Up in the Air Film Review

Mile-High Sitcom – George Clooney as Hatchet Man

George Clooney is Ryan Bingham, whose services are very much in demand through dire economic times marked by downsizing and the outsourcing of jobs overseas. Although?he euphemistically refers to his line of work as Career Transition Counseling, what he actually does for a living is fire people for companies that don’t have the guts to terminate their own employees.?In this capacity, the heartless hatchet man finds himself on the road, or should I say “up in the air” over 300 days a year, crisscrossing the country on assignments as dictated by his boss, Craig, played by Jason Bateman,?from corporate headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska.

However,?all the incessant travel is to rudderless Ryan’s liking. After?all, the confirmed bachelor isn’t in a relationship, and he admittedly feels more at home in hotels and on planes than in the tiny apartment he very rarely uses. Furthermore, he puts little stock in worldly possessions beyond an obsession with racking up frequent-flyer miles in order to enjoy the conveniences which flow from upgrades in car rentals, credit cards, and first-class accommodation.

George Clooney, in Up in the Air
George Clooney, in Up in the Air

feels more at home in hotels and on planes than in the tiny apartment he very rarely uses.

Everything?changes for Ryan?the day he trades pleasantries with Vera Farmiga as Alex, a kindred spirit he encounters in an airport lounge. For, as?it turns out, the striking businesswoman is ostensibly also a peripatetic loner living out of suitcases and equally-fixated on accumulating travel perks. Their ensuing, alcohol-fueled flirtation leads to an impulsive one-night stand, plus plans for further passionate rendezvous whenever their hectic itineraries intersect.

Their?star-crossed romance rests at the heart of Up in The Air,?the latest offering from Jason Reitman. The?film is only loosely based on the identically-titled Walter Kirn?best seller which doesn’t really revolve around any steamy affair. The film also introduces a totally new character not in the novel, Anna Kendrick, as Natalie. She’s RyanRyan’s recently-hired colleague who comes up with the bright idea of their firing folks via video conferencing. If?her idea is adopted by their boss, it will put an abrupt end not only to Ryan’s?field trips but to his budding romance with Alex.

Although?this inspired, mile-high sitcom is a delightful romp, it is likely to prove to be a bit of a disappointment for Reitman?fans measuring it against either Juno?or Thank You for Smoking?which earned the #1 spot on this critic’s Top 10 List of 2006. While Clooney and Farmiga are up to the challenge of generating screen chemistry and of exchanging the writer/director’s trademark pithy banter, Anna Kendrick often comes across as unsure of herself, and thus fails to deliver her lines with the requisite terminally-hip tone.

Fortunately,?the rest of the support cast, from J.K. Simmons to Sam Elliott to Danny McBride to Zach Galifianakis, executes its dialogue with perfect aplomb, enabling Up in The Air to serve up a down-to-earth look at 21st century dating habits in this no-strings age of friends with benefits.

Up in the Air
Very?Good (3 Stars)
Rated?R for profanity and sexuality.
Running?Time: 109 minutes
Studio: Paramount Pictures

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Kam Williams is a popular and top NewsBlaze reviewer, our chief critic. Kam gives his unvarnished opinion on movies, DVDs and books, plus many in-depth and revealing celebrity interviews.

Sadly, Lloyd Kam Williams passed away in 2019, leaving behind a huge body of work focused on America’s black entertainment community. We were as sad to hear of his passing as we were overjoyed to have him as part of our team.