Arts and Entertainment

A comedy that lifts audiences up into the air

By Alex Frail
Published: December 2009

Up in the Air kicks off with a laid back rendition of the song “This Land is Your Land a couple of pristinely timed f-bombs, and Ryan Bingham, played by the dapper George Clooney, as he helps a corporate company downsize staff count.

This new comedy from Jason Reitman, writer of the equally hilarious tongue-in-cheek satire Thank You For Smoking, stands out as a unique blend of comedy and drama. The movie is concocted of a miraculous recipe, balancing dramatic moments that crush you and the humorous ones that make you cackle.

The story, generally bland in summary, follows Bingham as he racks up frequent flier miles en route to downsize the company for corporate. Along the way, he meets Alex Goran, played by Vera Farminga his female counterpart with whom he shares steamy hook-ups. Bingham, an anti-family man, enjoys his nomadic life all in an effort to become the seventh man to fly ten million miles.

Bingham’s career hits a speed bump when Natalie Keener, an ambitious newcomer, develops an electronic method of firing workers, ending the need for Bingham’s travel. Bingham struggles through the ensuing events, rethinking his lifestyle and future options.

Clooney’s casual narration sets the mood for the excellent comedy. The actor proves he has terrific comedic skills as well as moving dramatic techniques up his sleeve.

The funnier scenes in Up in the Air, like when Bingham proves to Natalie that firing people electronically isn’t as simple as it seems, rarely fail to make you chuckle, and never cease to make you smile.

The serious moments, such as when Natalie first fires a veteran over the computer, leave a tense air in the theatre. It’s not the yelling or crying in these moments that hits you; it’s the long, blaring silences after. That’s what I consider to be a good drama.

In an age when Judd Apatow, his team of no-names, and immature jokes, dominates comedies Up in the Air is just what everyone needs.

Based on the 2001 novel by Walter Kirn, Up in the Air is one of the first comedies in a while with solid integrity and wit.

Bestowed with an amazing script, Reitman was also blessed a cast of professionals.

Clooney and Farmiga are both in their prime here, while Anna Kendrick and Jason Bateman add to the fun. Danny McBride, playing the numskull as usual, lightens the mood when he’s onscreen.

Additionally, Air contains reliable themes like isolation and unlikely love. The messages stick with you long after the credits roll, and Clooney’s parting words leave a confused sense of sorrow in your mouth.

The film’s message is ideal for today’s age. With a material world evaporating into a digital one, we catch a glimpse at the struggle of millions who are told they are simply no longer needed.

Up in the Air is a good old-fashioned comedy with subtle innuendos, moving silences, some physical humor, and memorable messages.

It stands as one of the year’s best films without breaking a sweat. It makes you laugh, it makes you cry (almost), but most importantly, it just makes you feel what the characters are going through.

In one scene, Bingham says, “Everyone needs a co-pilot. For 109 minutes, you feel like his.

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