating story as long as it does not personally hurt us or challenge the comfortable ideologies and lifestyles we have settled into. We want shallowness and to feel placated, and this film shies away from nothing. The movie criticizes our selfishness, and it doesn’t just blame one group of people. The US government, owners of corporations, and media are responsible for the most damage, and they are called out rightfully. However, as the film depicts, all of America is afflicted by ignorance and self-interest, not just the higher-ups. 

The film’s president (played by Meryl Streep) is a self-centered politician who cares more about maintaining her position of power over public needs. Trump is never referenced outright, but she shares obvious similarities with him. The movie also jokes about how immoral politicians try to incorporate God, human values, and love in speeches all the while having affairs and lying out of self-interest. The film mixes exaggeration with realism well. For instance, the president wears a hat that says “Don’t Look Up” and stands behind a giant American flag. They also go to great lengths to downplay the numbers of the meteor. The president requests the scientists if she can tell the public the percentage that the meteor will hit the earth is 70% rather than nearly 100%. Lower numbers will not alarm the public before the midterm election. These jokes are based on Trump’s MAGA hat and his use of the phrase ‘” alternative facts.” It is one of those comedies where I didn’t laugh out loud a ton, but I appreciated the humor. 

The movie idea existed before the pandemic, but it bears many similarities. The movie is meant to be a metaphor for climate change, and it feels relevant to both issues. In general, science is treated the same way about both issues.

2. Realistic Portrayal of Scientists and Human Nature 

I read a few reviews online, and scientists have applauded this movie for its portrayal of their experiences. They share Randall and Kate’s frustration with the public, politicians, and media when they ignore, belittle, and undermine the research they have carefully compiled to present to them. Scientists try to tell people about climate change and vaccines, but their words are politicized, minimized, and altered in favor of answers that don’t disrupt or challenge their way of living. When a challenging but clear answer is in front of people, they take any opportunity to avoid it.  

The movie also shows how people are intuitively self-seeking. Everyone is more focused on their image over the impending end of all life. We also see tech leaders claiming the values of science, to improve life for humans and all forms of life while ignoring real scientists. 

The film also addresses human failures and accepts that some events are beyond our control. It also shows how power corrupts and we try to control the wrong things. The movie is also unapologetically tragic. Death is not romanticized and it is interesting watching what the characters choose to do on their final days.  

3. Good Acting  

Many of the characters represent ideologies, but they are people first. Kate and Randall are not perfect people, but I can empathize with them easily. They have been through the unthinkable. Meryl Streep plays an awful, self-serving president of the United States. Jonah Hill plays Jason Orlean, the president’s son: an annoying, shockingly accurate, and hilarious example of privilege and nepotism in politics.  

Some of the celebrities feel like they are randomly thrown in the film for no reason, but they were all good. Ariana Grande plays a celebrity much like herself and she adds some much-needed comic relief. She makes fun of herself and the media coverage of her, which I found fantastic. Apparently, she ad-libbed some lines too. Timothee Chalamet ended up in a pretty unexpected role, and he surprisingly adds heart to a terrifying story. 

4. Surprising Inclusion of a Christian Character and a Positive Portrayal of Faith 

I wasn’t sure how this movie would address religion, if at all, and I was surprised to find an Evangelical Christian character. Sure, they are not completely traditional, but the engagement was nice. Religion is respected by the main characters, even if they don’t agree. The movie primarily focuses on science and the importance of listening to and understanding the truth scientists discover about life, but Christianity does not always have to conflict with science. It was a small part, but I found it cool to see in a movie like this.  

A Few Things to Note 

These aren’t exactly cons, but if you’re considering watching this movie, it might be useful to be aware of these issues beforehand.  

  1. R Rating.  

The film is rated R, so that comes with some things. Don’t Look Up could easily have earned a PG-13 rating if they took out the swearing and the bit of nudity. I do think an R rating makes sense for the catastrophe and satire. The movie explores political themes and social issues in a way that wouldn’t succeed as a family film. I wouldn’t recommend the movie to anyone other than older teens and adults for the following reasons. 

Language: The film is rated R and it swears quite a bit. According to IMDB, the word “fuck” is used 42 times. Other swear words are also occasionally used. Much of the swearing takes place when the characters feel intense anger or frustration with their situation. While understandable in the context, the cursing did not do much for the film. Maybe we needed to be yelled at, but it is painful to watch. The message could have been addressed without as much language and it feels redundant at times during a big speech. If you don’t like a lot of swearing, the movie might not be enjoyable.  

Nudity: the nudity isn’t graphic and it is very brief. The film includes back nudity and partial frontal nudity. Overall, I wouldn’t say that nudity is necessary to tell the story; it is kind of just thrown in there.  

2. One-dimensional portrayal of people who disagree 

The public was all oblivious and ignorant to the events of the world around them. Despite the threat of all human life, no one cared except the scientist characters. People only listened when the politicians and celebrities told them to care either in support of or against evidence that the meteor was going to kill them. People who support Trump-like politicians and their policies were utterly one-dimensional. That is to be expected in satire, of course. I do think if the film is trying to convince people of a message, it excludes some people. If this is something that bothers you, I wouldn’t recommend this movie. Most of the focus is on the higher-ups, and the public is merged into one. The movie requires us to know how to laugh at ourselves, and if you don’t mind satire, it shouldn’t be a problem.  

3. American-Centric 

I suppose this was the point, but for an event like this, there’s no way other countries would not get involved. There are brief snippets of scenes from other countries, but they don’t really land well. The snippets felt like something the film had to include instead of an attempt at diversity. I was disappointed that the movie did not address the world as a whole, especially since everyone is going to die. Seeing how foreign relations interact with each other and understanding the meteor could have been fascinating. The film is very concerned with the USA, but the message and criticism of political power and media can apply everywhere. The focus on the US isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The movie wanted to focus on satirizing America in particular, and specific satire is better than general. I just wish the rest of the world’s response was included a little more. The United States of America, thankfully, is not responsible for the entire world and it would have felt more real if they said that.  

Overall thoughts  

I enjoyed this movie. I wouldn’t call it a powerful piece that will stay with us forever, nor is it the best film I’ve seen this year. It was engaging, but not laugh-out-loud hilarious. The message was a good one, and  It tried to mix satire and some inspiration, and it kind of works. I’m glad I watched it. I enjoyed watching actors I like and checking out a genre I don’t typically watch, and it is pretty good. Even with the few things I mentioned, I would recommend this movie and it is not 2+ hours I regret spending on Netflix. 

I wouldn’t make it out to be more than it is. It can be enjoyed regardless of political viewpoint. The movie points out the importance of science and calls people out through comedy and slight exaggeration. If you appreciate dark comedy, you should enjoy this film. It is a satire, but it also was pretty heartwarming. The movie made me want to be more aware of the world around me and take steps to help, but it wasn’t something that will change the world. It also isn’t too cynical. Though the movie was sad, I didn’t feel worse about the world than I already do. We are entering a new year. There is time to do good and spread awareness and learn about climate change, injustice, poverty, and find ways to help others. Maybe I’m being idealistic, but the movie seems to inspire hope rather than anything. We can listen, we can learn, and we can do better. We can ask more of our leaders and ourselves. 

Don’t Look Up is so similar to the political sphere, but it felt oddly comforting rather than distressing. The film never minimizes the horrors of what is happening to the audience. The humor balances well. 

If you like any of the actors, I think you will like this film. The cast plays roles that fit them perfectly. Don’t Look Up is bleak but its satire of celebrities, politicians, and social media help distract us from the tragedy. I would recommend it if you’re in the mood for a dramatic film that addresses the age, we live in. I also found the movie a little long, it is a little less than two and a half hours, and it seemed longer than it needed to be. It is still worth watching. They drag at parts, but so does life. Back during COVID, I remember waiting all afternoon for an email from our college president detailing whether or not we would go home. Sometimes, even in movies, it’s good to show the slowness, the anxiety of waiting and not knowing. Also, the ending is good, so watch the whole thing. 

Have you seen or heard of Don’t Look Up? What do you think? Let me know down in the comments below! 

Check out my Spoiler Review!

Also, after you’ve watched the movie, check out my spoiler review! I’m going to be discussing criticisms that I didn’t mention here, including surprising things I enjoyed and analyzing the character development and the overall message.  

Movies

Don’t Look Up Spoiler Review: 5 Reflections On This Wonderful Movie

Don’t Look Up. Three words create a giant controversy. If you watch even a few seconds of attention to the news, this is pretty obvious. I will start by saying this movie is satire, it is dangerously true to life. It is also hilarious and true and beautiful. I don’t typically watch movies about political satire, but after these past 2 years, I felt interested. I heard this movie addresses our modern age and includes some famous people and was like, I gotta watch that. You know, sometimes, it’s not that deep. I see Meryl Streep and Timothee Chalamet and I click.

Don’t Look Up begins when Kate Dibasky (Jennifer Lawrence), a Ph.D. student at the University of Michigan, discovers a comment that will hit the earth and destroy the world. She then must, along with her professor Randall Mindy (Leonardo Decaprio) inform the president of the United States.

The film has got a ton of celebrities: Meryl Street plays the self-interested president. Timothee Chalumet plays a young Evangelical hippie guy and Ariana Grande plays a famous singer nearly identical to herself.

I enjoyed this movie more than I thought. The film was written to address climate change and politics, but the themes of denial and politicization of a threat to human lives fit the pandemic pretty well too. That is partially why the movie is so big. Other than knowing that Don’t Look Down is a satire of American politics and features celebrities, I really didn’t know what to expect.

In this review, I’ll be talking about 5 main ideas I thought of watching this movie. I was pleasantly surprised by what the movie decided to cover. Some characters—Leonardo DiCaprio—are downright unlikeable at times, but somehow, I made it through, partially due to Jennifer Lawrence and Timothee Chalamet.

l. Leonardo DiCaprio is unlikable

Leonardo DiCaprio Helped Rewrite Funniest Don't Look Up Scene 15 Times

It is very hard to like Randall Mindy ( Leonardo Decaprio). Randall is introduced as a camera-shy scientist who views life as a series of facts. We quickly learn, however, that the minute the awkward scientist gets recognition, he falls in with the crowd. He starts off insisting on science and I imagine he’s going to be the voice of reason.

But I, perhaps idealistically, turned out to be wrong about Mindy. Peter Isherwille, the (evil) tech guru understands him. Randall’s fatal flaw is that he is shy and insecure and wants people to like him. Unlike most of the population, he accepts the fact that his life will end in six months. To avoid that horrifying truth, he allows fame to distract him.

“I know what you are, you are a lifestyle idealist. You’re just thrown towards pleasure and away from pain like a field mouse.”

Peter Isherwillie

It also seems like Mindy has an anxiety disorder. He mentions that he takes Xanax and Zoloft. The audience isn’t told any specifics, but he gets visibly anxious before going on TV. Overall, medications (and alcohol) are tools that the characters use to numb the pain of the events happening to them. Randall shares his medications with Kate, which is clearly problematic, after they find out about the meteor.

Both characters pursue or at least accept momentary pleasure when it is offered to them, but DeCaprio is the one who annoyed me.

Kate takes medication and gets high with Yule, but she doesn’t harm anyone else.

Randall is a married man, and his wife cares for several teenage sons mostly by herself. One of his sons takes medication, but he is pretty oblivious about how to be a good father. He has responsibilities as a father, husband, and scientist, and he neglects them all.

The haircut is the start of his ruin. Before he goes on the news to talk about the meteor, the studio cuts Randall’s hair and shapes his beard. The news crew won’t listen what he is going to say, even if he is literally telling them the world will end soon, but they do want him to look hot. The media grooms him like a golden retriever and he falls into their trap so easily. Talk show reporter Brie Evantee (Kate Blanchett) flirts with Randall on set, and after a few interviews, he begins an affair with her as his wife struggles to raise their sons alone. In addition to getting with a reporter, Randall personally recieves almost no backlash for his behavior and he is just the pretty face. Randall is dubbed the hottest scientist by the media, and he rides safely in the limousine of privilege as the truth as society crumbles around him.

While the impending damage of the meteor is downplayed in interviews, and Randall is featured on Elmo, Kate is mocked and reduced to a meltdown meme. Randal is her teacher and he is supposed to be supporting her, but he leaves her in the dust. I wonder if the film was making a point about sexism in the media. Kate is horrified by the public’s attempts to downplay the imminent death of the world and she is honest and upset. Everyone should be upset. But the media portrays her as overly emotional and a joke. No one takes her seriously.

People don’t take Randall seriously, but he never suffers the amount of vitriol that Kate receives. Even when he finally breaks down and screams and swears at the public, no one judges him. In a traumatic situation like this, there is no one way to react or process, but Kate is the only one who is insulted for her grief.

In turn, Randall doesn’t protect Kate and slowly allows the media to take the narrative from him. Randall becomes a shallow, morally bankrupt version of his former self. He was once a man who loved science and facts. He saw life as a series of truths and put facts and honesty above all.

He then settles into an extremely shallow relationship with reporter Brie Evantee. From what we know about her, Bre was born into a wealthy family and has been taught to be very shallow. Brie never broaches a conversation topic below the surface. Her banter with her co-star Jack Bremmer (Tyler Perry) is marketed as light and fun. They jump from death to celebrity drama with little care.

I almost felt bad for Bre at first but then she turned out to be a terrible person. She is the one to pursue him even though she knows he’s married. She is clearly capable of being blunt too. She is honest with Randall and his wife about the affair. She is capable of honesty on TV, but she only is honest when it can get her what she wants. Their relationship also mirrors Randall’s relationship with the press. He exchanges integrity for sex appeal and a shallow relationship with the media, where he occasionally spits out facts to an uninterested population.

Randall sucks for the affair. I was disappointed there wasn’t more of a downfall to his character. His wife loves him and takes care of their sons. She gets mad at him rightfully, but then she just forgives him–with the excuse that she cheated on him in college. I get that it is the end of the world, but this guy gets so much slack, and it annoys me when shows ignore the results of cheating. They just sort of blow it off with a joke. Instead, I wish she had genuinely forgiven him if she ever wanted to and that the cheating wasn’t trivialized.

I also hated how he let Kate get made fun of while he was a hero. He never apologizes to Kate. He also gets the best lines at the end and is still the good guy, but Kate has been nothing but kind, honest, and considerate. Kate deals with the worst of the press. She is the true star of this film, but this guy gets the closing lines. I get it, he had everything and lost it all. He also gets a great ending. At least Kate gets Timothee Calumet.

As much as I complain, I appreciate his character arch from honest scientist to a shallow famous face.

It is an eternal truth that power and influence corrupt. For that reason, I liked that Mindy was morally grey. The movie could have made the scientists always act with good intentions and exist as paragons of virtue. I’m glad they didn’t. It would feel too preachy.

Everyone is guilty of ignoring pain and seeking pleasure. No one is completely innocent and pure, even if they believe and say the right things. Our values don’t stop us from screwing up. We are all capable of committing the evils we claim to abhor.

2. Don’t Look Up Makes fun of current politics with wonderful accuracy

Don't Look Up Images Reveal Meryl Streep's President & Star Studded Cast

The president and her son felt like they were genuinely related. She feels like Donald Trump and he feels like one of Trump’s children. The hairstyle and clothing designers knew how to dress the actors for the parts. The nepotism feels so realistic, unfortunately and Jason Orlean is a spoiled brat and Jonah Hill plays that so well and I loved to hate him and president Orlean. The jokes are direct parallels to the real Trump presidency. There is a scene where Jason says his mother is a smoke show or something similar and that he would date her if she was not his mom. That reminds me of what Trump has said about Ivanka.

The scenes showing her supporters and her choice of the cabinet mirrored Trump. Her hat and flag match him to a T. The movie also shows how our media excuses the racist and sexist behavior of others. The old man the president chooses to fly into space makes racist remarks but the media excuses the things he said because he is from “a different time.” This is classic lampshading. No one is held to any moral standard, and the politicians just don’t care because they have power.

The politician’s ignorance of meteor don’t harm themselves, but their supporters. If the president of the United States is telling you that something is true, you should expect honesty. Especially it involves your health or the fact that something could kill you.

Near the beginning, Kate is charged $20 for snacks and water from a member of the staff, only to find out later that food in the White House is free. She wonders why he would scam her like that. Sometimes people do jerky things for kicks and it is so annoying. Political office and power allow humans to do unreasonable things, and I liked the ongoing conversation. In situations where people do bad things, sometimes we remember the simple stuff the most.

3. Engagement with Political Activism/Issues and shallowness of Media

Ariana Grande improvised 'Don't Look Up''s apocalyptic pop anthem

The movie shows how the reporters, politicians, and everyone else preferred a shallow existence to one that recognizes the facts of life. We would rather pretend problems don’t exist and that we live in a perfect world. We’d rather pretend the news doesn’t apply to us and won’t affect us personally. The media we consume caters to our human desire for comfort, safety, and ignorance.

The scene with Ariana Grande still bugs me. She wanted to talk about her charity, saving the manatees, but the press only cares about her breakup. This is one time where a non-scientist wants to do something good for the environment, and no one lets her. She cares about the climate and help others become more aware of the problems around her, but what about Pete Davidson? The apathy of these people was heartbreaking.

Instead, people escape into her relationship drama. Her drama doesn’t affect their lives, but people like the escape into someone else’s false feelings rather than acknowledge their own. They want drama, as long as it doesn’t affect them, and a happy ending is always enjoyable, even if it is fake. It isn’t until she performs a song to look up that fans and the media listen. But by then, there is nothing else they can do.

4. The Film Mocks Big Tech and Its Flirtation with Science

Is Don't Look Up's BASH a Real Mobile Company? Is Peter ...

Peter Isherwell plays a good villain, he acts with an awkward certainty that just feels like a powerful tech billionaire. He is supposed to parody Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, and all those rich tech people. The dude is so obsessed with wealth. He saw a literal meteor that will kill all people and the first thing the man thinks of was to let it hit the earth and then mine it for gold.

He also uses science and causes like ending world hunger and restoration of biodiversity to justify taking a risk in pursuit of profit. His tech ads are promoted to help people, but they also are supposed to cater to our every desire and need. Science is really an excuse to cater to our individual needs and make money off those needs rather than improve the world around us. We become self-centered and dependent on our devices. We go to them when we are sad and want to be happy. Then they follow an algorithm and give us what we think we need. The tech company BASH argues that phones can predict all.

Technology is also described using religious language. Drones are mankind’s savior. “You’re gonna be a god in the sky,” he says. Technology is a new means of understanding the world. It is religion, it is science, it is philosophy. When he talks about his phone company, Peter says:

“This is evolution, the evolution of the human species.”

Is it? Is it really? Technology is idealized so much. It is supposed to solve all our problems and make our lives perfect apparently. This film laughs at that idea. The media spreads sparky, empty news. Phones distract people and make them happy when they should panic. Technology only serves to dissuade people, rather than encourage them to care about humanity. It is only when people let go of tech and focus on each other that they’re able to be real and have honest conversations. Tech paints a false promise of utopia, but that is wrong. Isherwell calls the age of tech the Golden Age, which was a time of prosperity in Greece, but the characters are their best when they are together, sitting down at a meal with no screens in sight.

“Isherwell calls the age of tech the Golden Age, which was a time of prosperity in Greece, but the characters are their best when they are together, sitting down at a meal with no screens in sight.”

I liked how he was wrong about Randall’s death. Technology can’t control and predict the world; data does not capture an entire person. He didn’t surrender to impulse and momentary pleasure and returned to his wife and sons. He brings his friends along. He chose to invest in the people around him. He didn’t die alone.

I do wonder what will happen next. The tech lord won and I’m not sure his new society will be a better one. Will the naked people be addicted to their phones for happiness? Will they stage a revolt? Hopefully, we never have to find out. Maybe they’ll all die, after all, the scientist guy is the type to start a war. I’m kind of hoping for a sequel.

5. Engagement with Evangelical Christianity

Don't Look Up," sheeple! Adam McKay's comedy, about a comet that will  destroy Earth, fails to hit | Salon.com

I’ve seen quite a few movies where characters are asked if they believe in God, but this movie portrays Christianity a lot more than many. Timothee Chalemet plays Yule, a young man who was raised by Evangelical parents. He grew up in the countryside and wears a camo baseball hat. He is one of my favorite characters.

Don’t Look Up portrays religion pretty satirically at first. The politicians invoke God and Jesus but only as a means to accomplish their political aims. Their level of pandering is so obvious and hilarious, and this sadly occurs in real life–to people of all groups. Politicians use language to make people think they care about interests greater than themselves. News flash–they don’t. The people who support the president parody Trump supporters. They are one-dimensional charicatures. In a satire, and the film aims to call out politicians. The film accomplishes its message, while stereotypes aren’t ideal, it fits the film’s purpose well. It feels more honest than offensive, and pandering by politicians should be called out way, way more than it currently is.

So, back to Timothee, his parents are Evangelical Christians and he disagrees with what they stand for and says he doesn’t like them. If we look at stereotypes, his parents are likely conservative Evangelical Christians. They likely voted for this president who claimed to support them and their values. He could easily have rejected the faith he grew up in as a nonsense but he doesn’t. He says he figured out how to believe in God in his own way, but it is somewhat unclear at first what he means. Yule is a young guy who is learning about life outside of the one he grew up in for the first time.

I liked how Yule skeptical of the meteor. He doesn’t believe in it initially because he hasn’t heard anything else from his environment, but he’s open to listening to Kate when she tells him the truth. He can listen to others with respect without their words threatening him.

We see Yule pray on the roof with Kate, and his faith feels learned, but genuine. He isn’t repeating a family prayer in a sense of desperation. His faith is real and his own. Is he a perfect person, of course not, but that’s what makes him a good character. For a movie about science that partly mocks Evangelical people, his character could have been a quirky stoner stereotype, but instead, the writes decided to create a Christian character with respect. I would argue he and Kate as well is a moral center to the film. While the people around him worry and are filled with fear, he is a calm presence.

At the end of the most, we see Yule praying for everyone by their request. June and Dr. Randall Mindy are not particularly religious, they have no idea how to pray and only know that saying amen is part of the process. Still, they ask Yule to pray for them because it feels important.

“Dearest Father and Almighty Creator… …we ask for your grace tonight, despite our pride. Your forgiveness, despite our doubt. Most of all, Lord… We ask for Your love to soothe us through these dark times. May we face whatever is to come… …in your divine will with courage and open hearts of acceptance. Amen.”

At this point, everyone has given up any sense of control, they know they will die within minutes. June asked Yule to pray because she was scared. They all are; they fear death and what is to come and are looking for peace and acceptance.

Pride is a big force in this movie. Randall enjoys media attention and does not try to help stop the events around him out of pride. He likes feeling good about himself over fear. Tech billionaire Peter Isherwell denies the need to peer-review his plan to combat the meteor because of pride. He thinks he can fix it himself. The same goes for the president.

At this moment, the characters have a choice. They can fight and they can get angry. They can cry or isolate themselves or go into denial. Instead, they accept their fate. They understand their lack of power and they come together to give their attention to something greater than themselves. Relief doesn’t rely on them alone, and they accept that. Though all the characters are not openly religious, the moment is beautiful and unites all of them. They are accepting what they can’t change and Timothee prays for their fate in God’s hands. They are also holding each other’s hands, they are connected, unified in this terrifying situation, but they are not afraid.

The themes of acceptance and forgiveness are at the heart of this movie. So many characters try to change the world to fit their own perception of reality and hold grudges and false perceptions about others. The reporters try to distort the facts and put on false cheer. The president and tech leader aim for their own success instead of pursuing and accepting the truth. As much as we disagree with Randall’s cheating, he comes back to his wife and asks for forgiveness and she accepts him into her home. She chooses to forgive instead of getting angry and he is honest about his mistake. He doesn’t excuse his behavior or alter the facts.

So much of this movie is full of people altering facts. The ending itself is just beautiful. Timothee’s prayer, acceptance, humility, and connection between the group are powerful. Even though they barely know each other, they face this terrifying event together. That scene redeems the hopeless tragedy that humans have created.

If you’ve seen this movie, what do you think? What do you think of the things I pointed out? Let me know down in the comments below.