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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Up In the Air: Down to Earth

The latest Clooney vehicle is fully equipped with 100s of seats for the in-flight movie goers to bounce from destination to destination during the economic recession of a lifetime.

Ryan Bingham, a layoff termination specialist, flies into the depths of manufacturing/tech sector demise and downsizing from coast to coast to offer boilerplate advice and quick-witted empathy that departs vapidly with his next boarding call. He has absolutely mastered the art of winning no friends and influencing no company's direction while in hot pursuit of a rare aviation feat.

He finds oddly similar companionship on his frequent flyer quest. Alex Goran (Vera Farmiga), a road warrioring, thirty something with a sly smile and devilish intentions, takes to meeting up with Bingham after a quick flirtation over travel perks and specialty cards jets off to bed with him. Alex is in an amoral search for more of an escape than a new destination which seemingly fits with Bingham's mantra on life and people.

Meanwhile, the home office saddles Bingham with a newbie, tech-driven young lass with all the answers and none of the questions. Natalie (Anna Kendrick, above) plays an overconfident, Ivy league-educated operations tech analyst to a convincing and Oscar-worthy end. Clooney now finds himself with two hard jobs: one, the lover-come-landing who learns too late the causality of his years of absence from any personal life; the other, as the mentor/father figure that a young woman with a drive, determination, and spirit might not learn from unless something overwhelms her to the point of delusion with that job.

Clooney's realness as a person shines through despite his character's task. And you like that just enough. The characters seem straight out of your local workforce. Indeed, they are in some parts of the movie; yet they are not prosaic, or banal. You understand them, especially if, you, the moviegoer, are unemployed. Small, but important roles, are played by Jason Bateman as the office manager, and Amy Morton as Bingham's sister. They move along the plot well - with good method.

This movie is really down to Earth while ending up in the air.
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