Up in the Air (2009)

up in the air poster 2009 movie
9.0 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

Interesting story, good cast


Movie Info

Movie Name:   Up in the Air

Studio:  DreamWorks Pictures

Genre(s):  Comedy/Drama

Release Date(s):   September 5, 2009 (Telluride Film Festival)/December 4, 2009 (US)

MPAA Rating:  R

up in the air george clooney flying

Flying the friendly skies

Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) fires people…that is his job, and he likes it.  He travels the United States and lives out of his bag, but when he is suddenly called back to Omaha by his boss (Jason Bateman), Ryan discovers things are going to change.  He’s being called home and a young upstart named Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick) has found a way to cut the company cost by working out of the office.  Ryan gets permission to show Natalie what he does in day-to-day life before he’s grounded, and he hopes to change her mind about her plans.  With his sister’s wedding coming and a new love interest in a fellow traveler named Alex Goran (Vera Farmiga), Ryan’s about to have his perfect life upset.

Directed by Ivan Reitman (who also helped adapt the script with Sheldon Turner), Up in the Air is a comedy drama.  The film premiered at the Telluride Film Festival and was met with acclaim.  It adapts the 2001 novel Up in the Air by Walter Kim and was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Actor (Clooney), Best Supporting Actress (Kendrick and Farmiga), Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Director.

I enjoyed Up in the Air when I saw it, and it is a movie that I have revisited a few times.  The film was very timely when it premiered but the basic core of the story has held up over the years.  Up in the Air is a film that has staying power.

up in the air natalie keener anna kendrick george clooney

Babysitting is fun!

The story is about the compartmentalized lives that people get trapped in.  The workers being fired are scared but liberated (it was a bad time for the United States with a lot of companies closing down after the housing crash).  Clooney is like the people he fires in that he’s trapped in his back bag which he sees a s a good thing since to him being “free” is an achievement.  The world begins to collapse when he is forced to reconnect with his family, tutor a young woman, and allows himself to consider the possibility of a real relationship.  Clooney gets burned in the end, but just like his fired people, it also liberates him…his character could actually seek change.

The role is perfect for Clooney.  Like many of his roles, he’s the mouthpiece that smoothly delivers a calming voice, but his character is a wreck.  It helps that Clooney is debonair and not a slob…anyone who would see him would expect him to have it all.  Both Kendrick and Farmiga are ying-and-yang.  Farmiga is Kendrick is fifteen years (as Kendrick’s character says) if she follows the path of distance, but while Kendrick is very open about her world and life, Farmiga also reveals she is hiding and essentially playing a game.  The movie features a lot of great supporting cast including Jason Bateman, Melanie Lynskey, Danny McBride, and Sam Elliot.  The movie also features J.K. Simmons and Zach Galifianakis as people being fired along with real employees who have been let go in the one-on-one interviews.  Ashton Kutcher also has an uncredited role as Natalie’s boyfriend.

up in the air ending george clooney airport

Where will you go next?

The movie also looks slick.  Airports and airplanes are always so streamlined.  Like Clooney’s character, they are neat and organized.  The frequent flyer world is even more so and it makes for a great contrast when he returns home to northern Wisconsin and finds himself in a world he doesn’t know (but much more home-y).  With their slickness, airports also rarely have emotion except for those meeting and saying goodbye to loved ones…something Clooney doesn’t do.

Up in the Air is a nice thinking movie that can be enjoyed for what it is and also for deeper meaning.  It is easily likable, and I do think it is one of the better movies of the first ten years of the 2000s.  The movie is the type of movie that I could see a smart “revisiting” sometime with Clooney’s character older and either wiser (or more bitter), but if they leave it as the film ended, it is also a great ending with Clooney flying on and on and on.

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Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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