Saturday, March 26, 2011

Up in the Air

A Panther Joe Downsizing

I wasn't too sure what to expect when watching Up in the Air. Heck, I didn't even know what it was about, but some force of nature propelled it to the top of my queue. Now I can honestly say that this deserves to be among the best performances I've seen from George Clooney, bunched somewhere with Burn After Reading, Ocean's Eleven, and O Brother, Where Art Thou?.
Up in the Air (2009)
Director: Jason Reitman
Starring: George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, and Anna Kendrick

What I took away from this movie was that Ryan (Clooney) has successfully avoided all major human relationships by driving at a job that keeps him shuffling from city to city, never in one place for several days in a row. Then, in somewhat of a reawakening, Ryan sees what he has potentially been missing through encounters with his estranged siblings, a casual rendezvous with another fellow traveler (Farmiga), and taking a young, up and coming business woman and showing her the ropes of their company, whose job it is to take in outsourced announcements of employment terminations.

I really think a character in the movie described it better as Ryan having to fire people on behalf of their existing bosses being too cowardly.
The characters were well balanced and cast with bravery. I usually think of Clooney as more of a serious, action driven actor, but in this flick he was able to let go, crack some jokes, and convince us that his life was tailor made to enjoy his own seclusion and even give motivational speeches about cutting ties with our own relationships. Danny McBride (Eastbound and Down) played Ryan's future brother-in-law in a more serious role, which is surprising considering the raunchy and sometimes corny humor he usually does for a living.

The cameos in this movie are plentiful, but I won't spoil them outright. Come to think of it, are they even cameos if their names flash during the opening credits? A handful of big name actors appear in this movie with very limited air time and lines of dialogue. The payoff toward a more enjoyable scene was decent enough, but I am sure there are tons of unknown actors out there that would kill for a part in these types of movies.
One of the forces in Ryan's life was Natalie Keener (Kendrick), an inexperienced, fresh from Cornell whiz kid who helped design the program that would alter Ryan's work/lifestyle dramatically. While Kendrick is impossibly cute, the fact that she was nominated for Best Supporting Actress last year for this role is a joke. While she didn't outright embarrass herself, Kendrick never left her uptight comfort zone. There was one particular scene in an airport where she starts to break down and cry that was so forced, awkward, and screeched I had to rewind and make sure I wasn't imagining the awfulness in front of me.

Other peripheral characters hardly take away from the charm and succinctness of a movie that is pretty much a tour-de-force of George Clooney and his acting prowess. The dialogue is exceptionally sharp and ended up being my favorite part of the movie. I'd give this an open recommendation to anyone, but please note that the tone occasionally dips into darkness while convincing us we should sympathize with a wealthy main character in light of several other characters losing their careers. 7/10 stars

1 comment:

The Real Alan Trehern said...

This was actually filmed in the St. Louis Airport. Represent!