Ryan Bingham is a corporate downsizing expert whose cherished life on the road is threatened just as he is on the cusp of reaching ten million frequent flyer miles and just after he's met the frequent-traveler woman of his dreams. Written by
While at Lambert Field in St Louis, Ryan tries to make an impassioned speech to Natalie about Charles A. Lindbergh's plane "The Spirit of St Louis". Officially, Lindbergh's plane was a Ryan NYP (New York City to Paris), so the two share the same name. As a tribute to Charles Lindbergh, the airport displays a prop Spirit of St. Louis, used in the James Stewart movie of the same name. See more »
The uniforms and newspaper headline show the Waupaca High School team as being nicknamed the Cougars. In reality, the Waupaca High School teams are nicknamed the Comets. See more »
In times of recession, a movie about a guy who fires people for a living is not exactly anyone's idea of entertainment! But, the devilishly charming Ryan Bingham, played by George Clooney just does that, making things oddly comical. Enjoying around 300 days on-board, at lounges and hotels, he laments the 40 days at home between trips.
When he isn't firing, Ryan peddles his 'Baggage free' ideals at motivational lectures and occasionally has a 'good time' with fellow travel buff, Alex Goran (Vera Farmiga) who hit off on a common ground of loyalty card vanity. As Alex calls terms herself as a feminine version of Ryan, the twosome often plan their sojourn across America.
Things change when greenhorn Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick) leads his company to a new policy of firing people via internet. Ryan is grounded and dismayed at the prospect of missing his secret ambition of 10 million frequent flier miles. Adding to his woes, his boss Craig Gregory puts Natalie under Ryan's tutelage to lean the business!
Natalie and Ryan are opposites; while the former hates airports and loves to get back to 'home and family', Ryan loves his unreal life but wants to fire people 'with a personal touch', allowing the story its exploratory flight-path of mutual self discovery of emotional connections, love, family and propriety. While it is easy to portray such themes in gloom, Up in the Air is light hearted, sprinkled liberally with humor while keeping up its pace.
Though, at first, it comes across as a movie on Ryan and his miles, it's not! His conflict is rather within himself, his fear of intimacy, family and commitment. Clooney actually makes you feel for the middle aged and lonely Ryan who fires people but is really not a grown-up within. To their credit, the filmmakers have worked well to create seemingly unreal characters but still leaving enough to imagination and things to relate to!
Natalie and Alex have their issues too. While the Anna Kendrick plays a pretty, uptight and ambitious girl whose nervousness is situations is comic relief. Poor Natalie is eventually dumped over an SMS. Vera Farmiga as Alex adds her own shades of grey; she has a stable family but seeks out some fun. Do our characters get what they want? Typical to Hollywood style, some answers are direct while some are subtle.
To bring out the best from those 'fired', the filmmakers actually cast people who had recently lost jobs! Their brief was to look into the camera and say what it felt like being 'fired'! Portraying multiple locales without actually filming there was intelligent production design. The Airport scenes were crisp and realistic. One of the best scenes is Ryan's slick passage through the security check, portraying a seasoned business traveler.
Coming from the Oscar nominated directed by Jason Rietman of "Juno" fame, Up in the Air, adapted from a novel of the same name by Walter Kim is worth watching!
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