Up in the Air (2009)   4/54/54/54/54/5

George Clooney as Ryan Bingham in Up in the Air (2009)

Come Fly Air Clooney

Damn you George Clooney, there you stand looking like a male model in your suit, the smile, the glint in your eye and an aura of confidence, without doing anything you have ruined life for your average Joe as we hear "Well he's no George Clooney". Having said that it is that charm, that look, that, and I hate to say it, sex appeal which helps make "Up in the Air" such a good movie, well that and a very good story. But what is nice about "Up in the Air" is that it can appeal to people in different ways and I am not just banging on about George Clooney, it is a clever movie with an underlying message which some people take one way others another.

For many Ryan Belingham (George Clooney - Burn After Reading) has a strange life, his job is to go around firing people for companies who can't do it themselves and for him he is happiest when flying from state to state and staying in hotels. So when he is called back to head office in Omaha he is less than happy when he is told that the job is changing and there will be no more travelling but instead he will be firing people via web chats. Not only that whilst not interested in marriage, family or children he has met the sexy Alex (Vera Farmiga), another frequent flyer and being grounded will bring their hotel liaisons to an end.

Vera Farmiga as Alex Goran in Up in the Air (2009)

Before I really start I am going to say it is hard to do "Up in the Air" justice in a review because part of what makes it so entertaining is that it has an energy about it, almost a charm all of its own which is hard to put into words but I will try. Now the thing is that as "Up in the Air" starts we enter the sort of strange world of Ryan Bingham who works for a company who are basically hired to fire people. We also discover that for Ryan home is up in the air, flying from one state to another where ever he is sent to deliver the message to the unlucky few who are being let go. In fact Ryan is so at home in the air that he detests going back home to Omaha and notches up so many frequent flyer miles he is on his way to reaching his goal of becoming one of a select few to reach 10,000,000 points.

So we have this set up which also includes him meeting almost his equal in Alex an attractive frequent flyer who finds his collection of credit cards, loyalty cards a turn on. But then we get the first part of the story that of change as the company Ryan works for plans to stop sending people out to fire others but thanks to new employee Natalie do it via a web chat instead. Sounds cruel and it does feel that way too especially as Ryan will not only fail to reach his frequent flyer target but also be stuck in Omaha. But it is also clever because Ryan takes Natalie out on the road with him, shadowing him to see how he does his job and it soon becomes very clear that Ryan whilst firing people also points out the positives, the opportunities which are available to live their dream. It makes you think of him very differently as rather than a heartless man for hire he is really quite caring or at least good at coming across that way.

Now this element of change develops because we have Ryan as a confirmed bachelor with no ties, he even does the occasional speaking gig about living life with no baggage or ties. But as his way of life comes under threat so does his thinking when it comes especially as he connects with Alex in a way he has never done before. We watch him almost embrace the possible change, the possibility of settling down and we also see him reconnect with his sisters having not been there for them for as long as they can remember.

Now I will stop there because this is a movie which continues to develop as we get to see what happens to Ryan and Alex as well as Natalie. Plus we also get to hear how those he fired dealt with the change, what kept them going when their way of life suddenly changed. And that leads me to the fact that "Up in the Air" speaks to people in different ways, some see it being about the importance of family others about life choices and some the positives of being single with no baggage. It doesn't so much make you think but it has this deeper level which makes it more than just a fun romantic drama.

But "Up in the Air" is fun and much of that is down to the charisma of George Clooney as Ryan Bingham a man whose charm and ability to flirt some may say is quite similar to Clooney himself. It is not just the Clooney charm which makes it work as Vera Farmiga is his sexy equal as Alex and the flirtations which go on between Ryan and Alex are great especially when it comes to sexual innuendo. Throw in Anna Kendrick as the novice Natalie as well as Jason Bateman in a supporting role and we have a movie which is visually appealing but also more.

What this all boils down to is that "Up in the Air" is a very good movie, a fun romantic comedy but one with depth which makes it work at various different levels. Of course it is the charisma of George Clooney which does make it so good but he is matched by an equally charming Vera Farmiga.


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