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George Clooney I love George Clooney.  He is, without a doubt, the Cary Grant of our time.  He is smart, funny, erudite, sexy, and always classy (this picture notwithstanding).  You don’t find pictures of him in the tabloids sucking on the toes of naked starlets.  No.  You find pictures of him in the Washington Post at policy meetings schmoozing with senators.  He seems to have a great sense of humor.  He does not live his personal life in public.  He does a tux justice in a way Brad Pitt can only dream of.  And generally speaking, he makes intelligent movies. Even the dumb ones (Oceans 11…etc) he dresses up, and the really smart ones, like Three Kings, he makes transcendent.  Just like Cary Grant did.

So I went to see his new movie “Up In The Air” the other night.


George plays  Ryan Bingham, a guy who literally lives his life in the air.  On planes.  His job is to fire people.  His company contracts him out to businesses that need employees laid off and he flies off and does that.  He’s fine with it and he’s good at it.  It is not that he is callous…not at all.  He is good at it because he feels it.  What he really likes about his job is that it keeps him on the road nearly all of the time (350K miles in a year, as he notes at one point).  He is rapidly approaching the Nirvana of frequent fliers…10 million miles. Which means a special card, his own 1-800 number, a sit down with a legendary pilot, and  his name on a plane.   He is nearly and literally a man without a home.  And he is fine with that.  He likes it.  He does speaking engagements on it.

Then, two things happen.  1) He meets a woman just like  him in a hotel bar and they are…absolutely perfect for each other.   They bond over frequent flier miles and loyal customer cards.  They begin a relationship based on their travel schedules…when can they be in the same city (or close) at the same time?   She is beautiful and sexy, he is handsome and sexy, the sex is great, there are no ties…what could go wrong?  2) His company hires a young go-getter who convinces his boss that it would save money to fire people via the internet.   This pretty much means Ryan will be grounded so he fights for his job by pointing out that Little Miss Internet has no idea what the real world is like.    His boss responds by sending them out on the road together.

He teaches her how to travel light, she teaches him how to have a life.  Or something like that.

This movie is kinda weird.  I think we are supposed to feel like Ryan has no life at all.  He is all but estranged from his family.  His apartment in Nowheresville (Omaha, NE) is blank and empty.  He has no wife, no children, and no desire for any.   I guess by most people’s standards he is a loser.   But…he’s happy.  He is doing exactly what he wants to do.   He has a goal and it is a goal that hardly anyone on this earth will reach.  10 million frequent flier miles.  As he notes, he’ll be the 7th.  More people have walked on the moon.   It is only when he decides to step away from his life and try the more mundane things, the things that everyone tells him he should have,  that things go south.  Of course (and somewhat predictably) his perfect woman, the one he is willing to change his life for, turns out to have a life utterly disconnected from the life she leads on her travels, a life she does not want him to ruin (although she is such a bitch she doesn’t want to give him up either).    On the other hand, he does reconnect with his family.  His little sister is getting married and he goes to her wedding and is able to use his own life experience to talk her fiance out of his cold feet.

This is a small movie.  It’s not full of explosions and not much happens.  A guy lives his life in the air at the beginning, he makes a stab at doing something different and it doesn’t work out, but in the long run he finds his home again and a certain measure of connectedness.   In one of the last scenes of the movie he transfers enough of his frequent flier miles to his sister and her new husband to enable them to fly all the way around the world together.

The movie isn’t awesome, but it doesn’t suck.  All the actors do a great job.  The boss is a little typecast.    The love interest is appropriately sexy in the beginning and appropriately slutty in the end.   Little Miss Internet is graceful and humane; she’s someone trying to be a type who finds that she doesn’t really have it in her.   And George Clooney is, well, George Clooney.   He doesn’t play dumb and he doesn’t play macho.   He plays a guy who takes a risk and it doesn’t work and oh well.  He expresses more with minor facial expressions than James Cameron can manage with an entire boatload of explosives.

The plot meanders a bit.  Things are pretty much the same at the end as they are at the beginning.  Except that  everything has changed.

And yeah.  Somewhere over Iowa he hits 10 million miles.   I cheered for him.

Score:  Meh. But the good kind of meh.


~ by gun street girl on January 14, 2010.

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