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Movie Review

Up in the Air also known as “Mileage, My Life,” “Tra le nuvole,” “V zraku”

MPAA Rating: R for language and some sexual content.

Reviewed by: Katie Thomas

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults Teens
Comedy Romance Drama Adaptation
1 hr. 49 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
December 4, 2009 (select—4 theaters)
December 23, 2009 (wide—1,800+ theaters)
DVD: March 9, 2010
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Fornication in the Bible

Should I save sex for marriage? Answer

What are the consequences of sexual immorality? Answer

Drunkenness in the Bible

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Featuring: George Clooney (as Ryan Bingham), Vera Farmiga (Alex Goran), Jason Bateman (Craig Gregory), Anna Kendrick (Natalie Keener), Amy Morton, Melanie Lynskey, J.K. Simmons, Sam Elliott, Danny McBride, Zach Galifianakis, Chris Lowell, Steve Eastin, Young MC, Cut Chemist, Adrienne Lamping, Meagan Flynn, Dustin Miles, Tamara Tungate, Laura Ackermann, Meghan Maguire, Courtney Kling, Matt O'Toole, Erin McGrane, Cari Mohr, Adhir Kalyan, Jeff Witzke, Dave Engfer, Paul Goetz, Jennifer Nitzband, Kevin Pila
Director: Jason Reitman
Juno,” “Thank You for Smoking
Producer: Ivan Reitman, Jason Reitman, Cold Spring Pictures, DW Studios, The Montecito Picture Company, Paramount Pictures, Right of Way Films, Ali Bell, Michael Beugg, Jason Blumenfeld, Jeffrey Clifford, Daniel Dubiecki, Helen Estabrook, Ted Griffin, Joe Medjuck, Tom Pollock
Distributor: Paramount Pictures

“The story of a man ready to make a connection”

based on the Walter Kirn novel

At last, a film with more pros than cons and an ending you don’t quite see coming. “Up in the Air” is not only the single best film I’ve seen all year, but all 6 Golden Globe nominations are well deserved, as well any Oscar buzz circulating the film.

Immediately we are introduced to Ryan Bingham (George Clooney), a man makes a living flying the country to fire people for different companies. He is completely comfortable with his flight-to-flight lifestyle until Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick) a recent college grad steps into the picture, creating a way of terminating employees via Webcam as a way of saving the company money, and ultimately eliminating the need for travel. Afraid to disrupt his technique and way of living, Ryan tries to convince his boss, Craig (Jason Bateman) not to move in the proposed direction. Craig decides it would be best for Ryan to show Natalie the ropes of firing someone first-hand and sends the two across the country on several jobs. The take off is rough, and they each discover between connections that the life they had planned may be taking them somewhere they never wanted to go.

There is far too much to the film to discuss, even when it is done with such simplicity. The story line is easy to follow, and keeps you interested the whole way through. No lagging, to waiting for it to just end, and it’s not too fast to keep up. The genius writers Jason Reitman (Director) and Sheldon Turner are to thank here. They gave the actors an incredible script to work with, allowing them each to give impeccable performances individually and as an ensemble. Each character was given a great moment where we see clearly into their hearts, bringing the entire film to an understandable and sometimes unsettling reality of where we are as people and as a society.

Of course, there are the morality issues one can only expect from the modern film industry. Ryan begins a “casual” relationship with, Alex (Vera Farmiga) a woman he meets at a hotel. They sleep together a few times, with her entire backside and most of her breasts exposed. They also sex message and have increasingly suggestive conversations. There are a few scenes that include alcohol, one where Natalie gets very drunk and sleeps with him (nothing is shown between the two, only a short conversation is had regarding whether Natalie “woke him up or slipped out”).

Fornication in the Bible

Should I save sex for marriage? Answer

Ryan and Natalie break into his old school just to look around and, while the act is innocent and fun enough, it is still breaking the law.

Swearing is an issue considering there are about 20 scattered uses of the f-word, seven of the s-word, and 6 off the a-word, with only a couple used of the Lord’s name in vain. The terms “p***y”, “p***k”, and “screw” are used as well.

As a whole, I enjoyed the story, the characters, and the journey I took with them. However, keep in mind my cautions of this film’s unbiblical worldview, nudity, a few crude conversations, and some offensive language.

Violence: Minor / Profanity: Extreme / Sex/Nudity: Heavy

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive—Artistically speaking, I loved this movie. Just recently I have “discovered” George Clooney and now enjoy most any film he’s in. The character he portrayed, Ryan Bingham, is lonely and directionless. His emptiness is most apparent by the sparsely furnished apartment he hates going to when he is not in the “air,” which seems to be most of the time. I think the director did a good job of not trying to cover up his shallowness, but let the viewer see it. Yes, there are offensive moments, so be on the lookout, but at least they were well spaced and not a constant barrage of f-bombs. My major complaint was the use of the f-word in a church. Hopefully this film will garner a Golden Globe or two.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Reba, age 40+ (USA)
Positive—This movie is a unique morality play whereby a late middle aged man who has lived a life that’s related to “Atlas Shrugged” or “do what tho wilt”, finds himself alone and finally trapped on the other side looking back and wondering about his choice to spend his adult life living for selfish pleasure while only chasing secular goals that he finally realizes were just “air”. The movie shows us what he is doing, what he is thinking, and what he is avoiding and why, and in this we find ourselves drawn along just as he is drawn along until the cold dawn of realization finally shines very brightly into his heart and mind as well as into ours. This is a unique Clooney’esk/Reitman glimpse into the parable that tells us what happens if we build our house all our lives on sand.

I would have to disagree with some of the negative reviews that say there is a lot of “nudity” in this movie. That is simply not the case. This movie actually has less sensuality/sexuality then most TV perfume commercials and certainly less then most evening TV soap operas. There is one scene where we are shown a woman from behind who is nude, but the scene is brief and is not erotic. There is a scene of the lovers in bed, but its post intimacy. No one is shown topless. And there are no scenes of a couple engaged in any intimacy other then brief kissing.

And regarding the profanity—well, there is some brief serious profanity, but its perhaps less then average for a Hollywood film and certainly its not gratuitous as you would find in an Al Pacino or Martin Scorsese movie.

This movie is created for adults, and its one of the 3 best Clooney movies he’s made. I would not suggest that anyone younger then 18 be allowed to see it. I liked it a lot, as I found it to be very well directed, very well acted, and very thought provoking, and has a lot to say regarding how not to live your life. I recommend it to adults.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Eva, age 48 (USA)
Positive—This is a funny, but ultimately sad comedy asking questions of a society and economy where companies reward “loyalty” in frequent flier miles while destroying the lives of loyal employees by firing them after years of service. Clooney works for a company that has found a niche taking advantage of a bad economy “taking devastated people to where they can see a glimmer of light and setting them adrift.”

Phoniness, motivational speech, career orientation and the transient world of airports and hotels produce questions of what kind of relationships can develop in this kind of life. To avoid revealing too much of the plot, let us say that traditional family values for “grown-ups” are challenged in various ways.

Small bits of decency make their presence felt. Cussing and some sexuality are present, so expect them. Clooney is great but Anna Kendrick steals the show.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Stanley Hirtle, age 65 (USA)
Neutral—This film has been nominated for many awards, so I went looking for its strengths and virtues. It is about a man who leads a very solitary life which requires almost constant travel, with no time for any family life. He meets somebody he really likes who is amenable to casual sex, with the lack of commitment that he likes so much, and decides to pursue her seriously, but why? That change or decision was not developed enough for me. He also sees that he has been unavailable for his relatives, and attends his younger sister’s wedding. Call me hard to please, but I didn’t see enough emotional/logistical development for the emotional changes that supposedly take place. George Clooney does an admirable job of carrying the movie; he is an able actor. We do focus on him. Maybe all the screenwriter and producers were trying to show was the first stage of realizing aloneness and selfishness. I left feeling that something was lacking. Could have been better.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4½
Halyna Barannik, age 63 (USA)
Neutral—This movie really made me stop and think about many things. Maybe it we shouldn’t dedicate our lives to a company just to pay the bills. Maybe we should try to chase our dreams and be happy. Maybe life should be more than putting in 40 plus hours at the office. Perhaps we should think twice about getting married and having kids. Ryan, the main character is very lonely, but most of my married girlfriends constantly express to me how lonely they feel. Very thought-provoking movie because it inspired me to do just that—think about life choices before I robotically make decisions.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Rebecca, age 30 (USA)
Negative—I don’t get what all the hype is about. This is just George Clooney being George Clooney. No stretch in acting here. Just when I thought his character might be learning about the emptiness of his life, it implodes. He seems to have learned nothing. Anna Kendrick stole the show, however, even though I thought she looked much younger than the role she was playing. I left the movie depressed. And I know of one college boy who said the movie proved his theory about not believing in love. So sad.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2½
—Jill, age 44 (USA)
Negative—I’m somewhat surprised by the high rating this movie was given. Besides the offensive language, sex, and nudity, I felt that the movie was slow and boring. I was also bothered by the message this movie portrayed, which was to empty your backpack of things that weigh you down such as possessions and relationships. The George Clooney character (Ryan) was living a solitary life on the go and wasn’t committed to anyone. Though I believe he was beginning to realize that this “empty” life was no longer all he thought it was going to be, I didn’t feel that the movie did enough to bring it around and tell the message that relationships and commitments are important and worth the effort. This movie was left me feeling depressed.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Linda, age 48 (USA)
Negative—I was a bit surprised at how positive some of the reviews were about this film—generally they come out slightly more negative than how I feel, but this seems way off to me. Yes, the film has an interesting message, and the trailer makes it look like a good Clooney rom-com, but it wasn’t very rom or com, and watching the copious amounts of really unnecessary swearing and sleaziness to get the message isn’t worth it. There are some disgusting parts of this film that I wish I hadn’t seen—and certainly aren’t appropriate for younger people. I was very disappointed.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Buffy, age 18 (United Kingdom)
Negative—…This film was boring as well as disgusting. There was a tremendous amount of cussing, nudity, and a lot of sexual vocabulary. The only plus side I can come up with is by the end of the film you are left feeling as empty as Ryan does when he realizes all he has missed in life by the life choices he has made. This was one life choice I wish I hadn’t made. …
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—mtmomof5, age 43 (USA)
Negative—I thought this movie was depressing and uninspiring, not to mention dark and melancholy. Watch this if you want a gloomy and heavy film. For those of you that like to be uplifted and encouraged, this movie is not for you.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Jen K., age 38 (USA)