Up In The Air
Rated R for language and some sexual content.
Running Time: 1 hour 49 minutes
Juno director Jason Reitman directs this award nominated movie Up In The Air. It’s an adaptation of a Walter Kirn book which stars George Clooney as an unapologetic corporate down-sizer whose untethered life is consumed by collecting air miles.
Clooney’s character, Ryan Bingham, works for CTC, Career Transition Counseling. He introduces himself as the guy who works for another company that lends him out to bosses who are afraid to “sack their own people”. Bingham is an experienced traveler who knows how to pack his suitcase and empty his backpack at the same time.
But, is life really as cheerful as he makes it look?
If Life Is A Bowl of Cherries…
Erma Bombeck once wrote, If Life is a Bowl of Cherries…Why Am I Always In The Pits. While Up In The Air has it’s moments of laughter, Bombeck’s observation on life could well apply to the life of Ryan Bingham in this movie. On the surface Bingham appears to be a very caring and concerned man who’s job just happens to be one of downsizing people from companies. He smiles, he has all the right answers and he zips through airport line ups like clockwork.
He seems to have it all figured out – Whatever “all” might be – Not only is he a frequent flier, but he’s also a motivational speaker focusing on the theme of Unpacking Your Backpack. His presentation encourages people to consider how to un-complicate their lives by unpacking their backpack of things we think are necessary for life, but really are not. At the end of the presentation he boldly declares…
“Imagine waking up tomorrow with nothing. It’s kind of exhilarating, isn’t it?”
While Up In The Air is acclaimed by some in Hollywood as an award winner. I must admit, while I enjoyed the movie, it certainly did not jump off the screen. That’s why I describe it as “brilliantly mediocre”. The subject material is very timely and that’s the main reason the Hollywood agenda type people are trying to force feed it down the moviegoers throat. The montage of real-life people sharing their feelings and reactions to what went on with them when they were downsized is very gripping. However, in the long run, the movie tends to drag at times with little to no direction. For the most part, the script is focused on it’s message. But, in the end, the message is a rather depressing one.
I applaud the director for not filling the movie up with needless music. There are many good script qualities in the movie. While George Clooney is a rather flat actor when it comes to screen presence, these types of movies work for him. His calm, subdued, sometimes monotone approach to speaking works. As for Jason Bateman’s take on the role of CTC boss Craig Gregory, this could be one of the best screen appearances Bateman has made in a long time. When it comes to other supporting actresses lining up with Clooney’s character, both Anna Kendrick and Vera Farmiga shine.
However, if you’re looking for an uplifting movie, you will not find that in Up In The Air. While there are a few attempts to lighten the subject material, by the end of the movie Clooney’s character still seems to be lost and wandering aimlessly lonely through the clouds. It’s really too bad the scriptwriters decided to leave the audience hanging instead of leaving them with a little bit of hope. It’s true, the subject material is tough. However, those involved in the movie seem more focused on making corporate America out to be the bad guy. But then again, that’s also typical of the usual politically agenda driven Clooney movies.
All in all Up In The Air is not a total loss.
I did laugh at times, and I did feel the sorrow and pain at other times of those being downsized. However, a little less focus on big bad corporate America, and a little more focus on lives transformed and triumph after the downsize, would have made for a more positive movie experience. Obviously with an R rating Up In The Air is not family-friendly. While the language is edgy at times, I do applaud them for not over-doing it. But, when it comes to paying money to see the movie on the big screen…it’s probably best viewed at home.
Wait for the DVD,