Up In the Air (2009) – Jason Reitman (Friday’s Finest)

Five films have already featured here starring George Clooney and today’s Up in the Air will be the sixth. That surprised me when I looked that up since I wouldn’t have classed myself a George Clooney fan, but he obviously does something right. So, I guess I’m a fan. I really enjoyed this unassuming drama-comedy because it’s very nuanced and doesn’t belittle its audience.

Up in the Air seems to be a showcase for Clooney – ‘ok strut your stuff George with little to work on and lets see what you can churn out‘. In similar vein to how Tom Hardy was set up for Locke recently reviewed here at ‘Friday’s Finest’. In the end they both deliver powerhouse performances and demonstrate why they are such engaging performers and go-to men for the heavy parts. The Descendants is another movie you could argue Clooney was just thrown in there.

IMDB Storyline:

Ryan Bingham is a corporate downsizing expert whose cherished life on the road is threatened just as he is on the cusp of reaching ten million frequent flyer miles, and just after he’s met the frequent-traveller woman of his dreams.

I presumed that I wouldn’t engage with Up in the Air based on its premise. What would be so interesting about seeing a brash, new-age sophisticated man (SNAG of sorts) firing people from their jobs? Especially Clooney of all people. But it somehow turns everything on its head. You have to see the clip below which features ‘real’ people who have been shown the door from their jobs and concludes with the magnificent J.K. Simmons (Whiplash and La La Land) giving them his piece.

What Up in the Air demonstrates is that despite how you might conceive the intention and jobs of these professionals who fire people, that seeing what life (and suffering) from their perspectives is just as compelling as seeing anyone else’s. In the end, as individuals we all just get-by with what tools we have in the kit and make-do. That’s it.

This simple, but polemical drama-comedy is just breezy to watch. You don’t have to think too much about it, rather just let it woosh past. Having said that; there is a kicker-twist in the finale which makes you think about it some more.

IMDB Trivia:

  • A large number of the people we see fired in the film are not actors, but people who were recently laid off… When people showed up, they were instructed to treat the camera like the person who fired them and respond as they did or use the opportunity to say what they wished they had. 
  • When Bob shows Ryan a photo of his two children, it is a photo of J.K. Simmons’s real children.
  • Vera Farmiga used a body double for her nude scene. In an interview she stated she has no problem being naked in a film, but she had recently given birth and “The breast milk running down would have been inappropriate.”
  • George Clooney’s wardrobe for the entire movie actually fits in one carry-on suitcase.

1. Up in the Air (2009 film) – Wikipedia
2. Up in the Air – IMDB

“The more I live, the more I learn. The more I learn, the more I realize, the less I know.”- Michel Legrand

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Posted in Movies and TV
8 comments on “Up In the Air (2009) – Jason Reitman (Friday’s Finest)
  1. Hi Matt, this George Clooney movie looks good. But 2009! What has he been up to lately? I haven’t got a clue! Is he still working? Hope you have a great weekend (with your children?). Sharon

    • I’d think you like the movie Sharon. If you look up George Clooney on the IMDB web site it will show you a list of his movies and what he is currently working on. He also directs movies. He is currently in production on ‘Wolves’. ‘David Cotton’ came out last year and ‘Augustine’ in 2020. I haven’t seen them.
      Thanks for your well wishes for the weekend. You too, have a good one

  2. Thanks Matt, I’ll check it all out. Was just wondering what had happened to him.

  3. This is a great film. And here’s a bit a trivia: the very brief scene where George’s character tries to visit Vera’s character at her home was filmed in front of the house of friends in the historic Lafayette Square neighborhood in St. Louis, Missouri, where I lived at the time. The film crew spent several days setting up and filming, including replacing the carpet runner going up the stairs, which was barely noticeable in the final film. It’s crazy how much time, effort and money directors and film crews will spend on just one short scene!

    • Hi Jeff, I’m sorry I wasn’t more prompt responding to your post. The trivia detail about that house, and the lengths the production team went to is fascinating. Inside information like yours contributes a lot to the post and I’m grateful for that. So, thank you!

  4. I liked the plot twist where he is thrown aside. I thought it gentle, smooth, and an easy watch.

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