Up in the Air (Jason Reitman, 2009): USA

Reviewed by Kathleen Amboy.  Viewed at the Riviera Theater in Santa Barbara.

Jason Reitman has directed his third feature film titled Up in the AirIt stars George Clooney as Ryan Bingham, who’s a congenial corporate downsizing expert.  Bingham loves what he does, which is to travel all over the country and fire employees.  His only ambition in life is to reach the ten million mark on his frequent flyer plan.

Bingham is a travel junkie, who is unattached, without  home or family, but  is also a motivational speaker.  His message is  to “travel light, lose excess baggage, and eliminate the burdens” in one’s life.  He actually believes his own BS until he falls hard over a one-night stand with Alex Goran (Vera Farmiga) – his female counterpart.

Along comes Natalie (Anna Kendrick) a young upstart, who has devised a way to streamline Bingham’s job – fire people through video conferencing and eliminate the travel expense, thus leaving Bingham in jeopardy of losing his job.

Although the trailers for this film were a bit of an overkill – meaning every witty line was put into the trailer, so as you’re watching the film, the element of surprise in the dialogue is zip.  Having zero interest in seeing the film, surprisingly it was  much better than I anticipated. 

Despite the cheesy humor –  the flight attendant asks Bingham “do you want the cancer?” several times while he’s daydreaming, when he snaps out of it, she’s holding a soda can and asking “do you want the can sir?”   It is quirky, well-acted, humorous at times and has a little twist at the end. 

No surprise, as Ryan Bingham, Clooney is basically playing himself – which is a charming, but devout bachelor.  He’s set in his ways, yet in the end has his entire world turned upside down.

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