Review: Up in the Air

It’s Monday so it’s time for another poster. As you can see from my review, Kick-Ass was awesome. Go see it, it’s a lot of fun. I don’t see the issue with all the violence, how it’s “amoral” as one reviewer put it. It’s a movie. If you’re appalled by Hit Girl’s antics, I would assume you’re just as appalled with any action movie where a character kills lots and lots of bad guys. If this is the case, why are you watching a movie like Kick-Ass anyway?

I was also able to watch Pistol: The Birth of a Legend on Netflix last night. I always did really like this movie. It’s about a young “Pistol” Pete Maravich, an 8th grader that gets pulled up to play on the Varsity team. It’s very corny, doesn’t have the best acting in the world, and a good chunk ficticious, but it’s still quite enjoyable for me. As a basketball coach, it’s amazing to see all the drills that I teach come directly from Maravich (and they’re seen in action in the movie).

Now to the subject at hand…

Up in the Air (2009)

Starring: George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, and Anna Kendrick

Directed By: Jason Reitman

What would it be like to live out of a suitcase? To be constantly be on a plane going from one place to another? To never be home? I enjoy flying. If I can get someplace on a plane in little over an hour versus going the same distance in six hours or more, I’d rather hop on the plane. However, I would like to end up home sooner rather than later. I couldn’t imagine being on the road (or in the air in this case) for over 300 days a year. This is the kind of life Ryan Bingham (Clooney) lives.

Bingham works for a company that sends its workers out to “let people go” for other companies (those without the “balls” to do it themselves, as Ryan puts it). Ryan has no real friends and he’s estranged from his family. His only relationships are with his assistant, his boss (Jason Bateman), and with the women he was non-committal flings with. This is the way he likes it. He’s a loner without what he perceives to be the confines of possessions and relationships to keep him down. He even gives “motivational” speeches telling people they need to ditch everything in order to be truly alive.

Along the way, he meets Alex Goran (Farmiga). Alex lives very much the same life he does. She travels almost as frequently as Ryan does and they immediately hit it off. Meanwhile, Ryan’s company brings in a young woman named Natalie Keener (Kendrick). She has ideas to revolutionize what they do: namely taking everyone off the road and firing people via webcam. This angers Ryan as it threatens his lifestyle. He takes her out on the road to teach her what it really takes to do their job. All of this is going on as Ryan takes fake pictures for his sister who’s getting married, but doesn’t have enough money to go on an actual honeymoon.

The plot is actually very engaging. Although Natalie is much younger than Ryan, you can see the cynical man slowly learn from her (much more than she learns from him). He begins to open up more to Alex, even taking her to his sister’s wedding where he warms up again to his family. This is the point of the movie. Can an old dog learn new tricks? Will Ryan completely open up? If he does, what happens then?

It is never said what happened to make Ryan behave the way he does, we can only assume. It is nice to see the ice melt away throughout the movie. What director Jason Reitman doesn’t give us is the Hollywood ending. What happens is rather depressing, but that’s okay. The purpose is to watch Ryan’s attempt to return to the land of emotions and the movie does a wonderful job showing it.

All three main actors were nominated for Oscars and rightfully so. Clooney is his usual charming self, but shows some very good range when things don’t go his way. Farmiga is equally charming, acting as the female version of Ryan. I most enjoyed Kendrick’s Natalie, however, and not just because of my crush on her. One of the few things that made Twilight halfway tolerable, Kendrick plays the intelligent, albeit slightly naive role superbly.

Bottom Line: Jason Reitman is on a roll. I loved his first two movies (Thank You For Smoking and Juno) and this is more of the same. He directs a great script and put together a great cast to help pull it off. The characters aren’t cartoons. Just like Reitman’s other movies, you actually believe that people like this can and do exist.

9.5/10 (Highly Recommended).

Wow, another favorable review. I need to see something I don’t like…oh wait, I think I am. This Wednesday, I’ll be reviewing an epic movie: a movie about a dog that apparently knows karate. It can’t be as bad as the trailer for Marmaduke is, can it?

Until then…

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