Originally Reviewed – 2/8/2010
Just as a quick background check, I used to travel for a living. In 2006, I spent 216 nights in hotel rooms in various parts of the country, usually for four to six weeks at a stretch. Traveling for a living, while it’s an ever changing life, still has moments grounded in routine. How early you need to get to the airport, what type of amenities required for hotel stays, even down to what type of shoes you wear to breeze through security are all dictated by the experience of business related travel..
Imagine then my excitement when the trailer for a film directed by the always great Jason Reitman (Thank You For Smoking, Juno) staring George Clooney as a jet-set road warrior first came out. Luckily for me, the film did not disappoint as Up In The Air is a thoughtful, well written, and finely acted affair that should get more than it’s fair share of buzz this coming awards season.
Up In The Air is the story of Ryan Bingham, who travels around the country as an out-sourced firing expert. Along the way, he meets his female counterpart, expertly played by Vera Farmiga, as well as a newcomer to the company who travels with him to learn the ropes, played by Anna Kendrick. All three of the leads do an exceptional job with the characters, giving each one an emotional depth to go with the genuinely funny moments. Reitman’s films are often dark comedies featuring unlikable protagonists that you secretly wish you could be like, but Up In The Air is a much more balanced affair. While the characters don’t lead “normal” lives, you can’t help but admire their conviction to their life decisions, despite everything they miss out on in the process.
George Clooney in particular does a great job in the lead role. Clooney has played the cool, confident character before, but never with this kind of arc or depth. The character of Ryan Bingham goes through quite a journey in this film, but never once do you feel the feelings are forced or sacrine.
Up in The Air is also one of the best written films of the year, with a script that teems with a healthy dose of dark humor as well as more serious fare. To be sure, this is a comedy at its core, but there is enough emotion to make the funny moments even more memorable. The film is also has a very nice look to it, making it an all around pleasure to watch. If you’re looking for a film that provides humor, drama and even a touching scene or two in a perfectly balanced package, Up In The Air will not disappoint. Where Thank You For Smoking felt very forced at times and Juno overdid it on the quirky / cutesy factor, Reitman found his balance in this, his best film to date. Sure to be an Oscar nominated film and highly recommended.
Score – 90%