Review: Up in the Air

A journey both by plane and through character, this third effort from Jason Reitman tells a relatable story about a guy who makes flight connections, not personal ones.

In a landscape littered with Avatars, Nelson Mandela and Sherlock Holmes, George Clooney gives us small story about…a guy.  A guy you like.  A guy you’d hang out with.  A guy that is at a crossroads in his life that you become very interested in seeing played out.

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THE SETUP:
Ryan Bingham lives out of a suitcase.  Almost literally.  His comfort zone is in the suitcase he pulls, the ever-changing hotel rooms he sleeps in and the multiple planes he travels on.  He is a man surrounded and alone…and likes it that way.  Life seems pretty simple until the employment termination company he works for decides to embrace technology by firing people through webcams.  Bingham is now training a young upstart, being tempted by a sexy fellow traveler and looking at the possible end of his world as he knows it.  Time to take a good hard look at himself.

THE THOUGHTS:
I was looking forward to this movie for a while.  The director has already done great work and Clooney is usually pretty consistent so I figured it was a done deal.  I was right.  This is a well written snap shot of a man who thought he had everything figured out, until he didn’t.

George Clooney is pretty much playing an aspect of himself (isn’t he always), a guy who doesn’t want to settle down and finds romantic attachments to be baggage.  I don’t know the guy personally but that’s what the media says…and they don’t lie.  You can see the conflict as he’s faced with the realization that maybe he doesn’t have everything figured out.  Being an island and living on an island are two different things (I just made that up now, you can use it).  The two female leads: Anna “we should forgive her for Twilight” Kendrick and Vera “woman in Departed” Farmiga, the young new employee and love interest respectively, are fantastic and play off of Clooney/Bingham perfectly.  He thinks he has them both pegged and it’s learning how wrong he is that really connects – with the audience and with the characters.

I loved the movie’s use of reality within the story.  Clooney’s job is to fly across the country firing people.  Of those fired, they are actual people who were fired during the current economic crisis.  Thinking they were speaking for a documentary film, they really vented.  It was very real moment to see the frustration and fear in their eyes.  Isn’t that why we go to the movies?  To feel something?

Up in the Air Rating:
4 stars – you’d recommend this.
If you’ve been reading my reviews for a while now, I’m a bit of a Clooney fan.  Sure he doesn’t play a much different character every time but that’s not always a bad thing (worked for Michael J. Fox).  This is a movie with great characters.  A lead you can feel for.  Funny.  And with a message that is important but not ham-fisted (first time I’ve every used that in a sentence).  I’m also really happy to like two movies, two weeks in a row for a change.

Coming Attractions:
Inception (release date: July 16, 2010) – First it was Momento, then a couple of little movies called Batman Begins and the Dark Knight.  Christopher Nolan has a pretty good track record so regardless if we get a third Batman movie or not, I’m in line to see anything this guy puts out.  It doesn’t hurt that this is one of the coolest trailers I’ve seen in a while.

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Randomly Recommended
Thank You for Smoking (2005) – Jason Reitman’s first movie (the one that wasn’t Juno) on the fun loving profession of selling smoking to the masses.  Aaron Eckhart makes a hell of a run as the star seller.  His monologue on why vanilla ice cream is better than chocolate ice cream is spectacular.  A great example of marketing and manipulation.

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One Week (2008) – OK, usually my recommendations have a direct link to the weekly movie review but I’m taking a little creative license for this one.  Sue me, I’m Canadian, Jason Reitman is Canadian, and there are so few good Canadian movies (yes, Porky’s was awesome) so I’m going to take any opportunity I have to suggest one.  Check this out.  Joshua “I can’t find Dawson’s Creek on Google Map anymore” Jackson learns he has one week to live.  Funny.  Beautiful scenery of my native land.  Wonderfully acted.  Pick it up.

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 Review: Up in the Air
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Comments

  1. Totally agree with your assessment. I really liked how the character didn’t change much: he learned something, but in the end he is who he is, which is pretty much real life.

  2. Good points, I think I will definitely subscribe!🙂. I’ll go and read some more!

  3. Completely agree. But I would like to think the Clooney character will now take steps to change a bit. It certainly gave us hope that that was the case.
    I like when a movie doesn’t have to hit you over the head with its message.
    (I also loved the argument on what a 23 year old woman vs. a 34 year old woman looks for in a guy)

  4. I watched this movie yesterday (mommy movie day @ SilverCity) and found it to be both comforting & extremely depressing at the same time. I agree with your rating & thoughts, and on Clooney. Twilight rocks though. Given, the books are way better than the movies, but still, I heart Twilight. 😉

    What should Allan & I rent tonight?

  5. If you want intense but fantastic – Hurt Locker…if not, what would you be in the mood for?

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