Saturday, 13 March 2010
Up in the Air
I really wish I had seen this on a plane. And not simply for the obvious thematic reasons. I am so much more forgiving of movies I see while on a plane. I'm so much more forgiving of everything--myself, my family, the food--while I'm on a plane. I think I might have even liked Juno and Thank You For Smoking a little better if I'd seen them on a plane. I was, in fact, avoiding seeing Up in the Air until I was on a plane, but then it was a Friday night and the kids were watching tv and the movie was playing as part of a Clooney double-feature with Good Night, and Good Luck (had already seen that one and loved it, and love George--he's my idea of a movie star, a combo of Clark Gable and Cary Grant, something his aunt Rosemary no doubt taught him) at our local independent cultural center which I like to support and, well, off I went. The film did begin magnificently. The opening credits were fantastic. The initial patter between George and Vera (a revelation!) was (almost) worthy of any '40s fast-talking-dame romcom. Anna Kendrick as the eager, fresh-faced professional without a clue, so spot on. This film was 100% perfectly cast and a perfect example of how casting is of dire importance. Without this very particular cast, the film should have gone straight to video. (Full disclosure: the fact that I have been to Sicily and shoe shopping with Mindy Marin, the casting director, has nothing to do with this opinion.) And then pretty soon it all began to head down hill, the amusing details of airmile aspirations and trenchant soliloquies by the laid-off keeping things aloft, but the impending nosedive was palpable. By the sister's wedding, the tour around the high school, the cold-feet pep talk, the plane, the movie, had crashed. (On second thought, maybe it's better I didn't see this on a plane.) The script was smouldering in Hallmark schlock, the edgy social commentary had morphed into a propaganda tool for the status quo, blandly repeating the Walmart-coated sentiments of love and commitment and pursuing your dreams--while the Corporatation makes off with the suckers', ahem, employees, hard earned loot. It made me want to puke. Why is it that someone as obviously talented as Jason Reitman cynically decides to make a career out of choosing charged "social issues"--smoking, teen pregnancy, unemployment--and pretends to have something to say about them but really is just using them to sell his films? For me, it's like throwing a kid with a terminal illness into a film simply in order to make your audience cry. Devoid of integrity, or worse. For the record, the book was better than the movie, and I spotted the author Walter Kirn, another acquaintance (such friends in high places!), in two scenes--looking a little bemused by the whole thing.