April 22, 2010

#074: Up In The Air 5/10

Up In The Air is probably supposed to make you evaluate your life or something.  It just made realize how much I hate the business-type pricks that are always trolling the airports. My mind had a lot of time to wander while it was not being stimulated by this bland film.  The middle was decent, but it was sandwiched between annoying characterizations and trite storylines.  This underwhelming film still manages a 5 out of 10.

Up In The Air tells the story of Ryan Bingham (George Clooney), a loner who spends most of his life traveling around the world firing people.  He avoids human connections, and his main goal in life is to collect 10 million frequent flyer miles.  His company brings in a recent graduate Natalie (Anna Kendrick) who pitches the cost savings of conducting the firings via webcam.  This will ground Ryan and turn his life upside down.  Before they clip his wings he is tasked with taking Natalie under one of them and showing her the ropes.
Minor spoilers for Up In The Air ahead. The premise of this movie seemed interesting. In the first few minutes I could tell the execution was going to be a problem.  The characters were so annoying.  It was almost impossible to relate to anything that was going on.  I found the first 20 minutes awkward and grueling.  For some reason Ryan Bingham does these motivational speaking gigs in which he uses the visualization of a backpack to convey his message about not tying yourself down.  It was so stupid and out of place.  He is such a smooth talker with his job and now he is giving these speeches, it just was ridiculous.  Later in the film he has to give a talk to help his sister out that goes directly against his mantra.  Uh oh, what is he going to do?  It just felt so unimaginative.

Just before this film completely lost me it started to hit its sweet spot towards the middle. There were some really great scenes in there, and I felt like the movie was picking up some steam.  Then towards the end everything fell apart again.  I wanted, and expected, this film to surprise me.  I could see everything coming from a mile away.  It didn't do anything that made me feel like the experience of watching it was worthwhile.

There is a fairly twisty plot point in this film that is supposed to shock you.  The only thing shocking about it was how awkwardly and nonsensically it was executed.  One question... why would she give him her address?  In the context of their relationship it would make no sense for her to ever give him her address.  Did he look it up on his own?  I liked the idea of what they did.  I just hated how they did it.  I hated that he was doing another one of his backpack speeches and he just couldn't deceive these people anymore with his message, so he had to run away.  It all felt so fabricated.  The whole film felt like a bad forgery of movie that was supposed to have emotion and purpose.

Even though I had a lot of problems with Up In The Air, I think it is still good enough to make it worth renting. I thought I was going to get something out of this film, but it turned out to be a mindless "anti" romantic comedy.  I was hoping for stimulation, but got uninspired abstractions.  It's worth a rental, just don't expect too much out of it.

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