Up in the Air (2009)

The stars will wheel forth from their daytime hiding places; and one of those lights, slightly brighter than the rest, will be my wingtip passing over.

— Ryan Bingham

Jason Reitman’s latest film is getting considerable awards attention as of late. I was surprised that it was playing at my local theater. Going into the movie, I didn’t want to have too much expectation of it, because I might be disappointed with it. Ultimately, the movie is a wake-up call that people cannot live a solitary life.

Based on the book by Walter Kirn, Up in the Air tells the story of Ryan Bingham (George Clooney), an “executive efficiency expert”, which is a fancy term for a mediator that a company hires to fire their employees without doing the firing themselves. He is ultimately content in his life living from Hilton hotel to Hilton hotel, renting cars from Hertz and living out of one nicely packed carry-on. He travels 322 days out of the year and he wants to rack up many flier miles that he can so he could reach his ultimate goal of ten million miles that six people accomplished before.

His life takes a detour at a hotel bar when he meets the vivacious Alex (Vera Farmiga) who literally charms the pants off of him. She is on the same boat as Ryan. They both enjoy the allure of racking up frequent flyer miles and keeping up with multiple membership cards. They both have an understanding their relationship is strictly casual to where they intersect on their different travel schedules.

His boss, Craig Gregory (Jason Bateman), calls Ryan back to home base at the Career Transition Corporation, where he lets the other experts knows that their face-to-face methodology is obsolete. A young Cornell grad student named Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick) shows the experts that a better way to be more efficient is to fire people via e-conference.

This does not sit well with Ryan, whose whole livelihood is built around not being grounded in one place for too long. Craig thought that it would be best for Ryan is bring Natalie along on his firing runs so she could better prepare the technology before Ryan becomes irrelevant.

For a man that doesn’t want to have anybody is his life, these two women, Alex and Natalie start to become a chink in his armor. He slowly begins to realize that his life is all that is it cracked up to be. He needs to face reality and have a human reconnection with somebody.

The movie is like a plane taking off. Sorry for the metaphor, but go with me on this. When it gets off the ground, it’s a little bumpy. It steadily gets better as it progresses toward the end. I did have a problem with the motivations of Alex. I can’t explain it here. Watch for it in the spoiler section.

The performances were solid across the board. Clooney was basically playing himself expect he was more cold and distant about how he doesn’t care about the countless lives that he change. Farmiga showed subtle exuberance in her approach of the love interest that tickles Ryan’s fancy. Kendrick was a small fish going into a ocean full of piranhas, but she is a scrappy girl that is not afraid to tell it like it is.

Judgment: This movie is a relevant take on if bad things happen, good things come around the corner.

Rating: ****1/2

(SPOILER SECTION)

At the end of the movie, Ryan “romantic comedy runs” to Alex’s place in Chicago to surprise her. When she opens the door, it revealed that she is married with children. She breaks Ryan’s heart.

Okay. I guess, I had a problem when Alex and Ryan were sexting to each other in their Hilton hotel rooms in different city about touching themselves. Was that her work phone or her personal one? Wouldn’t her husband be suspicious that she calls another guy a couple of times?

I can understand if she wanted something casual. Wouldn’t she be careful about being found out when she attended Ryan’s younger sister’s wedding or crash that corporate meeting and took pictures with Ryan doing sexually suggestive poses? It could be a nitpick. I needed to say that.

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About Branden

Branden: I am just your average movie nut that reviews films. Gives his take on pop culture and Hollywood happenings. Dreams to have his own thriving website and make a living doing what he is passionate about.

Posted on December 21, 2009, in 2009, Academy Award Nominee, Comedy, Drama, Romantic and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. mcarteratthemovies

    I officially CANNOT WAIT for Christmas Day — not because it’s Christmas Day but because that’s when “Up in the Air” opens to theaters nationwide! I own — and love — both “Thank You for Smoking” and “Juno,” and Jason Reitman seems to keep getting better and better. Great review, and I can’t wait to see if this one matches my miles-high expectations!

    • I think you will enjoy it, M. I heard that it’s coming out on the 23rd in the latest commercials. I can’t wait to read your review of the film.

  2. A well-acted piece about a man’s inability to cope with a world more real than the one he lives. And the screenplay just keeps on getting better and better. Nice review, check out mine when you can!

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