So, I saw “Up in the Air”…..

….and it was really, really good. Well, sort of. Kind of. First of all a bit of background. I was planning on seeing it on Christmas Day as that’s when it was supposed to come out in theaters, but I drove by the local movie theater earlier today and saw that it was listed as “now showing.” And it was indeed showing already, so I went to one of the showings this evening.

The movie was exactly what I was expecting actually, which is depressing on one hand but good on the other hand. No, it’s not all about flying, but it’s all about the things that come along with being on the road more often than not. I thought they did a phenomenal job not just with the factual aspects of frequent travel (which I’m sure is largely thanks to American, Hertz, Hilton, and Travelpro), but also the emotions, actions, and different personalities of those that travel. There were also many laugh out loud scenes, especially when it came to the travel scenes. I found myself laughing when others weren’t, while others laughed when I wasn’t, although it really was funny all around.

The movie was thought provoking, at least for those of us that spend more times at airports than at home. Here’s where I sort of start with some spoilers, so if you haven’t seen the movie, feel free to stop reading here. The reason I get into this is because I’d like to hear the thoughts of others that have seen the movie. And if you do stop reading here, definitely give the movie a watch.

Anyway, on one hand Clooney’s character seems happy all the way up until the end, even before he meets “Alex.” He might be lonely, but at the same time you can’t miss what you don’t know, and he really enjoys being on the road. Now I don’t want to get into my general theory on marriage and families, but I think very few people in the world are really happy.

The “flaw” in his character only really seems to come out when he pursues “Alex,” only to find out she’s married. And sadly enough from there I thought the movie kind of stunk, at least for someone like me that was hoping for some kind of happy or noteworthy ending. Despite making ten million miles, he seems to end up unhappy, but then again it’s not totally clear. On one hand he doesn’t seem like he’d be happy continuing to travel and being alone, but at the same time I can’t imagine he’d be happy at home either, even if he were settled with someone he loves. It’s just one of those endings that makes me want to rip my hair out. What message can those of us that are gone more often than not get out of this? We’re addicted to travel and even enjoy it, but then again there are more meaningful things in life. But based on this movie it seems like there’s no way to win.

Again, great movie overall, although I would have preferred if it ended up being a bit more of a chick flick so I could feel better about my hobby. 😉

Filed Under: Media
  1. Taken from the paragraph directly preceding the one you mentioned…”Here’s where I sort of start with some spoilers,”

  2. Your last sentence was my thoughts exactly, too much of the whole “you need love” thing. If i learned anything from the movie, is to make sure your job never grounds you. If he was never grounded, he would have never had the time to chase Alex, and would have been happy. Another complaint is the documentary style interviews that didn’t fit into the movie, that’s just stupid. If it wasn’t for that, i think up in the air would have had a good chance at best picture.

  3. Ben, come on now! Please edit this right away, you gave away quite a few spoilers.

    :rolleyes: How could you be such a n00b?

  4. Joe J. & Alex: Huh??? What part of “Here’s where I sort of start with some spoilers…” wasn’t clear? Lucky clearly warned the reader and explained why.

    Sam: Regarding your “Another complaint is the documentary style interviews” comment. IMHO, that inclusion is one of the elements of the movie that has endeared it so much to the movie critics … and will help it be considered for Oscar’s Best Picture.

    I saw it for the third time last night (this time, finally, with ms. jmd001). As much as still really enjoyed it, I think I’ll wait for the DVD (and its extras) to see it again. 🙂

  5. @Paul – You joined the wrong plan. For the purpose of lifetime AAdvantage status, all miles count: bonus miles, credit card miles, miles transferred in from another program, miles purchased, miles earned from the dining rewards program or the AAdvantage e-shopping portal. There are definitely a few people who have lifetime platinum status (2 million miles) just from credit cards.

    To remember: 1 million gets you lifetime gold, 2 million gets you lifetime platinum (and some SWUs), after that you get SWUs every million miles. (Contrary to the movie, there is no lifetime executive platinum. You have to earn that one the hard way.) Also, for annual status earning, only BIS miles (or double EQM miles in a year like this year) matter.

    @lucky – Reitman ultimately believes that the things that matter in people’s lives are relationships. (Ryan Bingham, when it comes right down to it, ends up believing that too. He doesn’t believe in firing people over a computer screen.) So that’s where his movie is coming from. If you’re someone that doesn’t much care for the concept of marriage and/or family, then (a) Reitman isn’t your ideal writer/director, and (b) he believes that you’ll never find true happiness.

    In Reitman’s world — and frankly, I kind of agree with him — if you spend your whole life moving and you never stop to smell the flowers and let people into your life, you’ll end up with nothing more than a bunch of business associates (who don’t _really_ care about you), and a relationship with an airline. And in the end, the airline isn’t really your friend. It’s a company that values you only for the amount of money you generate for them and their shareholders.

    By the end of the movie, Bingham comes to realize that he’s been mistaking a frequent flier program for an actual friend. (Or, he’s been telling himself that real friendship doesn’t so much matter, and that artificial friendship — “Welcome aboard, Mr. Bingham!” — will suffice.)

    Of course, Bingham is an extreme case. Most of us who travel a lot don’t make our whole lives about not stopping and about having no attachments. But I think Up in the Air might be taken as a cautionary tale. We have to stop every once in a while and realize that people matter.

  6. From my perspective, its a difficult movie to go to with my wife. First, she loves chick flicks and this one she would enjoy up to the end where there is no happy ending. Second, she understands the flying for my job part and tolerates the occasional mileage run. I think she thinks there is an “end in sight” for the miles…where I know there isn’t! Every year its making 1K or better! The movie would reinforce this.

    The movie did introduce a question to myself that I never really thought through. I’m a United guy….but… all miles really count on American? I have a respectable amount of miles (bis) with United that is slowly working towards the 1 million mark. I know that I have accumulated and spent well over 2.5 million miles that were bonus miles, etc. When comparing my 700k liletime miles with United to my 3.4 million overall miles that could be with American, did I join the wrong plan? Not changing now, but the American thing threw me for the first few minutes of the movie when I was thinking “thats not how it is on United.”!

  7. I skipped the spoilers. Thanks for the warning! Another Flyertalker & I are seeing the movie tomorrow in SF.

    I tried to engage Jason Reitman on Twitter a couple times to see if we FTers could get swagged in some way, but no response (to that, anyway). I thought it would’ve been cool for us to have several simultaneous DOs in each time zone wearing ‘Up in the Air’ shirts or whatever. Anywho…

  8. Went to see it last night. The whole time we went to see it, my parter kept giggling and saying “They made a movie about you, Ben!”

    Bingham’s definitely an extreme case. I’m on the road 50% or more of the time, but I have someone to come home to, and a network of close friends in the 3-4 cities I travel to. Bingham has no one at home, and due to the nature of his job, is probably never at the same place twice.

    All in all I liked the movie. Going to read the book now.

    Movie idea for a spoof- “Down on the Ground,” a gritty movie about a interstate truck driver, who travels the USA 24/7, espousing Ryan’s no connections philosophy, but without the perceived glamour of jetting around. Instead, he sleeps in his truck and has casual relations with people he meets at gas stations. Dines at Subway every day.

  9. No! DON’T READ THE BOOK! All the stuff you liked about the movie: Not in the book. But you do get a bunch of mental illness and nasty characters, if that floats your boat.

  10. I’ll read all of the above notes tomorrow. We’re off to see the movie (and get out-Ted), with multiple family members. No pun intended!!

  11. bigger spoiler alert, please! I suggest bold, 1st sentence above the 1st gfraf, “WARNING – THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS, DON’T READ IT UNTIL YOU’VE SEEN THE MOVIE!”

    you know, so you don’t ruin the film for yet another person that scans the post, misses the buried spoiler warning you have now and it’s totally blown.

  12. All this worry about the spoilers….. I thought Lucky was the LAST FTer to see it! (ok, kidding — we got lucky and saw it on pseudo-MR to Boston a couple weeks ago).

    As for the ending — I agree. I wanted something happier. Not to mention, if it was a chick flick Lucky, you could have taken a date! FWIW, my wife claims the reason the ending sucked is that they want it to get Oscar buzz. I know nothing of movies (well, at least the ones that United doesn’t show), but it seems that if a movie is going to win an Oscar, the ending ought not suck…..

  13. Honestly I think it was a happy ending.. He can now choose where he goes and for how long. A huge life change for him.

  14. Just saw the movie.

    Spoiler alert …

    Ben, to answer your statemnent, I think CG was happy at the end. He was back in his environment, on HIS terms. Since I’m a UA flyer, I couldn’t tell if there were any mistakes in the movie, unlike the Tom Hanks flick and the Billy Crystal movie (which had mistakes). :>)

    After we walked out of the movie, my brother-in-law started asking me how I get so many miles .

  15. I missed the spoiler alert that’s buried in the middle of the third paragraph. I was looking for a more obvious alert, like the old flashing HTML code. 😉

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