Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Up in the Air (Review)

     I hate watching modern romance films.  They are all the same.  People who shouldn't be together and will make each other miserable if they try to spend the rest of their lives together spend the entire movie realizing that fact, until, in the end, there is a romantic moment, which somehow makes up for everything else that has transpired, and the couple that shouldn't be has a long, romantic kiss, and the movie ends.  The really sad fact is that some of these movies are actually pretty good, up until the third act, where it all falls apart because the doomed couple has to get together in the end.  "Up in the Air" looked like it might be different, and it was, but not enough.

     "Up in the Air" stars George Clooney as Ryan Bingham, a man who works for a company that sends him around the country to fire people during large lay offs or whatever and help counsel them with their severance packages, finding a new job, ect...  He has spent his life doing this, he is very good at it, he spends more than three hundred days a year on the road, has little connection to friend or family, and is quite happy and successful.  In his off time, he does speaking engagements, most of the time to promote his book on how movement is life and relationships only weigh you down.  Clooney's character meets Alex Goran, played by Vera Farmiga, a business woman who also spends a lot of time on the road and they begin a physical relationship which they consummate whenever their busy itineraries happen to bring them near one another.  Then we get the younger woman, Natalie Keener, played by Anna Kendrick.  Kendrick's character is a recent college graduate who is there to innovate the way Clooney's character does his job.  She proposes ending the traveling and wants to start firing people via video phone.  Before this plan is implemented, she spends some time traveling with Clooney's character to see what it is he actually does.

     The first two acts of "Up in the Air" are very good.  You've got some really good writing and some great actors.  It was very enjoyable and gave me hope that this movie might not be your typical romance film, and it wasn't.  It was far worse.  (Sorry, but I'm going to give away the end here.)
Clooney's character is happy and successful.  In the second act, all the women in his life, his sisters, his lover, and his co worker, convince him that, without relationships, he is actually miserable, and he buys into it.  So, in the modern romance film, he has to fall for one of them (not his sisters) and they must kiss.  Well, turns out that his lover is married with children and the co-worker is way too young and leaves the job after her breakup.  On top of that, the company that Clooney's character works for finally realizes that firing someone over video phone using a script and an untrained, poorly paid, drone, is a terrible idea, so they put him back on the road, where he is now completely miserable.  The end.  Roll credits.  If this had been a modern romance film, I would have hated it, but at least there would have been some kind of pay off in the end.  Instead, I'm left wondering why.  Why did I just spent a little over an hour and a half of my life watching a movie about a man who starts out happy and turns out miserable.  There was no reason to make or watch this movie. 

     I'm sorry if this is turning into more of a rant and less of a review, but at the end of this movie, I was angry.  Did I really just blow of one my free passes and pay eight dollars for popcorn and a drink so I could watch a happy and successful man slowly realize that his life is meaningless and he is, in fact, miserable and now powerless to change it?  Really!?  I don't demand an Disney-esque ending, but come on, give me a reason to watch.


  1. I detailed in my review of this all the reasons that I don't like it. Glad to see I'm not alone on not liking this though. And to think this is turning into a frontrunner this awards season.

  2. I think I could have lived with the film, not say that it's brilliant or Oscar worthy, but been okay with it, if it had had a better ending or some reason for being. As it is, I just don't understand why you would make that film. A happy man becomes miserable and is now trapped in his misery. Oh boy, I'm glad I watched that! Maybe that's the first two acts of a story, and you need to resolve it now. Maybe that's really why I felt so let down when the film ended; the story wasn't over! What does he do with the rest of his life. As is, he's miserable for the rest of is life. Can't Clooney get some small bit of redemption?