National Catholic Register


'Up In The Air' Falls Flat On Its Face

What do you think of this Oscar-nominated movie?

BY Danielle Bean

| Posted 3/23/10 at 9:26 AM


Last week, my husband and I had an “in-house” date of dinner and a movie after the kids had gone to bed. These are the kinds of romantic things you do when your family is large and your budget is small.

Having recently watched this year’s Academy Awards, we decided to check out the much-honored and raved about Up in the Air starring George Clooney.

I really like George Clooney. He’s one of the few popular actors in Hollywood who has any kind of real charisma, in my opinion. I can see why people like him, and in most romantic roles he’s played (see Leatherheads, for example) I find him genuinely charming. But even Clooney couldn’t charm his way through this one.

This was an Oscar-nominated film? This was an Oscar-nominated performance? No way. This was just a really really bad movie. One that, for some reason, I felt compelled to watch all the way through to its miserable end.

Clooney’s character, Ryan Bingham, an always-traveling, work-a-holic loner, is sometimes pathetic, but mostly just a jerk. The only less likable character in the movie is his love interest, Alex, played by Vera Farmiga (who was also nominated for an Oscar—crazy, that!).

A movie about jerks can still be worthwhile if it makes a meaningful statement about the human experience. But the most meaningful statement this movie seems bent on making is that commitment is silly and women can be just as piggish as men.

Not exactly moving stuff.

As I watched the two main characters exchange raunchy text messages and casual sex, I felt only bad for them. For the actors, I mean. It was embarrassing that these two otherwise dignified professionals have been reduced to playing characters with the maturity level of junior high school boys. (Sorry, junior high school boys I know. I mean the ones from my seventh grade gym class years ago and I’m sure you are nothing like them.)

Have some dignity! Have some self respect! Have ... a conversation! I think we were supposed to be charmed by this older couple’s free spirited youthfulness. But really? Sometimes coarseness is just coarseness.

I could have been satisfied if there had been at least one real relationship in the movie, or if any of its numerous commitment-avoiding characters had come to a realization about the value of monogamous, lifelong relationships. I had hope that would happen in the heart to heart talk Ryan has with his sister’s fiance—but the theme of that conversation winds up being only that being alone is “kinda lonely” and and you “need a co-pilot.” Hardly cathartic.

Final proof of the fact that Up In the Air was a complete and total waste of my time was the fact that I did not cry once.

I’m easy. I cry during Pampers commercials. If a movie about relationships leaves me dry-eyed, I can say with confidence that it will leave pretty much everyone cold.

Am I wrong? Did you see Up in the Air? What did you think? And to ensure that my next date night won’t be such a dud, please share some DVD titles you’ve recently enjoyed.