With a job that has him traveling around the country firing people, Ryan Bingham leads an empty life out of a suitcase until his company does the unexpected--ground him. Studio: Paramount Home Video Release Date: 03/09/201... more »0 Starring: George Clooney Run time: 109 minutes Rating: R Director: Jason Reitman« less
Brendon M. from EL SEGUNDO, CA Reviewed on 8/20/2016...
Clooney is solid in this one as is the rest of the cast. Based on the novel of the same name by Walter Kirn, this movie pretty much captured the zeitgeist that was the Great Recession while providing a lesson on what really matters in life. The ending is pretty powerful (I didn't grasp its significance the first time around -- pay attention to Anna Kendrick's character's dialogue -- it provides a clue to the ending's meaning.
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Sharon R. (sharon) Reviewed on 2/27/2016...
Terrific acting, beleivable plot. Great pace...didn't get bored once. I'd rate this as s keeper...could definately watch it over and over.
Linda S. from OCALA, FL Reviewed on 12/31/2014...
I see George Clooney and sometimes avoid the movie. He's damn sexy but his views are not like mine. HOWEVER I liked him in this movie. This one has some twists. I could relate to my frequent travel days.
0 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Jennifer D. (jennicat) from ST AUGUSTINE, FL Reviewed on 3/28/2014...
One of my top movies. I could imagine myself as all of the characters.
1 of 3 member(s) found this review helpful.
Kristian L. (Katomine) from PRESCOTT, AZ Reviewed on 9/18/2013...
1 of 3 member(s) found this review helpful.
Matthew M. from WAILUKU, HI Reviewed on 7/3/2011...
Great film. Fascinating story, Very well acted. A profound reflection on much of our culture. It gave me reason to look at many things. It was heart rending at times. It was also FUN and delightfully comical. The characters were delightful. I've watched it twice so far, and I'm not done yet.
5 of 5 member(s) found this review helpful.
Lewis P. (Turfseer) from NEW YORK, NY Reviewed on 10/24/2010...
Heartthrob Clooney can't save turgid, uninspired tale of corporate downsizing
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
With the plague of 'corporate downsizing' now reaching its zenith, such a social phenomenon is bound to come to the attention of Hollywood's top name producers. Hence, Jason Reitman, son of famous Hollywood producer/director Ivan Reitman, has been given the reins to address this very issue. It also helps to have heart-throb George Clooney in the role of corporate down-sizer Ryan Bingham, who flies around the country as a sort of 'hired gun', informing various downsized employees that their services are no longer required.
Soon a young upstart, Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick), comes up with the brilliant idea of firing employees via a computer video linkup. One wonders why Ryan's company hadn't embraced this method years before, since obviously it is much more cost effective. And it's also hard to believe that a new employee such as Natalie, who is just out of school, would be the one introducing the new prototype as these video linkups (as just pointed out) have not only been around for quite some time but it's more likely a more experienced person would probably be responsible for developing or customizing it.
Somehow Ryan convinces his boss that 'face-to-face' firings still are much more preferable to firings via computer and that Natalie needs to understand the value of the 'human touch'. Ryan's boss puts the video project on hold and allows Ryan to keep jetting about firing people in person as long as Natalie accompanies him. This of course allows 'Up in the Air' to become something of a 'buddy' picture with Ryan and Natalie 'duking it out' over the nature of relationships. When Natalie finds out that Ryan has been having a casual affair with Alex, who he is constantly meeting up with while on the road, she castigates him for not getting involved. Let me add that Natalie only becomes emotional over this issue after she has been dumped by her own boyfriend (via text message). For the most part, she is a one-note cold fish who soon learns the delicate art of firing people face to face, under Ryan's tutelage.
Not much happens during the 'second act' of 'Up in the Air'. Director Reitman spends too much time presenting cameos of real-life people recreating their reactions to the news that they've been downsized. Was it necessary to 'pad' the film with these cameos? Basically one minute of the fired employees would have been enough to convey the despair of these hapless people. There are additional repetitious scenes with Ryan, while moonlighting as a motivational speaker, utilizing a backpack to illustrate his 'life philosophy' to an audience of self-help junkies at various hotel conference rooms. Reitman wastes additional time with a scene where the three principals attend a corporate party, culminating with a 'heart-to-heart' talk between Alex and Ryan on a corporate yacht.
You would think that the big 'Act Two Climax' would have something to do with the relationship between Ryan, Alex and Natalie, but it doesn't. Instead, there's an awkward subplot that pops up involving Ryan's sister's fiancé who gets cold feet just before he's about to get married. Ryan is called in by his other sister and uses his 'motivational speaker' skills to convince the errant husband-to-be, to go ahead with the wedding—which of course he does and the couple live happily ever after.
The wrap up of Act Three is decidedly a downer—and thoroughly unconvincing to boot. Despite the fact that Alex attends Ryan's sister's wedding and seemingly is now ready to become more involved with him, it just doesn't turn out that way. After giving up his motivational speaker gig, Ryan somehow finds Alex's home address and knocks on her door—only to discover that she is a married woman. Since Alex only wanted a casual relationship, it would have been much easier for her to simply tell Ryan that she was married and there would have been no hard feelings. But since the film's screenwriter was desperate to create some kind of drama (and there is so little of it in this film), we're treated to the unlikely scenario of Ryan being deflated when he discovers the true nature of Alex's marital status. As for Natalie, she quits the company after learning that one of the downsized employees that she had fired, killed herself. It appears that both Ryan and Natalie did not heed this particular employee's pronouncement while on one of their firing jaunts, as the woman did indeed explicitly state that she was going to jump off a bridge. Inexplicably, Ryan's boss puts the computer video link program on hold despite the fact that the communication between Ryan and Natalie and this particular employee, took place face to face!
Up in the Air is a slow-moving 'dramedy' with an underdeveloped plot. While it's a very nice-looking film, the actors can do very little with their parts due to the weak script. Clooney basically plays himself (as he usually does) and offers up an only serviceable performance. On the basis of director Reitman's last two films ('Juno' preceded 'Up in the Air'), it's likely we'll be seeing uninspired, mediocre films from him in the future.
1 of 6 member(s) found this review helpful.
Harry E. (HHHarry) from BALTIMORE, MD Reviewed on 5/26/2010...
This movie really surprised me. I was expecting a light frothy Rom-Com. They previews and commercials certainly lead you in that direction. While there are certainly some very funny parts of the film the real punch from this film comes more from the drama.
It is quite well acted, but what else do you expect from Clooney and Farmiga. Both are great in their roles.
This is a very good film, but you will be surprised (as was I) if you are expecting a frothy little film. It deals with some quite serious subject matter, especially these days.
6 of 6 member(s) found this review helpful.
Incisive Look at Life's Emotional Baggage Through the Journe
Ed Uyeshima | San Francisco, CA USA | 12/21/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"As someone who has both laid off staff and a year later, became the victim of a layoff after twelve years with the same company, I had a personal interest in seeing how director/co-screenwriter Jason Reitman (Thank You for Smoking, Juno) was going to adapt Walter Kirn's smart, unsettling 2001 novel. Even though eight years have elapsed since the book's publication, the filmmaker - along with co-writer Sheldon Turner - manages to deepen Kirn's themes in this wry, emotionally resonant 2009 dramedy and make them even more relevant with the pervasive downsizing of corporate America. The movie also manages to surprise even when certain plot turns seem evident before they occur. Initially, there is a veneer of cynicism that makes you think the story will be an abject lesson in the impermanence of life, but instead, it evolves into one man's journey into the heart of the emotional turbulence he had been careful to avoid. Toward that end, Reitman seems to be inspired by Alexander Payne's equally perceptive road movies, About Schmidt and Sideways, films that reflect a similar storytelling style.
The plot focuses on laser-sharp corporate layoff consultant Ryan Bingham, a man who regales in the impermanence of life by traveling 322 days on the road, informing targeted employees that they are about to lose their jobs. There is a necessary callousness in his approach, but he knows it's necessary to be present and honest when it comes to conveying the unpleasant news. Bingham is also a motivational speaker who espouses unburdening one's life of possessions and fitting everything essential within the confines of a backpack. Proving his case, he lives in hotels, airplanes, and airport terminals with his one life goal being the seventh person to collect ten million frequent-flier miles. If you can get past the Spartan one-bedroom apartment he keeps in Omaha for the 43 days he is forced to be at home, the hatchet man appears to lead a charmed if rather solitary life. Complications, however, ensue on both personal and professional fronts.
Bingham meets a fellow transient traveler named Alex Goran in an airport lounge and assesses that he may have found his soul-mate, so much so that he invites her to come to his estranged sister's wedding in Wisconsin. Meanwhile, Bingham's boss wants to introduce a new strategy proposed by a fresh-faced, post-grad school upstart. New hire Natalie Keener suggests using remote teleconferencing to perform the layoff notifications. Since the new technology is the antithesis of Bingham's one-on-one method, he brings Natalie along on the road to show her how it can't possibly work. In a role that feels custom-tailored to all his strengths, George Clooney plays Bingham with an emotional precision that complements his charismatic persona which pivots between swaggering and self-effacing. On one hand, it's his most definitive movie-star role, and yet Clooney has never revealed as much about himself onscreen.
The always watchable Vera Farmiga (The Departed, Down to the Bone) is sexy and confident as the woman who seems perfect for Bingham, even though their adroit compatibility could not possibly sustain an actual commitment. Their interplay is fun to watch because there is a Cary Grant-Rosalind Russell-level rapport that keeps both on their toes. Anna Kendrick (Twilight) is winning as Natalie even if her character's naiveté feels a bit manufactured at times. Jason Bateman has a field day playing Bingham's smarmy boss, while Amy Morton, Melanie Lynskey, and Danny McBride (Pineapple Express) plays their accustomed types with aplomb as members of Bingham's immediate family. In cameos, J.K. Simmons (Juno) and Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover) sharply play two of the victimized employees, but for the rest, Reitman uses non-actors replaying their recent experiences of getting laid off. As usual with Reitman's films, it boasts an eclectic soundtrack that works really well with the storyline."
Hands down the best film of 2009.
G.V. | Mexico City, Mexico | 02/04/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Hard to understand how a movie that manages to make you feel down in the dumps in many instances can have you laughing out loud the rest of the way. Perhaps because UP IN THE AIR is a movie so very full of surprises and complete knowledge of its main subject (I swear the next time I go through security in an airport I'll be looking for the oriental businessmen and avoid babies at all costs). All throughout the movie I was expecting the obvious conclusion (the firer being fired) and was surprised to get something completely different in return, but even UP IN THE AIR's schocker scene, managed to make so much sense it's hard for me to understand how I didn't see it coming. There's no question in my mind UP IN THE AIR will be the movie future generations will look back in trying to understand this particular era we live in. It is quiet simply a classic."
Entertaining, but something is missing
Rodney Bucket | 02/12/2010
(3 out of 5 stars)
""Up in the Air" had all the ingredients to be a great film: accomplished director and writer, talented actors, a clever and timely topic. And yet something feels amiss in this film, as though it came so close to the mark but just didn't quite make it.
George Clooney is Ryan Bingham, a man whose job entails flying about the country laying off employees because their bosses don't want to do the dirty work themselves. Ryan is a man who is detached from everyone in his life, and is convinced that he doesn't have a need for human connection and interaction. Throughout the film, two things happen: first, he is forced to take on a young trainee (Natalie Keener, played by Anna Kendrick) and show her his business, and second, he meets Alex Goran (Vera Farmiga) a fellow professional traveler with whom he begins a relationship. The film follows these characters as they connect and disconnect and try to make sense of one another.
The characters are compelling, and at times the film is poignant, but overall the whole is not greater than its parts. Perhaps part of the problem was the feeling that two stories were being told: the first act of the film focuses on Natalie and her travels with Ryan, and then Natalie disappears for much of the second act, which centers around Ryan and Alex. Both stories are compelling, but they don't fit together very well, and as a result neither feels like it received proper treatment. This is not to say that films must end well-resolved and clear-cut; this is not the case. Nevertheless the characters in the film should undergo some sort of arc, and I'm forced to question whether the characters here were given enough time to have an arc, or if their stories were cut short but trying to fit too much into one film. The story for the most part is engaging, though it is often predictable and occasionally tedious, and I wonder if it couldn't have been a more nuanced film.
This is not to say "Up in the Air" is a bad film -- it is not by any means. It is fun (albeit depressing) and Clooney and Farmiga are both excellent in their roles. Director Jason Reitman is an accomplished filmmaker, though next to his past efforts, "Juno" and "Thank You For Smoking," "Up in the Air" is his weakest film.
Perhaps my expectations were set too high by all of the acclaim and hype the movie received, but it is my belief that this film had the potential to be far greater than it was. It is certainly worth a watch, but something about it doesn't quite add up."
Pretty good, but has some noticeable flaws
Irfan A. Alvi | Towson, MD USA | 06/09/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This movie is different and interesting enough to be fairly engaging, so I had no problem staying focused from start to finish, and I often couldn't predict what would happen next (which is good). And most broadly, the movie portrays the important lesson that, in our quest for meaningful lives, human relationships may be the best we can do.
But I was bothered by a few things, so I have to drop my rating to 4 stars. Most prominently, the main character Ryan strikes me as implausible: he's handsome, charismatic, can empathize with the people he lays off, and generally seems mature in many ways, yet he inexplicably goes to extremes to avoid close relationships; also, he likes to be pampered while traveling, yet he tolerates spending his relatively few days at home in a somewhat dumpy little place. Similarly, I found it implausible to see how Alex, his female counterpart, was clearly sending him signs of romantic interest, yet in the end turned out to supposedly not be interested at all. Likewise, I found the character of Natalie to be somewhat of a stereotyped cliche. Last but certainly not least, I didn't find that the portrayal of the people being laid off effectively connected me with the distinct pain they must have felt at that moment.
Despite these flaws, this is still a good movie overall, and many people will find it worth watching."
Someone's Gotta Do It
David Baldwin | Philadelphia,PA USA | 05/27/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In a perfect world we wouldn't need undertakers or IRS auditors or for that matter an employment terminator. In the latter occupation Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) does it so well even if he doesn't particularly like it or dislike it for that matter. To maintain some sense of sanity Ryan engages in casual affairs or keeps a log of his frequent flier miles and takes pride in the comps he's accumulated. With the current economic climate things couldn't be better for Ryan's field. Ryan, however, is at a mid-career crisis. The home office in Omaha wants to keep him off the road by doing internet hook-up firings. At home in Wisconsin he's reminded of the disconnect with his own roots and family. At this crossroad Ryan has some serious choices to make. I found "Up in the Air" to be a piece with director Jason Reitman's earlier effort "Thank You For Smoking" in that Reitman challenges the audience to sympathize with a central character with an unsavory occupation. George Clooney is excellent in suggesting the complexities of Ryan. The real find here is Anna Kendrick as Natalie Keener, Ryan's Ivy League protogee. Natalie could have come off as an automaton but Kendrick mines the humanity and humor of the character. Vera Fermiga is alright but essentially her character is the standard girlfriend part. The accolades drawn by the film seem have caused a negative reaction among some viewers. Divorce it from the hype you will find it is an excellent film."