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Movie Review: Up in the Air (2009) January 23, 2010

Posted by pacejmiller in Movie Reviews.
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When I first heard about George Clooney’s new film Up in the Air, I thought it was the sequel to the 1994 basketball comedy The Air Up There starring Kevin Bacon.

Well, not as such.

The story revolves around Ryan Bingham (George Clooney), a man with a very unique job which I won’t divulge, but I will say it does require him to be ‘up in the air’ a lot.  Despite having to use his mouth for a living, Bingham shies away from human connection.  Enter Alex (Vera Farmiga) and Natalie (Anna Kendrick), two women who will turn his life upside down and make him question his life choices.

Up in the Air is the real deal – interesting premise, terrific script, great performances; warm, funny and very human – just about everything you could ask for in an A-grade drama comedy.  It’s not the type of film that will make you go ‘wow’, blow your mind or change your life, but it’s a film voters of awards will love (and from the awards it has already received, evidently so).

Up in the Air is co-written and directed by Jason Reitman, director of Juno and Thank You For Smoking.  If you have seen one or both of those films, then you’ll have an idea of the style and feel Reitman injects into Up in the Air.  It is a film dealing with serious issues and tragic situations, but somehow there are plenty of great laughs – certainly more than I expected. Full credit goes to Reitman and I have a feeling an Oscar nomination is coming his way shortly.

As for the performances – I’ve never been a huge fan of George Clooney because of that smug, dickish vibe he constantly gives off, but I have to admit it works perfectly here.  He is charming and funny and he makes you believe Ryan Bingham is real person.  Vera Farmiga, on the other hand, I am a big fan of, so I have nothing but praises for her subtle, believable performance.  And there’s the always-welcome Jason Bateman, who offers his usual stellar presence.

But it is the tiny chipmunk girl from the Twilight Saga, Anna Kendrick (I think she plays the annoying friend Jessica), that absolutely steals the show as the young hotshot.  I never knew she could act.  I think she’ll get a nomination as well and I wouldn’t be too surprised if she won.

If there is a complaint about Up in the Air, it’s that the film is a little flat.  Yes, there are ups and downs and it can get quite emotional, but there’s not much heart-thumping excitement. At 109 minutes, it’s definitely not a movie children would be able to sit through without getting restless.

Nevertheless, on the whole, Up in the Air is a quality movie that ticks most of the right boxes.  It’s unlikely to be one of those memorable films you’ll remember years down the track, but for now, at least, Up in the Air will come to mind when I think about the top films of the year.

4 out of 5 stars

[PS: Felt good to get that one out.  It’s been a while since I reviewed a movie!]

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