Posted by: greercn | January 23, 2010

Up In The Air

When the DVD/BluRay boxed set of this is released, I have a suggestion for the manufacturers. It should be presented with a rope, suitable for knotting over the nearest rafter. Then, you can kill yourself as soon as you’ve seen it, skipping the need to be deeply depressed for days and days.

It’s not just that I hated it. The whole cinema hated it. The front three rows at the Stratford Picture House took to sending up whatever the characters were saying on the screen, as if their life forces wished to retain some will to live.

Briefly, Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) is a corporate firer, flying from place to place laying people off. Home, for Ryan, is the inside of an airplane and every bit of his careful corporate preparation (the right suitcase, the perfect credit and charge cards and the best hotels) goes to support his flying into desperate companies and firing people, on behalf of craven bosses who won’t do their own dirty work.

This is every bit as life-sapping as it sounds. There are funny lines and strong women. Vera Farmiga is a match for Ryan as Alex, a corporate hard-nosed executive who is every bit as job-obsessed as our man. Anna Kendrick plays a wannabe Ryan, trying to learn the ropes (see how the DVD  “tie in” works on many levels?) and suggesting new tricks of the trade.

There are some lovely and very funny scenes. Ryan’s sister gets married in Wisconsin and the set of family relationships make Ryan confront the existential emptiness of his life. Our flawed hero tries to be a helpful brother and comes to rethink his life while he is in the middle of giving a motivational speech, titled “What’s in the backpack of your life”?

But for me, the film fails on too many levels. The comedy chops itself up by trying to say something dramatic and meaningful about frequent flying and the effects on relationships. It attempts to say something about corporate downsizing, but – and I have recently been made redundant from my job – there is no lighter side or new philosophical lesson here. It’s grim out there, in the USA and in Europe.

I should have known better. Jason Reitman is responsible for “Juno” and I hated that. Reitman has talent and ideas. Unfortunately, they just fail to have any positive impact on my life and I do not share any part of his vision. 

As we left the cinema, I heard one young woman say to another “Why do you always take me to bad movies”? Everyone looked unhappy as they left. Being as into movies as I am, I have to watch all the credits, right through to the end. Usually, people who come to the movies with me tolerate this, just for me. On this occasion, my beautiful daughter said “I actually can’t be here with any more of this movie so I’ll meet you outside”.

If it weren’t for the music credits coming right at the end, I’d have fled too. I won’t be buying the DVD.

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