Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Up in the Air

Perhaps you were thinking of going to the movies this weekend.  Perhaps someone's trying to drag you to Avatar and you have no real interest in blue alien things.  Then, might I humbly reccommend Up in the Air instead?  (I promise this has a wedding tie in, so please bear with me.)

I know a recession movie isn't an easy sell, even when it stars George Clooney.  And if Jason hadn't found a job last month, then I don't know if we could have sat through a film in which the main character plays a layoff specialist (many of the layoff scenes feature real people who have recently been laid off, not actors).  But although the film provides a stark look at our current economic situation, it was a delicate work of art and balance that managed to not be about layoffs or the recession at all.  It didn't offer any easy answers or resolutions, but it wasn't a bleak assessment that left me depressed or drained.  Instead, it was an honest examination of modern life, detachment, and transitions that never relied on cliches.  And I think that last sentence explains why it resonated so much: it wasn't a highly stylized, cliched, or sanitized look at life, it simply decided to respect us as moviegoers (which is, unfortunately, rare in big studio films.) 

As part of the honest examination, I really appreciated how Up in the Air approached its wedding scene. (I promise this isn't a spoiler issue. The wedding doesn't involve a central plot point or central character.)  The wedding took place in a hokey banquet hall with a working class Midwestern couple.  Let's just say, it wasn't a wedding for the blogs.  But even though the bridesmaids dresses weren't great and even though the banquet hall had plastic chairs (oh, the horror) the movie didn't condescend, either in big-city derision for the perceived tackiness or in elevating the presumably wholesome-but-kooky Midwestern values.  It was a fine line for the film to walk, because the event was tacky* and because the characters had a hint of Midwestern kookiness and definite family-oriented values.  But somehow, the director Jason Rietman manages to capture it as just a wedding.  Nothing more, nothing less.  And in the middle of all this thinking about stylish and personal and meaningful weddings, it was a nice moment of stepping back and thinking yes, it's just a wedding, nothing more and nothing less.

*I hate hate hate that word, and Ariel gave a perfect explanation of why at Offbeat Bride.  But it fits the context of what I'm trying to get at here.


  1. Thanks for the movie review. I was discussing movies with Mr Fix It last night as I mentioned that were two coming out on Christmas Day I want to see. I saw Up in the Air as I walked past the theater last night and didn't think I had seen or heard too much about what it was all about so this is very informing. :)

  2. Cool, I might check that out this weekend.

  3. I've wanted to see this movie. We went to the movies the other night but saw The Blind Side (which I loved) since its been out longer. I am very intrigued about Up in the Air now. Thx for sharing your views!

  4. Sorry I'm late to the party... I've been making my way through your archives for a while now. I totally agree with you that Up in the Air felt thoroughly authentic. Unlike a lot of movies that take you through the typical roller coaster of emotional build up, this was much more subtle and just felt real. My only critique: gorgeous George, himself. All the other actors were fairly average looking with a bit of quirky good looks or became more attractive as you got to know them, and then there's handsome George Clooney who we all know and love smack in the middle of it. I still loved it nonetheless...


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