Thoughts on 'Up in the Air' . . .

Posted by 2 Dollar Productions Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Worth Full-Price, Matinee or Rental: Full price. 'Up in the Air' uses a timely storyline and pulls stellar performances from its entire cast to deliver what is easily one of the best movies of the year.

Will I Own It On DVD: Probably. I'm trying to recalculate exactly what my criteria will be for buying movies moving forward in 2010, but I definitely want to see this film another time or two because it's worth it.

Overrall Grade: A-

1) Occasionally, through a sliver of foresight and an extreme bit of luck, a movie will be released that fits so nicely into the current cultural climate that it seems a physic must have green-lit the project. So it goes with ‘Up in the Air,’ a movie about a professional corporate downsizer (George Clooney) who travels back and forth across the country while delivering painful job news for the masses, and due to the rotten overall economy, this position keeps Clooney constantly in the air, which is just where he prefers to be. His life becomes complicated, however, when a recent Cornell graduate (Anna Kendrick) joins his firm and recommends cutting back on travel costs by having associates terminate employees via remote teleconferencing. As this unfolds, Clooney also meets a fellow corporate traveler (Vera Farmiga) who enjoys the transient lifestyle as much as he does.

2) ‘Up in the Air’ has been sold by its marketing team largely as a comedy, and while there are occasionally amusing bits which offer smiles rather than laugh out loud moments - despite a large woman sitting a few rows up and to my left whose crazed staccato laugh painted even the most mundane scenes with an unwelcome tenor - the film tilts far closer towards drama than anything else. It’s a tough movie, especially given the subject matter, but it is also a rewarding experience.

3) Clooney’s performance is one of dignified detachment – at least until he decides he does indeed want to connect with real people on the ground. He gives a performance that is generating Oscar buzz for Best Actor, and I would be surprised if he doesn’t receive a nomination.

4) The overall cast is also uniformly excellent as there is not a weak link among them. Kendrick takes what could have been a cloying role as a young, ambitious newcomer and turns it into a vaguely sympathetic one. Jason Bateman is also very good as Clooney’s boss. But it is Verma Farga (‘The Departed’) as a fellow frequent flier who develops a romance with Clooney who really shines and who might end up with a Best Support Actress Oscar nomination.

5) ‘Up in the Air’ is a really fine film. It’s a project without obvious good guys and villains. Instead, it accomplishes an even trickier narrative where complexity reigns over the participants, and the end results are well worth viewing even when the subject matter is tough.



  1. JLee Says:
  2. I really enjoyed this but agree that it was painted more of a comedy than it really is. During the scene where Kendrick has to do her first tele-firing, someone's phone in the audience started ringing loudly (and they let it ring all the way to voicemail) BASTARDS! Don't they watch the 50 warnings to "silence their phones" before the movie??
    I was wondering if the narration would bother you, but it works for this one for sure. I do see some Oscar nominations for sure.

  3. Boxer Says:
  4. I'm glad you saw this and I agree with you about everything. Certainly NOT the "romantic comedy" it was originally sold as (WTF?) but like JUNO and THANKS FOR SMOKING, this film is honest and raw and yet.... the characters were very human/real. The ending left me "up in the air" and I liked that it wasn't all wrapped up with a happy "Hollywood" bow at the end. I thought his visit to his sister's wedding and being a guest/stranger was when my heart broke for Clooney's character. I could really see the price he paid for his inability to "stay grounded".

    Good review. I hope this movie gets the attention it deserves.

  5. Heff Says:
  6. Wow. A "full price" review.

    Few and far between.

  7. Jlee - Definitely. I guess it's hard to sell drama. And I really loathe movie audiences more and more. Ha. Seriously, it burns me up and no, they care nothing about warnings/pleas/etc about cell phones & talking. I liked the narration just fine here, and yeah, there will be a handfull of noms for this one. Bet on it.

    Boxer - Agreed. All the way around. 'Romantic Comedy' my ass. Ha. And I liked the ending because there really wasn't a way to end it that would have stayed true to the tone and/or characters. I thought it tried as best it could & like the movie, was shaded with gray. You're right about the wedding scene too. Definitely. Here's my quick Oscar nom list 'Air' will receive: Best Actor (Clooney), Best Supporting Actress (Farmiga), Best Director (Reitman), Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Movie. You heard it here first (probably not)>

  8. Heff - Flew by you in Cyberspace . . . Yeah, but I paid matinee prices to see it. Ha. Really, I wouldn't pay full price for any movie unless I absolutely had to. I think, however, that any movie I assume will be up for a Best Picture Oscar (and one that I agree should be) is worth paying full price. That's the $2 standard. For now.

  9. nobich Says:
  10. Oh good I'm glad you liked it because I wanted to see this. ( I didn't even mind the name )

  11. Linda Says:
  12. I really enjoyed this one too. I was surprised at how good it was, it made me laugh, it made me cry. Reitman's got a great touch.

  13. Nobich - When I first read about this in a movie preview a long time ago, it sounded cheesy (title included), but it's really good. Go figure. Ha.

    Linda - It definitely had a mixture of both as it was as good as I hoped it would be - which is always a nice surprise when it matches up to expecatations. :)

  14. Gypsy Says:
  15. Well as usual I hadn't even heard of this movie but it definitely seems popular with everyone here.

    It sounds like an original story and one that isn't too predictable which is real bonus these days. And who wouldn't want to watch George Clooney?

  16. I'll probably wait for this one to come out on DVD, but I've heard Clooney is great in it. I've also heard that this one should be more rewatchable than Michael Clayton, which was one of my favorite movies the year it came out.

  17. Gypsy - I imagine it will be over your way soon, and when Oscar noms come out, it will get more press too. I would recommend you catch it when it arrives as Clooney and the rest of the cast are very good.

    Native Minnow - I agree on 'Clayton' as I own it and have seen it twice (once in theaters, once on DVD). That's why I'm not sure if I will buy 'Air' when it comes out. But you should definitely check it out . . .

  18. Boxer Says:
  19. Have you seen AVATAR?

    I did. And not because I wanted to, but I went as a group.

    I loved it. Loved it.

  20. really? Hummm. I guess this proves that you can't rely on previews to determine if you want to see a movie or not.

    I will check it out this weekend.

    Bummer about McCoy, and believe me when I say I know EXACTLY how your stomach felt when you saw that. Hope he's ok soon. He's a good kid and generally, I like him.

    Although, I'm not sure that TX would have done much better if he was still in. This Bama defence is harsh.

    Sorry it took me all week to get over here.

  21. holy cow, froshy has settled down! he's looking pretty (very) good! Pullin for your horns! Ouch.

  22. Boxer - I have not - yet. Plan to see it on IMAX 3D. Glad to hear you liked it becauase I haven't been that excited to see it, but I figure it will lose a lot when it hits the small screen, so I will check it out soon. Thanks for the recommendation.

    KMWTHAY - Some weeks are like it. :) This movie is hard to put into preview form, but it is definitely a good one. The odds of McCoy getting hurt the first series of the Nat Champ game are astronomically bad. I think we would have won if he would have played, especially considering a freshman who has never played nearly brought them back even with a ton of turnovers. Still, painful to watch . . .


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