Home > 2009 Movie Reviews > Up in the Air Review

Up in the Air Review

Up in the Air

Up in the Air is a great story with a great cast. It is funny, witty and extremely entertaining. George Clooney still has it!

My rating 5.0 Stars

I work for a financial printing company. I am part of the IT department and the web team. My job is to develop and maintain a host of online tools for our clients to use. Our main tool is an enrollment system. When our clients hire new people and they enroll those new employees in 401K’s and other retirement programs, they use our tools to order the materials they need to hand out to their new employees. If you haven’t heard—that is if you’ve been living under a rock or a new to this planet—there’s been a financial crisis all over the world. Because of it, not too many companies are hiring and as a result our online enrolment tools are not being used and therefore my company suffers.

At the beginning of the year, my company was forced to let go 10% of its workforce. My department alone saw a decrease in almost half of its personnel and those of us who were lucky enough to keep our jobs got a reduction in salary. The financial crisis affected a lot of people. If you were one of the lucky ones that it didn’t get affected, you at least knew someone who had been.

The movie Up in the Air is a reflection of the times. The story was taken from a novel of the same name written in 2001. If you ask me, one of the reasons this movie did so well was timing. If they had released this movie back in 2001, I don’t think it would have done as well for several different reasons. Up in the Air is about a man who works for a company that is employed by other companies to come in to fire their employees for them. When a large company needs to fire or lay-off a large number of people and the cowards in upper management don’t want to get their hands dirty, they hire this company to do their dirty work.

Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) is one of these individuals that travels all of over the States from city to city and company to company doing these firings. At first you think to yourself what kind of monster could do such a job? You would have to be a heartless SOB to be able to be in such a career and maybe you’re right. However, Ryan isn’t a monster; in fact he is sympathetic to the people that he is firing. He recognizes that being fired, especially in the way that they are being fired by some stranger from the street they never even met, is probably the most humiliating experience and the lowest point of their lives. He has a certain quality to him that allows him to remain professional but also console and encourage the person on the other side of the desk. I don’t know how he does it, but somehow he puts a positive spin on the whole termination process and in some small way, by doing so, he returns at least a bit of their dignity and integrity back to that person. That is Ryan’s job, he is good at it and he seems to love it. Of course, there is more to Ryan than just his job.

Ryan is a loner. He likes it like that. In my opinion he likes to distance himself from people because of the nature of his job. He doesn’t have any friends, he doesn’t have a wife and he does his best to stay away from his family. This is his mantra, the code by which he lives his life. He believes that the things you own, the people in your life, your relationships and anything you have to carry around or protect, hold you back in life. So he cuts himself off from everything and everyone. He can put all of his possessions in one carry-on suitcase. That is Ryan’s personality and he is happy or so he thinks.

However, Ryan’s loner life is about to change because of two women who are about to enter his life. The first woman to enter his life in the movie is Alex Goran (Vera Fermiga). Ryan doesn’t believe in relationships, he has no use for them, or is it that he just never met the right girl? When he meets Alex for the first time, it is all casual for him, but he is so intrigued by her and how similar they both are that he can’t help it but fall in love with her. Since both of their jobs require a lot of traveling, their relationship consisted of meeting in hotels during layovers and connecting fights which I thought was very comical and interesting.

The second woman to enter his life was Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick). Natalie is a young, eager and naïve Cornell graduate who is has just started working for the same company as Ryan. She is full of ideas and her boss is intrigued by them and wants to start implementing her ideas at work as soon as possible. What’s the big idea? In their line of work, the company has to send their employees to different cities across the nation, costing them money and time. With the rising cost of travel, Natalie’s new idea of using the internet to set up video chats instead of meeting in person could potentially save the company millions in travel money and they could do more work in one day. It sounds great on paper. However, as Natalie will soon find out, the reality is much more complicated than just setting up a web cam in front of a client.

I was really impressed with this movie. It was really fun to watch, I liked how they turned such a trivial subject managed to make an interesting movie out of it. This is a simple story, but it is filled with complicated and interested characters brilliantly played by a great cast. I enjoyed the interaction between the characters it seemed so natural and real and they made it look and feel effortless. Come the Oscars next year I am going to have a tough time deciding who to root for: Precious or Up in the Air.

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