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Monday, January 11, 2010

Up in the Air (2009) Drama

Up in the Air (2009) - George Clooney banks on a handsome confidence to get him through this role as a despicable axe man, know it all, who has to question, even for the briefest moments his own life path. He is the expert and there is one thing that Clooney plays well it is the expert. Working for a company that fires people for other companies Ryan Bingham is the sky warrior. He crisscrosses the country plying his trade and has created the perfect isolated life for himself. A couple things happen to interrupt this life. The first is Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick) arrives at his company with the idea of creating a video conferencing version of his job. The idea will save 85% on the travel budget and effectively axe the axe men from there travelling ways. The second is Clooney becomes involved with another frequent flier Alex Goran (Vera Farmiga) who is looking for a guy like Ryan, and the unattached relationship he can give.
Ryan's boss in response to resistance to the new video conferencing idea send Natalie and Ryan on the road together so he can teach her the ropes about firing strangers. Here is where the philosophy lesson begins about how even the most vile human beings need to be able to have personal contact and interaction with those they are harming. For Ryan he sees his job as a gift to those who he is firing. A benefit to have a stranger say the right things and make the right connections. He is the syrup pored over the turd of being fired. Through there travels Natalie learns how hard this is but fights through to perform in ruins people's lives like the pro she is.

Ryan and Alex have a fun sexual relationship where they meet when there flights are near each other, have a shag and then happily head their separate ways. This is upset when Ryan starts to fall for her. She attends his sisters wedding with him and he tries to take the relationship further. His ideas are crushed though and she is not looking for more then they have already agreed to in their relationship. This was a really poor piece of fore shadowing when Natalie, Alex and Ryan are talking about how they see a good life, for me at least gave away what was to come.

The mini plot above this is Ryan become the youngest man ever to receive a 10 million miles of loyalty points on American Airlines (The biggest product placement ever!). There are also some very good dialog writing in this story. Using humor and candor worked to try to get the audience to like these character who in the real world may not really connect with the rest of us. It was also not a poorly made movie, in fact shots were just long enough and the music was appropriate throughout.

At the end of this movie I was not moved. I think when you are making a movie about bad people the plot has to be more than the small story arc we got here. I was left thinking boy really did not care whether these bad people learned anything. The writers (Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner) tried to give us the other side also with many clips of people talking about how it is to be laid off, but really they spend more time trying to get us to sympathize with the scumbags hired to lay them off. eh! This just did not work for me and I came away sorry I wasted $11 on the ticket. I see that the movie is rated 8.2 on imdb.com, and most of the prays shows people liked and sympathized with the Clooney character. I didn't, his ethics were flawed from the start and just because he has them does not make him likable. His big change in this movie is having his heart broken, which would have been decent if it was left at that, but no instead the writers shunt the blow by letting him reach his 10 million goal and pretty much get his travelling job back. This was a manipulative movie that did a poor job at manipulating, at least for me.
Rating (4.0)

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