By Clint Morris
Hollywood rarely treats us to such smooth first class rides anymore. Usually, theyâ€™ll throw you the cinematic equivalent of a packet of salt-drenched nibblies, dog-eared colouring book, and something nice to listen to to divert you from the unwelcome shakes, jolts, and restiveness ahead. But Jason Reitman’s â€˜â€™Up in the Airâ€™â€™ is such a pleasurable, bump-free jaunt you’ll wonder whether youâ€™ve even left the ground.
Written and directed by the chap that gave us the equally well-written and surprising â€˜â€™Junoâ€™â€™, â€˜â€™Up in the Airâ€™â€™ is a soaring â€œreal-lifeâ€ dramedy about a career-man, played by captain charismatic George Clooney, who starts to wonder whether cash, condos and concierges arenâ€™t where happiness lies.
Clooneyâ€™s Ryan Bingham is a corporate downsizing expert whose cherished life on the road is threatened just as he is on the cusp of reaching ten million frequent flyer miles and just after he’s met the frequent-traveler woman (Vera Farmiga) of his dream.
Young Natalie (Anna Kendrick) has worked out a way for companies to fire their employees without ever having to leave the office, thus eliminating the need for someone like Bingham.
Determined to show the naive â€œgirlâ€ the error of her logic, the slick Bingham takes her on one of his cross country firing expeditions, but as she starts to realize the disheartening realities of her profession, he begins to see the downfalls to his way of life.
Itâ€™s hard to put my finger on why this film worked for me so much as it did.
Was it because I’d just been pink slipped myself at the time (company Iâ€™d been with for several years had just gone into receivership, and I was forced to find another gig), and so could really relate to the plight of some of the poor sods here (who, by the way, were largely played by folks whoâ€™d recently become unemployed), about to face an insufficient funds alert in the near future?
Was it that I’d never been so taken by George Clooney in a film? That didnâ€™t quite come out right. I love George â€“ who doesnâ€™t!? â€“ and think heâ€™s fun in whatever he does, heâ€™s just never blown me away as much as did here. Itâ€™s the most authentic and most effective performances (and yes, Iâ€™ m also referring to Batman) Iâ€™ve seen from the former small-screen surgeon.
Was it the powerful performances of fellow passengers Anna Kendrick (â€œTwilightâ€) and Vera Famiga (â€œThe Departedâ€)?
Was it that I awoke to the realization a few short years ago that family, not finances, is where itâ€™s all at?
Or was it, quite simply, the refreshingly original but still very believable story as penned by top typist Reitman?
Guessing, all those things…
Like an airplane thatâ€™s encountered some rocky weather but got it through splendidly, Iâ€™m not going to question it too much. It works, and thatâ€™s all that matters. My god, it works.
â€œUp in the Airâ€ is likely the smoothest, most pleasurable ride youâ€™ll have all year – one Iâ€™ll personally be returning to time and time again in the years to come.
Blu-Ray Details & Extras
Accompanying the beautiful, grain-free, vibrant 1080p transfer are an intriguing commentary (like this, commentaries are always worthwhile when they’re both informative and entertaining), a music video, deleted scenes, a featurette, and storyboards.
Great extras, sure, but the real goods here lay within the film itself – it’s an absolute gem. Well worth adding to your collection.