Up in the Air

It was a coincidence that we saw “Up in the Air’, the new George Clooney movie, on the same day that a young Nigerian decided to blow up a Delta Airlines plane en route from Holland to Detroit. It seems to me somewhat miraculous that the goal of yesterday’s putative suicide bomber and the attempt by the putative “shoe bomber” of a few years ago were both frustrated, and it seems inevitable, doesn’t it, that someone, at some point, will succeed? In fact, it seems rather simple, doesn’t it, to carry something on a plane that could explode, or to put something in your luggage? The true surprise is that is doesn’t happen more often.

In the meantime, George Clooney has made his 10,000,000 mile goal in “Up in the Air”, something that may be a little too dangerous to aspire to in real life.

As to the film itself, I thought it was a bit silly and disappointing, considering the hype. Clooney himself was terrific. Outstanding. Clearly Oscar quality, although he seemed such a natural for the part that it hardly seemed like acting. The rest of the cast was also very strong – much stronger than the screen play itself.

Clooney works for an Omaha company, and spends virtually his entire life on the road, where he helps downsizing companies fire employees, not the most pleasant job, but it’s one that lets Clooney avoid a normal life – you know, a life with a house, a family and day to day responsibilities. A young woman hired by the company comes up with the brilliant concept that, if the job terminations were handled by computer, the company could save its extraordinary travel expenses, and increase its profitability. Clooney objects and his both sends her with him on the road, so that she can determine whether there is any practical reason why the electronic termination protocols would not work.

Clooney is about twice the age of his young road buddy, and there is no romance there, but he does have a romance with another woman, who also has a job that puts her on the road extensively, and it is his relationship with her (does he really want to settle down after all?) and with his job (which will keep him eternally up in the air) which come into conflict, and which establish the issues with which the film attempts to deal.

I won’t tell you what happens, except to say that, at the end, Clooney seems more up in the air than he even did when he received his 10 million mile award.

I am not sure why the reviewers are so positive. Were it not for Clooney, I think this film would be just another movie. (As an aside, I will say that the aerial views of St. Louis, Detroit, Des Moines, Omaha, Kansas City, and Tulsa are very nice, and that the St. Louis Lambert Field trivia scene provides good publicity for that airport.)

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