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REVIEW: Up In The Air

Oscar nominated, but like airplane food, mediocre at best

Up in the Air.
Courtesy photo

Jason Reitman’s latest film Up in the Air has been praised by all the critics. It would’ve gotten an Oscar nomination even if they didn’t increase the nominations to 10.

It doesn’t live up to the hype.

If I were to give this movie a grade, it would get the same grade I’d give Reitman’s two previous films (Juno, Thank You For Smoking). It would receive a B-.

All of those movies are serious comedies with dark aspects, which is fine. The problem arises when you have silly scenes that seem preposterous.

In Juno, there are at least 10.

Thank You For Smoking has fewer bad scenes. I couldn’t decide which was worse – Aaron Eckhardt screaming profanities at his ex-wife, or showing up at the Marlboro Man’s house and being fired upon with a shotgun (only to have Sam Elliot change his mind about being angry after opening a suitcase full of money).

Up in the Air not only has a few scenes I saw coming down Broadway, but it also has characters doing things they would never do (Clooney leaving in the middle of a paid seminar to go after the girl. And that woman doing a number of things she would never do).

I have no problem with Clooney getting praise for this role. He’s the modern day Cary Grant, and he really pulls off this player you can root for. He does his job well and actually has sympathy for the people he fires.

The supporting cast isn’t too shabby, either. Vera Farmiga’s flirtatious conversations with Clooney work, although I’m guessing the line he used to get her back to the hotel room probably wouldn’t work for any guy that didn’t look like George Clooney.

Danny McBride - who I keep claiming to not care for - once again is perfectly cast as the dopey dude that Clooney’s sister is about to marry (he uncomfortably tries to reel George into a pyramid scheme at the rehearsal dinner).

The buzz this movie got for casting real people who had recently been fired was really lame. I felt it took away from the film and, besides, it was sprinkled with actors (most notably, bearded comedian Zach Galifianakis and the bald J.K. Simmons).

There were enough funny one-liners and interesting scenes to make this picture work. I certainly wasn’t disappointed I saw it. Of course, in this economy, that adds something to the mix as well.

I was very pleasantly surprised with the great soundtrack (songs from Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, who recently rocked the Street Scene…as well as Dan Auerbach, CSN, and Elliott Smith).

After a scene that attempted to be profound but fell flat (with Sam Elliott again, this time as a pilot), I was glad to see an ironically narrated ending that worked perfectly.

But if you watch Michael Clayton after viewing this, you’ll see the difference between a good film and a great film. And for all the top 10 lists this movie made, I don’t think it would crack my top 25. Although, the other “Up” movie from this year does.

I left the theatre realizing the film wouldn’t stay with me long, but hey…I did learn how to get through airports a lot quicker.