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Movie Review: Up In the Air

Alternate Title: Fly By Night

Story: George Clooney as Ryan Bingham, is sleek, slick, detached and noncommittal. Depending on your own lifestyle he could ether be a character that garners your sympathy or sows seeds of avid jealousy. His character works for a company that is hired by corporations to fire people. He swoops in, does the dastardly task and moves on to the next city. He travels most of the time, sits in in front of the plane and has loyalty cards to big, fancy hotels that allows him access to the front of the check-in lines and all of the other perks that frequent travelers accrue. The film was crisply directed by Jason Reitman (Thank You For Smoking, Juno) and written by Mr. Reitman and Sheldon Turner. It is based on the novel by Walter Kirn.

Bingham's life is turned upside down when a young woman, hired by his firm, comes up with a cost saving way to do their job. It entails the use of teleconferencing technology to fire people. They hit the road together so he can show her how it is really done. This road trip allows the romance, satire and comic relief that a film with an underlying premise of sadness needs.

The film focus' of course on the main characters. However, a day later, I am fixated on all of the people that were shown being fired by Bingham. Reitman hired some non-professionals to tell their stories. It was current, emotional and sad.

Will Ryan Bingham ever settle down? Does his impermanence define him? The film grows on you as it develops and is well worth your time.


Acting: George Clooney as Ryan Bingham, hits the mark. He is eye candy for all. Vera Farmiga as love interest Alex has a nice chemistry with Clooney. Anna Kendrick as young Natalie Keener is terrific. The supporting cast is perfect too including the always great J. K. Simmons (Bob), Danny McBride (Jim Miller), Jason Bateman (Craig Gregory), Melanie Lynskey (Julie Bingham), Amy Morton (Kara Bingham), Sam Elliott (Maynard Finch), Zach Galifianakis (Steve) and Chris Lowell (Kevin).

Trivia: Jason Reitman is the son of director Ivan Reitman. Anna Kendrick was nominated for Broadway's 1998 Tony Award as Best Actress (Featured Role - Musical) for "High Society." She was the second youngest nominee (after 1991's Tony winner in the same category, Daisy Eagan) in Tony history. Vera Farmiga grew up in a Ukranian-speaking enclave in New Jersey and did not speak English until she was six. George Clooney says he will never get married again, nor have any children, but Michelle Pfeiffer and Nicole Kidman both bet $10,000 each that he would be a father before he turned 40. They were both wrong, and each sent him a check. He returned the money, betting double or nothing that he won't have kids by age 50. He will be 50 in 2011.

Predilection: I like George Clooney

Critters: None

Sex Spectrum: There is some discussion of the Mile High Club and a scene of 'after sex' but nothing to be seen on the big screen.

Blatant Product Placement: American Airlines (not on my favorite list of airlines) must have paid a small fortune for this blatant product placement. We also get to see many Hiltons, a Hampton Inns and Hertz.

Soundtrack: Fun mix.

Opening Titles: The opening credits, with 'This Land is Your Land' in the background include a photo montage of those generic landscapes one sees from 35,000 feet as they fly across country.

Visual Art: Bingham's one room apartment in Omaha has absolutely no personal touches since he lives in hotels for most of the year.

Theater Audience: There was one other guy in the secret balcony with us. I did hear laughter coming from downstairs.

Weather: It snows in many of the cities where American Airlines flies and where people are getting fired.

Sappy Factor: 0

Quirky Meter: 0

Squirm Scale: It is squirmy to see people being fired.

Drift Factor: It could have used a bit of editing in the middle.

Predictability Level: High

Tissue Usage: 0

Oscar Worthy: No - but it would not surprise me if there were some nominations anyway.

Big Screen or Rental: Either would do - but I like looking at George Clooney on the big screen.

Length: Under two hours.