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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 29.79%
Average: 12.77%
Pretty Bad: 14.89%
Total Crap: 6.38%

4 reviews, 23 user ratings

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Up in the Air
[] Buy posters from this movie
by William Goss

"Terminator Salvation"
3 stars

Ryan Bingham tells people things that they donít want to hear for a living.

Heís a firer for hire, laying people off on behalf of those bosses too ashamed to. He moonlights as a motivational speaker, telling those people things that they DO want to hear, about how to live their lives as unburdened as he does. And then he takes off, flying from airport to airport, office to office, hub to hub, barely ever home yet always at home. And because heís played by George Clooney, and because director/co-writer Jason Reitman (Juno, Thank You For Smoking) gives him all the best lines, his detached lifestyle seems all the more inviting instead of borderline sociopathic.

Heíll soon find out, though, that the times, they are a-changiní. Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick) has used todayís technology and developed a system for eliminating jobs over a computer interface. Ryanís boss (Jason Bateman) thinks this is a great and efficient new option; Ryan, on the other hand, isnít keen on the idea of being rendered obsolete. He believes in offering a personal touch during othersí troubled times, and if he can rack up an ungodly amount of frequent flyer miles along the way, so be it. So Ryan and Natalie hit the road, with him showing her the ropes and her showing him what value real relationships could have if he only let himself be burdened with any.

Thereís no doubt that Bingham will emerge from his proud isolation; at what cost, Iíll leave it to you to discover. But until then, Bingham does best what Clooney does best Ė he lives as the audience would want to live, and he tells how to go about living the lives we already have. His current fling (Vera Farmiga) is every bit his counterpart, as hot as he is handsome, not looking to get attached but equally turned on by elite status. Arenít we all? Donít we all wish that we could crash the tech conference after-party and have Young MC turn up? Wouldnít we like to get paid to fly around in first class and stay in suites? Wouldnít it be nice?

Yes, it would, but itís not enough, as Reitman begins to introduce further and further hints to Bingham receiving one of those wake-up calls that he so regularly doles out. In preparation for his sisterís wedding, heís sent an oversized cut-out of the couple to take pictures with, a cut-out that literally doesnít fit into his neat little luggage and therefore his neat little life. For every time Zach Galifianakis shows up and blows up, weíre fed footage of the real-life unemployed relating their experience getting laid off. Once Bingham does go home for the wedding, everything goes handheld and montage to give us the fleeting idea that real people are having real lives, and that our hero might have one too.

But then the end comes, and all those perfect lines and fitting songs and idyllic shots of airport terminals and hotel lobbies seem in retrospect like such careful calculation to make sure that we care about how our hero ends up Ė not because heís isolated himself, but because heís played by George Clooney, and we all like George Clooney. I think itís much more a sincere effort by Reitman to replicate a sort of mid-life malaise and uncertainty than a cynical one, and I believe that the performances all resonate because each performer believed that they represented an ideal more than a delusion, but Up in the Airís third act proves how everything in the first two was laid out just so to make us empathize with a man whose misery is really of his own making.

Clooney slicks it all away, though, as if accepting his fate as Mr. Nice Guy, a man on the move who settles down just long enough to whisper sweet everythings in our ear and ferry us between hard times with a joke and a smile before taking off again into the ether, another star above to be wished on, admired and adored.

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originally posted: 12/19/09 11:49:07
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 Toronto International Film Festival For more in the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 Austin Film Festival For more in the 2009 Austin Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

4/10/20 Suzanne George Clooney was a real revelation. 4 stars
2/27/13 David Hollingsworth A very relevant, and timely surprise. Witty & smart. 5 stars
9/23/12 roscoe Horrible film that contains and sxhibits nothing. Clooney is a terrible actor. 1 stars
3/28/11 RLan The chemistry between Cooney and Farmiga makes the movies worth viewing. 4 stars
1/13/11 mr.mike Worth a view on cable. 4 stars
10/12/10 Simon Broader socioeconomic commentary w/personal existential relatability - not an easy feat 5 stars
6/13/10 the dork knight Thought-provoking movie. Switches between snappy ironic humor and grim realism 5 stars
3/30/10 gc Great ending, great commentary on the present state of the american economy 4 stars
3/22/10 Monday Morning Don't say this often at all but I loved this movie. Outstanding story & performances. 5 stars
3/15/10 Jeff Wilder Not as deep as it thinks it is. But still good for what it is. Better than most mainstream. 4 stars
3/08/10 Samantha Pruitt great actine with great dialogue, kind of sad though 5 stars
2/28/10 Butt No new ground, but very well done. An atypical mainstream flick in many ways. 4 stars
2/27/10 Kelp Interesting, a lovely lass or two, ruminations on connection 4 stars
1/24/10 Dan Great movie- well acted and written. Understated. Spoke to the business traveller. 5 stars
1/21/10 anthony Geat script, exellent performances, and successfully delivered despite the hype. 5 stars
1/21/10 Helen Bradley Very slow paced, boring, disappointing 1 stars
1/20/10 Stanley Thai Funny, dark, witty, and poignant, UP IN THE AIR is one of the best films of 2009. 5 stars
1/03/10 Benjamin Brian Ondorf couldn't be more mistaken. Best of the year 5 stars
1/02/10 Suzz see it and think about how you are living your life 5 stars
12/27/09 Vince Mazzara LAME ! Very FLAT ! Did I say LAME ? 1 stars
12/11/09 Ming One of the best year..funny and interesting story 4 stars
12/05/09 Flounder Has more laughs, smarts and heart than any film released this year. Utterly fantastic 5 stars
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  04-Dec-2009 (R)
  DVD: 09-Mar-2010


  DVD: 09-Mar-2010

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