Up in the Air Directed by: Jason Reitman Cast: George Clooney, Anna Kendrick, Vera Farmiga, Jason Bateman, Danny McBride Running Time: 2 hrs 10 mins Rating: R Release Date: December 18, 2009
PLOT: Ryan (Clooney) is a man with the unenviable task of flying across the country to fire people ... only he loves it. A new young worker bee (Kendrick) comes along and introduces technology that may make him irrelevant. Now Ryan must reexamine this life to see what his future holds.
WHO'S IT FOR? Adult comedy drama. This film speaks to the millions of college educated people out there who are being downsized, but also to those who think alone is better.
EXPECTATIONS: I'll admit it. With Reitman already having directed Thank You For Smoking and Juno ... I was thinking this could be the greatest start a director has ever known.
George Clooney as Ryan Bingham: He's smart, cool, collected and if we had to pick ... doesn't getting fired by Clooney kind of, sort of sound OK? Ryan is a poetic firer, but his true art form is traveling. He makes flying the friendly skies, sound exactly like that. Clooney is so comfortable to watch in this role, and the added evolution that starts to have Ryan open up to his family is the hook we needed to truly enjoy this film. Score: 9
Anna Kendrick as Natalie Keener: This just might be a case of not being able to escape your past. Kendrick plays Jessica in the Twilight Saga franchise. She's an immature high schooler in that role. Here, she doesn't feel so different. As the young up-and-comer in the company, she's given a lot of responsibility, but has zero experience. It's just a little (only a little) far fetched, especially when you see her in action. She moved to Omaha for a boy. She hysterically cries in public. She uses luggage from the 60s (which seems really out of place). Almost everything about this role is for comic value. While she does get laughs, it comes at a slight expense of realism. Score: 7
Vera Farmiga as Alex Goran: Nice. Some called Farmiga the weak link in Departed. Not I. I'm on the Farmiga bandwagon, especially when she's wearing nothing but a tie. The relationship between Alex and Ryan is fun, flirtatious and hitting on all cylinders when they are comparing reward points with Hilton and Hertz. Score: 9
Rest of Cast: Reitman seems to be gaining a regular set of actors for his movies. Jason Bateman and J.K. Simmons are along for the ride. There's also a quick performance by everybody's favorite bearded buddy, Zach Galifinakis in the beginning. Danny McBride proves he's funny looking enough to where he can play it almost straight and still get laughs. Nice cameo by Sam Elliott as well. Most important, those are real people getting fired. They had recently been let go, and thought they were being interviewed for a documentary. Great idea by Reitman. Score: 10
TALKING: You might have seen the line, "Are you angry at your computer?" "I type with purpose!" It's all amusing dialogue. The best line being, "Think of me as you with a vagina." Ryan's speech about "What's in your back pack," is also a good device to come back to, in order to show how he is changing throughout the film. Score: 9
SIGHTS: Nothing seems difficult to achieve the look of this film, but it's all nicely done. I would like to sit in business and/or first class please. I am now more desperate to get into those lounges. There are also some beautiful shots from the sky showcasing the farm land across our nation. Yeah, I was born in Iowa. Score: 8
SOUNDS: Look at you Mr. Young MC. Pushing three bills now? Anyway, it was good to see you still busting a move. "This Land is Your Land" as an R&B groove was a nice touch as well. Score: 7
BEST SCENE: Getting the tour of Ryan's high school stomping grounds, with Alex along for the ride, gave everyone the chance to believe in a happy ending.
ENDING: It really couldn't end any other way, while being able to retain a slightly cheerful mood. Once the twist happens, we couldn't just have Ryan pushing paperwork in Omaha, now could we? Finding work for Natalie didn't seem to be much of a challenge even though the letter of recommendation came off as pretty basic.
QUESTIONS: How quickly did Natalie's computer training program get implemented? Wasn't Ryan gone for a wedding weekend, and then suddenly there was a full staff hired and she was monitoring everyone? That was way too quick.
REWATCHABILITY: Watching Ryan and Alex act toward each other, and the rules of their relationship, would easily be worth an intriguing look. Plus, it's simply a fun, quality movie. I'd easily see it again.
Leaning your chair back and getting comfortable with a film like Up in the Air just feels right. It's a confident, funny, adult film in the hands on one of the best young directors out there right now. With our economy in the tank, and people losing so many careers, it's a difficult balance to join Clooney on a cross country journey to fire people, but that's just a testament to how good Clooney can be. We're happy to be his co-pilot in his pursuit to elite status. Ryan's working relationship with Natalie gets laughs, but doesn't compare to Ryan and Alex meeting up for moments together on the road (of life). As a couple of them say in the film, and I'm paraphrasing, "it was a nice touch."
FINAL SCORE: 9/10