Why not seek has aggressively divided critics and the public
Adam McKay’s latest comedy, Don’t Look Up, proved to be polarizing for critics and audiences alike due to its timeliness and satirical style.
Warning: this article contains spoilers for Do not seek.
The film Do not seek aggressively divided audiences and critics – but why? The satire was written and directed by Adam McKay, who has already helmed an impressive list of unconventional comedy films, including The big court, Vice, Half brothers, and Presenter. Any further, Do not seek features performances from an impressive number of celebrities: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Jonah Hill, Cate Blanchett, Mark Rylance, Ariana Grande and Kid Cudi, among others. So why is the 2021 film quickly shaping up to be the most controversial feature of 2021?
Do not seek follows graduate student Kate Dibiasky (Lawrence) and her teacher, Dr. Randall Mindy (DiCaprio) as they discover a mountain-sized comet is heading towards Earth, with doomsday consequences. They struggle to be heard by the President (Streep) and his clumsy son (Hill), and only really find support from the representative of the Planetary Defense Coordination Office (an actual government agency). As the government and media refuse to take the immediate existential threat seriously, Dibiasky and Mindy desperately seek their voices. Ultimately, the President values the advice and benefits of narcissistic and super-rich tech CEO Peter Isherwood (Rylance) above all else, leading to the total destruction of the planet.
Do not seek turned out to be an absolute divide between critics and audiences, in large part because of the brutal satire. McKay designed the script as an expansive metaphor for the still obtuse response to the climate crisis, although it’s also hard to ignore the premonitory parallels to the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. The mixed critical response for Do not seek (a 55% on Rotten Tomatoes at the time of writing) appears to have been negatively affected by the feeling that the satirical premise is right too much on the nose, causing eye rolls with his cartoonish critiques of society’s lowest fruit. The film’s nearly two-and-a-half-hour runtime is also often mentioned in negative reviews, noting that around half of critics found satire. to be inflated by its own importance.
However, the other side of the debate surrounding Do not seek argues that a lighter touch would have made a film less effective. When you consider the incompetence and greed that has been a common thread in government and media responses to climate change (not to mention the still raging pandemic), some critics argue that McKay is hitting the public through- above his head with the metaphor of the comet because it is necessary at this point in history. Critics agree that Do not seekThe cultural and political commentary on is ambitious and timely, but they seem to be split in two on whether or not the film is addressing its targets with the right amount of subtlety.
Since the film’s Netflix release on Christmas Eve, the debate over Do not seekThe effectiveness of has spread to social media. While there appears to be quite a bit of disagreement among viewers online, the film’s 77% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes seems to indicate that the general public has a more broadly positive opinion than critics. Indeed, Do not seek has been the most streamed movie on Netflix since its release, with viewers logging 111 million hours watching just in its first weekend. Mixed reviews and disagreements on Do not seek seem to be pushing even more people to watch and engage in it, which seems like a victory for Adam McKay and his company, regardless of the critical consensus.
Although Do not seek Still seems to be in the conversation to be recognized at the Oscars, it’s clear the film has divided critics and audiences alike. The fact that the film tackles the climate crisis head-on is certainly a major factor in the polarized response, given that so many have strong personal beliefs about this often politicized issue. Looking at the extreme dispersion of responses to Do not seekIt is clear that Adam McKay has succeeded in creating a comedy film that prompts audiences to think critically about his message.
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