Up in the Air (2009)

Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) is a business man that spends the vast amount of his time in the air, flying some 360,000 miles a year and 322 days away from home for a company that specializes in helping companies to downsize, or in other words, he’s sent out to fire the staff.

He is at his happiest when he is in his natural habitat “All the things you probably hate about travelling -the recycled air, the artificial lighting, the digital juice dispensers, the cheap sushi- are warm reminders that I’m home“ as he goes through the wonders and joys of always being first to be served, no queuing and always welcomed with service, due to the sheer amount of points he has accumulated through the various loyalty programs.

Anyone that has spent time in the air on a regular basis will feel right at home at the observations made by Clooney as he does the voice over at the front setup part of the movie.   In fact if you truly are a air warrior then you will cringe at just how close to home it hits.

Ryan Bingham: Never get behind people traveling with infants. I’ve never seen a stroller collapse in less than 20 minutes. Old people are worse. Their bodies are littered with hidden metal and they never seem to appreciate how little time they have left. Bingo, Asians. They pack light, travel efficiently, and they have a thing for slip on shoes. Gotta love ‘em.
Natalie Keener: That’s racist.
Ryan Bingham: I’m like my mother, I stereotype. It’s faster.

While on the road, Ryan meets up with his female counterpart, Alex Goran (Vera Farmiga) who they hit it off in a business lounge at some airport and get equally turned on when they show and compare all their loyalty cards.   This begins a series of sexual encounters when they cross airports as they fly all over the country.   Interesting wee aside, Vera Farmiga had just given birth, and opted to have a body double for the few nude scenes in various hotel rooms. 


Ryan’s company decides that they spend way too much money on travel and wish to trial fire-by-video over the Internet.  Ryan isn’t terribly happy with this, and reluctantly takes on the road with him the mastermind of this new idea, Natalie (Anna Kendrick).   Naturally Natalie is no road warrior and has a real life, with a real boyfriend, and is the complete polar to Ryan.

And there in where we have the setup for the rest of the story, as Ryan is made to see what his life is really all about.  He is adamant he never wants to get married and is happy keeping it simple.  Natalie begins to grind him down, making him question his relationship with Alex and his sisters who he really can’t tolerate.

There is a wonderful hilarious part of the movie where Alex, Natalie and Ryan all gate crash a tech conference that is happening at the same hotel they find themselves at.  Again, another cringe worthy scene for those of us that are all too familiar with the pattern here and how these things happen when on the road.

Outside of the familiar references for those of us that have lived that same life style, the story is a bit worn and while it does have an interesting wee twist, it doesn’t go off the beaten track too much, with a huge amount of sentimentality smeared in there to pull at the heart strings.

Clooney does a very good job convincing you of his lonely life on the road.  Though let us be frank, if you look like Clooney, you are not going to be wanting for female company upon an evening in a remote location.

Thoroughly enjoyable movie and one I enjoy dipping back into every so often to get a kick out of the real world travel monologue. 


Viewing Date
Tuesday, 22nd September 2015


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Author: Alan Williamson

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