George Clooney plays the dry cynical character of Ryan Bingham, an executive who specializes in "downsizing". Ryan lives out of his suitcase, traveling the country for the sole purpose terminating unwanted employees day after day. Just as Ryan is about to reach his life-long goal of the ten million mile frequent flyer mark some major changes come his way. Changes that threaten to crack the cold heartless exterior that is Ryan Bingham.
For those of us that like happy endings, this was a severe disappointment. There were many ways they could have salvaged this movie even with the big surprise, but they failed to do so. Instead, the writers dropped "the bomb" and spent the rest of the movie showing the "damage."
So what could have been a very entertaining romantic comedy, instead turned into a depressing life story drama.
At The Movies
Up in the Air (PG) * * * * *
Director: Jason Reitman
Stars: George Clooney, Vera Farmiga
Studio: Paramount Pictures
Audience Suitability: PG
Rating: * * * * *
Release Date: Dec. 11, 2009
Running Time: 109 Minutes
By ROBERT WALDMAN
Looks like Jason Reitman has hit his stride. As a director and writer he has had three tremendously entertaining films in a row. Reitman follows up the sensational Juno and Thank You For Smoking with currently in theatres Up in the Air. Sure to be heard loud and clear come Oscar time this seductively entertaining escapade from Paramount Pictures is now firing up audiences at the Scotiabank Theatre and Fifth Avenue Cinemas, to be followed in short order by other cinemas across B.C..
Worth any length of wait in a line up is this clever 109 minute yarn. Perfectly paralleling the plight of countless North Americans facing economic starvation is this tale about a so-called efficiency expert up to his eyeballs in applying his skills. Work for Ryan Bingham involves firing people. George Clooney (Ocean’s 11) brings all his charms to this swarmy character who has a rather special talent. Bad news is hard for anyone to receive but this Bingham chap is an artist when it comes to telling folks their services are no longer required. Call him the devil incarnate, able to do the dirty work managers or owners of firms simply don’t want to engage in. After all, we all know that some ex-employees can go postal and become violent. Years of experience has left Bingham with just the right subtle approach to do the deed. Like a master quarterback it’s somewhat of a guilty pleasure to see Bingham go through the motions.
Work is everything for this middle-aged man who travels literally out of a suitcase. Collectors of air miles or those who covet company point plans would learn a lot from this guy’s playbook. Even the best laid plans come undone on occasion and the introduction of a new employee at head office throws a rather big wrench into Mr. Bingham’s winning ways.
Just like the name suggests Natalie Keener is quite a keener to further increase profits at Bingham’s company. Anna Kendrick (Twilight) burns up the screen as the newcomer who grates Bingham the wrong way. Talk about a contrast in styles. It’s hilarious to watch these two try to tell the unsuspected that their careers have come to a screeching halt. Sadness also weighs heavily on those affected.
Besides all this further complications confront Bingham. Long on his own a touch of melancholy sets in that not even a new fling can help contain. Affairs are common everywhere and those who travel have the ideal chance to form dalliances. Chance encounters can also be loads of fun and full of pitfalls as relationships unfold. Sparks do fly when Bingham meets the fetching Alex Goran, played coyly in a sexy way by Vera Farmiga (Orphan).
Put simply, Clooney makes this movie his own and rocks with the role. Chemistry explodes on screen between Clooney and Farmiga who both engage each other with just the right amount of humour to pull you in. Reitman further ups the ante by exploring in detail what relationships are all about as a bittersweet twist develops for many of the characters we come into contact with.
Great dialogue that’s witty and sly and very well-grounded makes Up in the Air a spectacular, smart story about the jobs none of us want which some of us can excel at. Clooney has never been better and looks terrific as a hired gun who may be left with a few blanks in his ever momentous life. Tests for good films are when characters can develop and change over time. In Up in the Air that change is handled masterfully by one of the best new directors and writers out there. Good wishes go out also to the brave participants in this fact based movie who actually were fired and were good enough to recount their actual experiences clandestinely on camera, the results of which turned out to be considerably superior to any reality television program.
Read more reviews by Robert at www.moviereviewsite.com