As anyone who travels for a living will tell you, Up in the Air doesn't just capture the world of the business traveler. It nails it. Or, as Dan Jenkins might say, "It's dead solid perfect."
Up in the Air follows the travels and travails of Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) a flying mercenary on a singular mission: firing people. It's not something he particularly enjoys, but he's good at it. What he's best at, however, is getting from point A to point B on an airplane.
Ryan's a ROCK STAR when it comes to travelling. He negotiates airports, Admirals' Clubs and TSA checkpoints with ease. In short, he's the guy you pray you get behind at the next security screening. He's THAT GOOD.
Director Jason Reitman (Juno, Thank You for Smoking) keeps the film from becoming a travelogue. Instead, he packs this cinematic carryon with a story about compromised people and what's left in their vapor trail.
You'd think with all this baggage it might crash and burn. Don't worry. This baby has plenty of lift.
What makes Bingham's spirits soar is female road warrior Alex Goran (Vera Farmiga) whom he meets (not surprisingly) in an airport bar. Before you can say "return your tray tables and seatbacks to their upright and locked position" Bingham is boinking Alex and life looks pretty darned good.
Even after Bingham's airport assignation his life remains uncomplicated. He travels 322 days a year and gets all of his assignments while on the road. One week he's in Detroit. Next week Duluth. All with a stopover in Dallas. He has his firing speech down pat. He's a cool, emotionless, downsizing demigod.
His life rolls along like the very best travel luggage until his company grounds him. Thanks to Al Gore and that infernal internet, Ryan and his road warrior comrades are summoned home to learn how to fire folks via the web. His boss (wonderfully played by Jason Bateman) has this brilliant idea thanks to spunky, ecommerce consultant Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick).
After shooting holes in Keener's online firing squad (the scene where he critiques Keener's presentation is exquisitely painful,) Bingham convinces his boss to send Keener out to see the firing process up close and very personal.
Bingham's personal life gets a little more personal thanks to his road trip with Keener and his road warrior romance with Alex. Hookups, breakups and family commitments threaten to send his life off course, but he's been on the road long enough to know where to land.
Brilliant cameos dot his fly-over country thanks to Danny McBride (Pineapple Express,) Melanie Lynskey (Away We Go,) J.K. Simmons (Juno) and Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover). By the time this movie checks in (109 minutes) you'll be wondering if you've reached your destination or if you're just changing planes.
It doesn't really matter.
Up in the Air is grounded in the belief that every trip is worth taking. You'll be glad you came along for the ride.
The Boomer Brief recommends Netflix for your movie rentals. The monthly rental packages start at only $4.99 - and you can cancel at any time.
Here's a DVDelicious Bonus I don't get on an airplane without thinking of Emmylou Harris' classic, Boulder to Birmingham. My only gripe with Up in the Air is that they didn't use it in the soundtrack. Here's the opening verse: Boulder to Birmingham Emmylou Harris/Bill Danoff I don't want to hear a love song For all of my Boomer friends who love this southern songbird, here's Emmylou's rendition of the song she made famous on her album Pieces of the Sky
I got on this airplane just to fly
And I know there's life below me
But all that you can show me
Is the prairie and the sky...
Here's a DVDelicious Bonus
I don't get on an airplane without thinking of Emmylou Harris' classic, Boulder to Birmingham. My only gripe with Up in the Air is that they didn't use it in the soundtrack. Here's the opening verse:
Boulder to Birmingham
Emmylou Harris/Bill Danoff
I don't want to hear a love song
For all of my Boomer friends who love this southern songbird, here's Emmylou's rendition of the song she made famous on her album Pieces of the Sky