Friday, December 25, 2009

Up in the Air (Rhoades)

“Up in the Air” Is Down-to-Earth Funny
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

Bet I travel more than you do. The way I afford to live in Key West is by flying out several times a month to service my consulting clients. I spend a lot of time in airports. And clock up a lot of bonus miles.

But nothing like George Clooney’s character in “Up in the Air,” the new dramedy that’s currently playing at the Tropic Cinema.

Here Clooney is a man who travels around the country to terminate corporate employees – a hatchet man from the home office. This travel has put him within reach of ten million frequent flyer miles just when his company decides to ground him. Uh-oh, can he handle a stationary existence?

Anna Kendrick co-stars as the corporate whiz kid who threatens his happy-go-lucky lifestyle of living out of a suitcase. So he agrees to take her on one of his cross-country jaunts to show her just how important his job is. And how efficiently he handles it.

To him, downsizing is an art, not a science. And travel is a way of life.

Yes, they both learn something from their journey. And perhaps you will too.

Written and directed by Jason Reitman (the satiric genius who gave us “Thank You For Smoking” and “Juno”), this is only his third film. He has a way with protagonists who not only think they’re better than everybody else, but perhaps are. Even so, they end up discovering that karma has its comeuppances.

Reitman is the son of Ivan Reitman, the producer-director who gave us such classic comedies as “Ghostbusters,” “Stripes,” “Animal House,” and more recently “My Super Ex-Girlfriend”). His son is obviously a chip off the old funnybone (if we forgive “My Super Ex-Girlfriend.”)

The younger Reitman’s “Up in the Air” has already been cited as the year’s Best Film by the National Board of Review. George Clooney was named Best Actor and co-star Anna Kendrick was picked as Best Actress. And the film’s been nominated for a ton of Golden Globe awards.

“In one sense, it’s a movie about a man who fires people for a living,” says Reitman. “In another sense, it’s a movie about a man who collects air miles excessively. In another sense, it’s about a man who meets a woman who’s so similar to him that even though they both believe in the idea of living solo, they begin to fall in love.”

“Up in the Air” is based on a book by Walter Kirn. He got the idea from talking with a fellow passenger on a long airline flight.

“I’m a guy that you don’t want to sit next to on an airplane because I want to know your story and I want to tell you mine,” says Kirn. “I asked him where he’s from … and he said, ‘I’m from right here.’ I said, ‘What do you mean by that?’ He said, ‘Well, I used to have an apartment in Atlanta but I never used it and it just collected dust. Then I got a storage locker. I stay in hotels and I’m on the road three hundred days a year. So this is where I’m from and this is my family.’ He pointed to a flight attendant and he said, ‘I know her. I know her name. I know her kids names.’ I thought, ‘This is a new creature.’ I felt like an ornithologist discovering a new bird and when you’re a novelist and you discover a new creature and you discover a sort of new environment in which this creature is possible you have to write the book.”

And make a movie.

I wonder if I’ll see it again in-flight?
[from Solares Hill]

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