What You Need To Know:
George Clooney does a terrific job of playing Ryan Bingham. There are many hilarious moments and many horrifying moments as Ryan fires people whose whole lives are coming to an end. UP IN THE AIR could have been more inspiring, but it ends on a completely depressing, godless note. It also has many obscenities, some strong sexual content, and a scene of explicit nudity.
(RoRo, B, C, Ab, LLL, V, SS, NN, A, DD, M) Confused, but strong Romantic worldview set in a hedonistic, egotistical world, with a slight morality lesson where the hero ultimately figures out his hedonistic lifestyle is a waste, plus a wedding set in a Christian church with Christian symbols but movie does not take advantage of the setting to deliver a more inspiring message and ends on depressing note with no solutions; at least 50 obscenities and five profanities; people being fired get aggressive, knock over chairs, clean off table tops, and one threatens to commit suicide and later does so; adulterous sex with sex act not shown but many descriptions of sex and acceptance of sex messages; very provocative rear female nudity and upper male nudity; frequent alcohol use; smoking and discussion of drugs; and, verbal abuse and deception.
UP IN THE AIR is an often funny but very dark cautionary tale with no hint of a solution to life’s problems.
Ryan Bingham is a corporate downsizer who fires people. He flies so much that he’s almost reached 10 million miles. On the side, he lectures about getting rid of the excess stuff in your life, including people. He travels so much that, when he’s asked where his home is, he says, “Here,” while he’s sitting on the plane.
Ryan also has many one-night stands with women. He meets a woman named Alex who captivates him by just wanting extreme recreational sex on planes, in hotel rooms, and anywhere else.
One day Ryan is called back to the corporate headquarters with all the other corporate downsizers to hear about a great cost-saving system. Brilliant but naïve twenty something efficiency expert, Natalie, has convinced Ryan’s company that they can fire people via video conferencing. Ryan is shocked and convinces the company to let him take Natalie on a world-wind tour of corporations where he will be firing people. Ryan is tough but effective in his firing techniques. Natalie goofs up, and a client’s career hangs in the balance.
Ryan goes to his niece’s wedding, where he and has to talk the groom out of having cold feet. Ryan realizes he may be wrong about jettisoning everything in life, so he goes to propose to Alex, but is in for the shock of his life.
George Clooney does a terrific job of playing Ryan Bingham. Anna Kendrick is excellent as Natalie. There are many hilarious moments, but there are many horrifying moments as Ryan fires people whose whole lives are coming to an end. He doesn’t care a bit about these people. The movie clearly shows that his selfish, egotistical attitude is ultimately a disaster. The only hopeful thing is finding a mate, but much of the movie shows that marriage is a disaster too.
There was an opportunity to show real hope at his niece’s wedding, but the wedding is filmed like a music video with no sermon and hope. The wedding is set in a church with symbols of the Cross and other artifacts, but the movie passes by all of the real hope to end on a completely depressing note.
UP IN THE AIR is getting a lot of critical buzz, perhaps because it shows the cruelty of the corporate structure firing lifetime employees. Perhaps because people realize that Ryan’s egocentric, hedonistic lifestyle is a disaster. It seems a very apt portrait of a society without a soul. The problem is that there is a soul to this society, and there is an answer to Ryan’s problems.
Every problem raised in the movie has been answered by Jesus Christ. He died on the Cross to forgive us so that we can forgive others. He rose again so that we could be born again and live with the eternal hope of a life sustained by His grace through the power of His Holy Spirit and the Word of God, the Bible. This is the type of movie where it would be nice to stand outside the theater and talk to the viewers about the hope of a Jesus Christ after the movie has driven them to the point of despair. It is sad watching George Clooney in this role, because it is almost autobiographical.
Now, media-wise viewers must be warned that there are a lot of “f” words in this movie, and a very shocking scene of rear female nudity near the beginning. The multiple descriptions of sex are also quite crude. Without all this, the movie could have been more acceptable, with a Minus 2 of Extreme Caution. As it is, UP IN THE AIR is excessive and ultimately uninspiring. It should be re-titled DOWN IN THE DUMPS.