“Up in the Air”, comments from a captive passenger on the runway

Once again I’m fairly shocked at the critics, who, at least in the poll I saw, gave this movie an average A- and I see it’s also won a slew of noms and awards, including Best Film by the National Board of Review. Maybe it’s because everybody loves George Clooney. Maybe it’s because it coincidentally addresses that great national meme, unemployment. Maybe it’s because 2009 was another really dreadful year for movies, and this is just one of them that isn’t that bad.

Ok, it’s not THAT bad.

In fact, I enjoyed a lot of it. But I wouldn’t be writing this if it were all sunshine and rainbows, now would I, so here comes the shit.


There are two things that bothered me about this movie. The first one is the opportunistic and condescending stance this material takes to those poor slobs in the flyover states (that’s where it largely takes place) who’ve been laid off/let go/downsized/what have you. In fact, the filmmakers go as far as to use “real people” who’ve lost their jobs as fill-in actors to play opposite Clooney & Co.’s fire-for-hire business (his character is a man who flies around the country firing people so that their own bosses can avoid this annoying task). I took this as Hollywood’s version of yes, we feel your pain! We really do, and in fact we are going to give you a SAG day rate and a shot at your 15 minutes by letting you be in this movie!

All well and good, and I hope it makes director Jason Reitman (member of a highly successful, employed and prominent Hollywood family) and George Clooney (member of a highly successful, employed and prominent entertainment family) feel better, though I doubt that either of them are going to have to try and figure out how to pay their COBRA premiums anytime soon. Or ever.

The other thing that bothered me was dishonest and story-related. The George character (Ryan) has a girlfriend in the film, Alex (Vera Farmiga), who, like him, is some kind of business-class road warrior. OK, so they are getting along great, sharing hotel rooms and hotel bars, room service, plush robes and the like, when Ryan has the great idea to invite his sex buddy to a family wedding as his date. Well, she’s incredulous, and rightly so; still, she agrees to go for the WEEKEND to some small town in Wisconsin (some sign somewhere says Waupaca, though I grew up in Milwaukee I don’t remember where Waupaca is) and they both have a fun, helpful and very lovey-dovey time. In Wisconsin, at his sister’s wedding, for the damn weekend.

So. Ryan gets so inspired by all this to perhaps think that commitment is not such a bad thing after all, so he uses some of his coveted frequent flier miles to jet off to Chicago to find his lady and profess his love for her. Only thing is, when he shows up unannounced at her very chic brownstone – and she opens the door – it’s apparent she has a husband and at least two little kids (who are running around in the background). Of course, Vera chastises Ryan for showing up at her house (like, for sure, what was he THINKING??) and Ryan backs away, looking devastated.

But Ryan is not nearly as devastated as is the moviegoer who has endured this unbelievable scenario. Sorry, but I just don’t buy that a mother, no matter how much the vixen she is, would go away for the weekend (on a whim) with her fuckbuddy to a resort wedding a couple of hundred miles away from home where she has no idea if anyone she knows in the “real life” would be there or not – not to say married road-warrior women don’t have affairs, but I just think, it would be really hard to juggle the kids, hubby, the sex pals on the road, and go off unannounced to her boyfriend’s sisters nuptials, all on lies that must be sustained for hours, days on end. Come on.

Plus, you could see this coming a mile away, as the poor romantic sap is rushing up that snowy walk, we just know what’s behind that door is something he doesn’t want to see.


~ by jimarnoldla on December 29, 2009.

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