This environmentally friendly email from director-writer Adam McKay [below] is part of an overt virtue signaling tendency that sinks “Don’t Look Up”.

Imagine “War Games” if only Matthew Broderick’s character were the only smart one and everyone else was labeled as a shallow, one-dimensional idiot. “Don’t Look Up” would have worked if the deck weren’t stacked, if Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence weren’t so earnest and portrayed as unable to get their message out in a very real world as opposed to an SNL sketch where vacuous talk show hosts are oblivious, libidinous and banter with showbiz patter.

The portrayal of the president by the world’s greatest actress [Meryl Streep] sank the movie. Peter Sellers’ president in “Dr. Strangelove” is STILL a president — analytical, seeking answers, striving for calm in the midst of chaos, and that’s part of what makes the escalating madness distressing and funny. Imagine Sellers’ president taking the McKay approach and talking about approval ratings and contending with an idiot son. “Don’t Look Up” negates verisimilitude in every scene, offering a polemic and not a satire.

Sketch characters, as a rule, have a single trait, not dimensions. If DiCaprio and Lawrence were forced to seek out a vacuous media personality to front them, yet another music star or media influencer, in order to get on a talk show, or engineer some stunts to get their message out to a fatuous populace, then you’re dealing with Sellers’ impassioned RAF officer who’s begging for spare change and sanctioning the shooting of a Coca Cola machine.

Without verisimilitude, the exaggerated personas from “Don’t Look Up” turn wearying and cutting from idiots to the sanctified liberals feels forced and preachy, which it is. Leonardo’s portrayal and rants are pitch perfect, but he’s playing the intention of the piece… not what’s on the page.

Faye Dunaway‘s “Network” executive is a very real person, as are all the characters in that 1976 film, but McKay only shows legitimacy towards the characters he personally sides with and that’s his biggest mistake… along with not having good jokes.

This is a bigger budgeted “An American Carol” and saddens me as I love McKay and satire.