REVIEW: ‘Death to 2021,’ – When All You Can Do Is Laugh…. Again.

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Death to 2021 - But Why Tho

Death to 2021 is a mockumentary exclusive from Netflix starring Hugh Grant, Lucy Liu, and Tracy Ullman. Just as with its previous look back at 2020, Netflix delivers another satirical look at the year that was 2021. Featuring a mix of returning and new characters, this feature delivers a quick one-hour rundown of many of the most talked-about moments of 2021.

Creating satirical looks at our society is getting trickier by the day. With things spiraling into the more bizarre by the moment, any attempt to joke about the world we live in runs the risk of landing so close to home there is a 50% chance that it’ll break you rather than make you laugh.  While this struggle is true of all looks at our current culture, Death to 2021 finds itself in a struggle all its own as many of its jokes feel eerily similar to those of its predecessor.

While there were many changes in the world between this year and the year that preceded it, so much feels so depressingly familiar that much of this movie’s material feels like a hash of last year’s movie. COVID-19 still plagues us, conspiracy-driven conservatives continue to deny the facts presented by scientists, and rampant racism is brushed aside and excused by those complaining of how “woke” culture has become. This sense of repetition makes already hard topics to think about even harder to laugh at. As someone who found a therapeutic release in Death to 2020‘s comical look at its subject matter, I couldn’t find that same sense here. Rather, I found the occasional humorous moment far outweighed by the reinforcement of just how little has changed, despite how much we hoped the change would come.

Along with the familiar faces from its predecessor, Death to 2021 does bring several new faces to this year’s retrospective that do their best to make light of the often upsetting material they have to work with. Most prominently is the conservative talking head played by Tracy Ullman. With the catchphrase “I’m just asking questions”, Ullman apes how some personalities lead viewers to some truly bizarre conclusions while being able to say they never said something is. The apex of this character comes when their vocal anti-vax agenda is tested by whether or not they have received the vaccine.

While the material may not have elicited as many laughs from me as I had hoped, I couldn’t blame the quality of the work. The presentation of Death to 2021 from the sets to the choices of archive footage is handled extremely well. There isn’t even a performance I can point at that isn’t giving everything it got to allow the viewer a chance to laugh at the utter obscurity that the year was.

As I find myself trying to decide on a score for Death to 2021 I find myself struggling. While I can find little fault in how the movie approaches, formats, and delivers its attempt to make light of the year that was, I find myself failing to laugh at it. Whether this is due to the movie’s material being too rehashed or my ability to laugh at the utter ridiculousness of our world I cannot say. But, if you do feel the need to look back at 2021, this is probably the least painful way to do it.

Death to 2021 is streaming now on Netflix.


Death to 2021
  • 7/10
    Rating - 7/10
7/10

TL;DR

As I find myself trying to decide on a score for Death to 2021 I find myself struggling. While I can find little fault in how the movie approaches, formats, and delivers its attempt to make light of the year that was, I find myself failing to laugh at it. Whether this is due to the movie’s material being too rehashed or my ability to laugh at the utter ridiculousness of our world I cannot say. But, if you do feel the need to look back at 2021, this is probably the least painful way to do it.