Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

THE SKY'S NOT THE LIMIT HERE; George Clooney, Jason Reitman and Co. Soar in Grown-Up Comedy-Romance-Satire

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

THE SKY'S NOT THE LIMIT HERE; George Clooney, Jason Reitman and Co. Soar in Grown-Up Comedy-Romance-Satire

Article excerpt

Byline: MATT SOERGEL

"Up in the Air" is as slick and good-looking as George Clooney's character, a self-assured vulture of the corporate world who travels purposefully around the country without ever craving human contact beyond, perhaps, someone to roll in the sheets with.

But don't assume that the movie is all surfaces: It's wise, funny, touching and thoroughly grown-up.

Make this three-for-three for director Jason Reitman, who was also behind "Juno" and "Thank You for Smoking." His "Up in the Air" is a comedy that's willing to be sad, a romance that's OK with ambiguity and a timely corporate satire with far more than slash-and-burn mockery on its mind.

Clooney plays his character, Ryan Bingham, better than anyone could. He's a terminator: That is, he flies around the country firing people for employers without the stomach for it.

He's good at his job and wants to do it as well as he can, offering encouragement in that deep purr of his to people whose lives have suddenly been shattered.

(In a brilliant move, Reitman hired the real-life laid-off to play most of those who get the ax from Ryan, encouraging them to improvise their lines as they go through their firing again. The results are heartbreaking.)

Ryan doesn't necessarily love his job, but he loves the lifestyle it gives him. His is a life spent on the road, on a quest to get 10 million frequent-flier miles and as many elite membership cards as possible, the better to breeze through lines at airports, car-rental joints and hotels.

He's also a motivational speaker who uses a backpack as a metaphor for life - that is, you need to get rid of anything that doesn't fit inside that backpack.

You know he's in for a comeuppance, for some growing up. But what's satisfying about "Up in the Air" is how gracefully it treats his transformation, rooting it in the little details and emotional interchanges of real life.

Those changes start as two women - characters who were missing in the Walter Kirn novel on which this is based - enter Ryan's life.

One is Alex (Vera Farmiga), a sexy middle-aged corporate traveler who, like Ryan, gets hot and bothered by elite membership cards. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.