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George Clooney 'Up In The Air' Movie Review

Updated on April 18, 2012

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The Plot

I recently watched The movie "Up in the Air" (2009) on Netflix DVD. It stars George Clooney as a jet set corporate man flying thousands and thousands of miles a year as a "termination facilitator."

He fires people for a living.

His entire life is truly 'up in the air' as he spends his entire career in and out of airports and airplanes. Along the way he crosses paths with two women played by Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick. His experience with them helps him to define the life he has lived so far and shape the direction he may take in the future.

The Cast

George Clooney is terrific as Ryan Bingham, the professional terminator. I think Clooney has shown to be at his best when playing work a holic, career driven, professionals. Think "Michael Clayton" or "Syriana"

Vera Farmiga. I can't get enough of this woman in films. You may remember her from "The Departed." Her role is much more pronounced in "Up in the Air" as Alex Goran, Bingham's love interest in the film.

Anna Kendrick plays Natalie Keener, the new employee at the firm with ideas of her own. From my perspective, as a middle aged male, I enjoyed her part as the idealist, driven, young professional. Kendrick aptly plays that tug of war between dedication to career and a ideal innocence that comes with being young and full of energy.

I think if were in my twenty's again, I might feel differently though. If I were 20 again, I might feel her part is a bit too stiff while doing her job and perhaps too naive when she lets her hair down. I'm sticking with my 'middle aged' view though. Liked her a lot.


The Movie

I really enjoyed the pace of this 108 minute film. Clooney's character does a lot of travelling. A lot of travelling. Travel is a big part of the film and that is no secret from the beginning. I really expected the film to have too many dizzying scenes bouncing from one place to another. I expected more of those annoying maps on the screen with dotted lines defining the travel routes of the scores of cities he visits. To my relief there really wasn't much of that at all. The movie took its time and the pace was perfect. It really let you absorb the characters and where the film was going.

While the movie is not a comedy, it isn't too somber either. Yes, the film does deal with firing people and there is a lot of firing. With that in mind, the film didn't make me feel particularly depressed even though I've been in and out of work myself. Director and co writer Jason Reitman takes the completely illogical notion of hiring a company to fire your employees and somehow makes it all seem so logical in an amusing way.

Speaking of satire, the film is a lot like one of Reitman's previous films "Thank You For Smoking." The exception being that in "Up in the Air" there isn't that clear definition of right and wrong. It is easy to have sympathy for someone being fired, but in"Up in the Air" you occasionally have sympathy for the firer himself. In "Thank You for Smoking" there was always that feeling that no matter how convicing the store got, cigarettes are bad for you and always will be. "Up in the Air" sidesteps this and really lets the audience absorb itself into the movie and formulate their own thoughts.

In some ways I thought the film felt a lot like an Alexander Payne film. Payne's films "Sideways" and "About Schmidt" examine characters who think that there is something that makes them stand out in life, something that makes them special. Then the rug gets pulled out from under them and the character realizes they are part of the rat pack just like the rest of us. "Up in the Air" asks the question, are we able to go it alone? Does Bingham's (Clooney's) travels prove he can, literally and figuratively, rise the pack and be truly happy with no attachments what so ever? What happens when the rug is pulled out from under him? What does he have to show for it?

These questions are a lot of fun to answer as you watch this film. Check it out sometime.

What Do You Think of Academy Award Films That Lost?

I have a few thoughts especially concerning the 2012 Oscars. I had a lot of fun writing this article and hope that you enjoy it to. I wrote a post that shows some great movie trailers, summarizes each film and gives you access to some cool reviews (that I shamelessly wrote myself).

Check out my post on Oscar Nominated 2012 films that lost and let me know what you think. Feel free to comment. It would be great to have you visit and take a look at my reviews. This is just a partial list of three films but there's plenty of info so you won't be disappointed.


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