I saw this movie ‘Up in the Air’ – has been classified as a comedy. This is by no means the start of a movie critic career for me but I found the movie to be a sad story. Sure there were funny moments but overall the movie conveyed a message of loneliness and portrayed a man in self denial when it comes to the need for friends and family.
There are parts of the movie that I could relate to: Ryan (portrayed by George Clooney) is a road warrior with the mentality of a miles hog. As he says in the movie – He has a number in mind as his target (10 million miles). This number made me realize that while I don’t have a target in mind, I am approaching 6 million frequent flyer miles. Another number he threw out was the amount he travelled in one year (350,000 miles) and he goes on to say that the moon is 250,000 miles from the earth. I have been doing 275-325K miles every year for the last several years. But there is a difference: I don’t deny missing family and friends while I am away and I hate most hotel rooms! And I always have someone looking forward to me coming come. Ryan also flashes an American Airlines Concierge Key card in the movie – yes that is a real program – I have the card.
Another depressing aspect of the film is the role Clooney plays. Ryan works for a company who gets hired to fire people. Needless to say, currently this is a touchy subject particularly in the US but the movie did a good job on highlighting the realities of job losses and people’s reaction to being fired or let go. Ryan has a methodology going about his job and more often than not, he helps people focus on the positive and look forward to the future rather than focus solely on the fact that he/she does not have a job.
The movie also made light of technology replacing the need for personal contact and features an experiment by a young new hire (a Cornell grad) who tries to replace folks like Ryan with call center type agents who follow an elaborate ‘flow chart’ for firing people over video conference.
All in all a decent movie with some good humor, amazing aerial shots of major US cities and an accurate portrayal of the harsh realities of corporate downsizing! Plugs all over the movie for American Airlines, Hilton hotels and Avis car rental.