“Don’t Look Up”: a blatant spinoff of “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” (SATIRE)


Pioneer senior Marisa Jordan looks up in amazement, mimicking the expressions of people in “Don’t Look Up”.

After hearing so much excitement and praise for Netflix’s newest original film, “Don’t Look Up,” I was looking forward to watching it. Based on the cast alone it should have been an incredible movie, and hearing reviews of the deep and dire messages that the story brings to our society made me intrigued. However, as I tried to grasp meaning from each scene, I couldn’t help but notice an eerie familiarity between events in the film and something that the world had already experienced. It wasn’t until the climax of the film, over two hours in, that I was able to place my finger on it. Seeing the side profile of Jonah Hill sitting in a nice suit with a confused and lost-looking face made me realize his striking resemblance to the mayor of the fictional town of Swallow Falls. And that was when it hit me. The entire plot of “Don’t Look Up” is a complete rip-off of the iconic Sony Pictures animated film, “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs.” 

Picture this: a nerdy and soft-spoken scientist makes a groundbreaking new discovery that could permanently alter the trajectory of the world. However, as this scientist gains fame from press recognition, he quickly loses touch with the person he once was, and evil politicians are able to manipulate him easily. Any sane person would automatically equate this plotline with the award-winning film, “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs.” But not Netflix. Netflix decided that this would be the perfect plot for their newest political commentary.

 “Don’t Look Up” is said to be a commentary on climate change. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Jenifer Lawrence, two scientists from none other than Michigan State University, discover an earth-shattering comet hurtling towards our planet. The two seek to convince political leaders, as well as the general population, about the dire necessity to stop this comet before it is too late. However, their efforts devolve into political warfare as politicians spew garbage about the comet creating more jobs and thus boosting the economy. This emergent situation becomes widely ignored by the population and the incentives of fame and money lead the smartest minds to downplay the comet as the world continues to head towards utter obliteration. 

This storyline is obviously referencing the journey that Flint Lockwood takes in the hit 2009 kids’ movie “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs.” The science-impassioned main character creates a machine that can turn water into food. This incredible discovery launches his career as a scientist. However, as things start to go wrong and the food begins to take over, the corrupt mayor of his hometown of Swallow Falls convinces him to ignore the problems and to keep rolling ahead, despite the growing issues. Wrapped up in the fame, Flint, too, dismisses his scientific flaws and ends up destroying their town. At least “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs” was able to set up the perfect ending for its amazing sequel, “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2.” This is something “Don’t Look Up” could not even accomplish. 

The comparisons don’t stop there. The president in “Don’t Look Up,” portrayed by Meryl Streep, resembles a political figure that I’m all too familiar with. Of course, Mayor Shelbourne came to mind. He’s the mayor of Swallow Falls and greatly benefits from Flint’s discovery. With unlimited free food raining from the sky at a moment’s notice, his town quickly gains traction as a popular tourist location, and Mayor Shelbourne is all for the money this brings him. President Janie Orlean, the lead political figure in “Don’t Look Up,” has a similar monetary motivation. When a billionaire businessman approaches her saying that the comet is filled with diamonds and other precious stones, she is quick to dismiss the possible severity of the comet and begins claiming to the population that the comet doesn’t exist. The idea of a politician being corrupt or in the business for fame and money may seem foreign and unique to many people, but in reality, Sony Pictures already created this archetype in the character of Shelbourne. 

Even though “Don’t Look Up” is supposed to be satire, it was still difficult to watch and not feel like the plot was something that I had experienced or lived through before. This is all because of its direct copying from “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs.” “Don’t Look Up” did have its funny moments, I mean c’mon the guy charged them for the snacks, but I think that it’s time Hollywood came up with new ideas. Given the choice, I would rather watch “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs” over “Don’t Look Up,” but nonetheless, Netflix’s new adaptation of that iconic film will remain an important landmark in modern-day media for a long time to come.