Up in the Air (2009)
Reviewed on 2010 January 15
Very thought-provoking movie about a corporate mercenary who seems to think of airplanes as his own comforting white noise machine.
Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) is a hired axe man for CEOs who are too weaselly to dirty their own hands by laying off staff. His company flies him across the nation to deliver the bad news and an “opportunity” packet, sometimes to warm locations but usually to places like Detroit in winter. Ryan doesn’t enjoy the pain of the people but he’s good at what he does, and he likely pulls in a very nice salary; more desirable to him though are the perks bestowed upon frequent travelers. He has a collection of luxury rewards cards and waltzes through the airport check-ins as gracefully as anyone post-Nigerian Underoo Idiot can. Since he’s home less than a month a year, that makes it hard for him to meet people, but that’s no matter to him. He likes his privacy, his carry-on bag life, and the occasional no-strings attached hookup with Alex (Vera Farmiga). In a scene reminiscent of the Rene Russo and Mel Gibson characters comparing battle scars in Lethal Weapon III, Alex and Ryan compare their perks.
Mostly, though, Ryan just lives to travel. Things may change abruptly when his boss Craig (Jason Bateman) brings a new employee into their fold: Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick). If you ever wondered what happened to the girl who sat behind you in study hall and would snitch on you if you colored outside the lines or whatever, there she is, complete with sensible pumps and a no-nonsense pony tail. Natalie thinks she’s going to revamp the way the company does things, and Ryan gets the job of taking her on a firing spree.
This was a low-key movie but it still made me think about what we value in our day-to-day lives, and the importance of our careers. The acting was good, with Clooney being able to present Ryan as something other than a total reptile and Kendrick nailing it as the annoying co-worker bosses always seems to love (and the rest of us dread). It also shows how horrible it is to lose your livelihood. Read the IMDb trivia after you see the movie.
Three chocolate morsels and a small pouch of snack mix.