Up In The Air (2009) – Movie Review


Liked this so much the first time, I rented for a second look.

This is a “small” well put together movie with some very good dialogue that gently explores some of our personal and societal traits.  It’s very much worth seeing.

Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) has his shit together.  And that makes him happy.  Unlike most of us, his life is in perfect order.  He loves his job.   Everything he does is meticulous and completely organized.   His commitments to others are completely under control.  All this is good until life throws him a couple of curve balls.

Ryan’s job is to fire people.  He’s hired by companies who are doing large layoffs, to fly in for a few days and fire people.  To paraphrase Ryan’s own words, “I do what companies don’t have the balls to do themselves.”  Why anyone would want a job like this and more to the point be happy with it, is the first story line in the movie.

Ryan’s second affliction is his goal to earn enough “rewards” points to join a most exclusive group of people.  The points Ryan is after are airline loyalty program rewards points.  Whether earned directly by flying, using certain rental car companies, staying at certain hotels, etc., Ryan’s goal is to accumulate as many as he can.   And he’s almost there.  He’s almost reached the culmination of his life’s experiences up to this point in time.

Ryan’s third joy in life is his part-time profession as a motivational speaker.  Certainly he’s  not a big time motivational speaker.  Rather he’s someone who might have an engagement or two a month in front of small groups of people.  “What’s In Your Backpack?”  His motivational subject tells people not to carry any excess baggage with them.  Ryan lives that daily, whether it involves packing just enough in his suitcase to make it through his next group of firings or avoiding all the emotional baggage most of us encounter every day.

As you might guess, it’s that emotional stuff that starts to creep into Ryan’s luggage that throws him the curve balls.  As most good movies do, by the end it leads us in directions we didn’t really expect to go. 

On the numb butt scale, 1.5 numb butts.  The movie will not only keep your butt comfortable in the chair, but it will also provoke some thought when it’s over.


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