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Up in the Air[1]
The poster of an airport window looking onto the tarmac with a Boeing 747 at the gate. An airport sign at the top: "George Clooney", "Up in the Air", "From the Director of 'Juno' and 'Thank You For Smoking'". Three travelers silhouette from left to right: Natalie Keener (Kendrick), Ryan Bingham (Clooney), Alex Goran (Farmiga). At the bottom, tagline: "The story of a man ready to make a connection." and "Arriving this December".
Directed by Jason Reitman
Produced by Daniel Dubiecki
Jeffrey Clifford
Ivan Reitman
Jason Reitman
Written by Sheldon Turner and Jason Reitman
Walter Kirn
Starring George Clooney
Vera Farmiga
Anna Kendrick
Music by Rolfe Kent
Randall Poster
Rick Clark
Cinematography Eric Steelberg
Editing by Dana E. Glauberman
Studio Cold Spring Pictures
DW Studios
The Montecito Picture Company
Rickshaw Productions
Right of Way Films
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date(s) September 5, 2009 (2009-09-05)
(Telluride Film Festival)
December 4, 2009 (2009-12-04)
Running time 109 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $25 million[2][3]
Gross revenue $158,365,355[4]

Up in the Air is a 2009 American comedy-drama film directed by Jason Reitman and co-written by Reitman and Sheldon Turner. It is a film adaptation of the 2001 novel of the same name, written by Walter Kirn. The story is about a corporate downsizer Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) and his travels. The film follows his isolated life and philosophies along with the people he meets along the way. Filming was primarily in St. Louis, Missouri, which substituted for a number of other cities shown in the film. Several scenes were also filmed in Detroit, Michigan, Omaha, Nebraska, Las Vegas, Nevada, and Miami, Florida.

Reitman has heavily promoted Up in the Air with personal appearances during film festivals and other showings, starting with the Telluride Film Festival on September 5, 2009. The Los Angeles premiere was at the Mann Village Theater on Monday, November 30, 2009. Paramount scheduled a limited North American release on December 4, 2009, broadening the release on December 11, 2009 with wide release on December 23, 2009.

The National Board of Review and the Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association have named it the best picture of 2009. It received eight Broadcast Film Critics Association nominations and garnered a win for Adapted Screenplay, six Golden Globe nominations, earning a win for Best Screenplay, and three Screen Actors Guild nominations. It received six Academy Award nominations, but did not win in any category. Up in the Air received recognition from numerous critics' associations.



Ryan Bingham (Clooney) is a man who makes his living traveling to workplaces around the United States and conducting layoffs for bosses too cowardly to do it themselves. Ryan also delivers motivational speeches, using the analogy "What's In Your Backpack?" to extol the virtues of a life free of relationships with people and things. He relishes the comfort of anonymity during his perpetual travels. Ryan's personal goal for his life is to achieve ten million frequent flyer miles (a feat managed only six times previously, according to Bingham). While traveling, he meets another frequent flyer named Alex (Vera Farmiga) and they begin a casual relationship.

Ryan is called back to his company's offices in Omaha, Nebraska, where he finds out that an ambitious young coworker named Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick) is pushing a plan to cut costs by having employees stay grounded and conduct layoffs over the internet. Ryan argues that Natalie knows nothing about the process of firing people, and his boss (Jason Bateman) assigns him to take Natalie with him on his upcoming travels to show her what it's like. As they travel together and become better acquainted, Natalie questions Ryan's philosophy, but Ryan is happy to remain in his niche and continue avoiding serious relationships. During their travels, Natalie finds the layoffs to be an eye opening experience, albeit a negative one as it's devastating for those being fired.

While on the road, Natalie's boyfriend dumps her by text message, leaving her shattered. Ryan and Alex take her with them to crash a tech-conference party at their hotel, which has her finally cut loose. When Natalie talks to Ryan the next day about his refusal to consider a commitment to Alex in spite of their obvious compatibility as a couple, she becomes infuriated; she apologizes later, but soon afterwards they are both called back to Omaha to begin using Natalie's remote-layoff program instead of firing people face-to-face.

Instead of returning to Omaha, Ryan invites Alex to accompany him to his sister's wedding in northern Wisconsin, and she accepts. He introduces her to his older sister Kara (Amy Morton) and his younger sister Julie (Melanie Lynskey), who explains that she and her fiancé Jim (Danny McBride) didn't have the money for a honeymoon; instead, they asked their friends to take pictures of a cardboard cutout of the couple in different places, so "at least we have the photos." Before the wedding, Ryan shows Alex his old high school. Their date is cut short when Kara calls with urgent news; Jim has cold feet, and Bingham must use his motivational skills to persuade him to go through with the wedding. Although this runs counter to all of Ryan's personal ideals, he successfully argues that the important moments in life are seldom alone; Jim apologizes to Julie and the wedding proceeds as planned. Ryan and Alex enjoy attending the wedding together, but afterward Ryan finds that he is once again alone as Alex departs back to resume her own life.

In Omaha, Ryan is less than thrilled to learn more about the online firing program and its systematic precision. He goes to deliver his "What's In Your Backpack?" speech at a prestigious convention, but is unable to continue and walks out shortly after taking the stage. He flies to Alex's home in Chicago. When she opens the door, it's apparent that she's a married woman with young children. He leaves without saying a word; she later tells him on the phone that her family is her real life and Ryan is simply an escape. On the flight home, the crew announces that Ryan has just crossed his ten million miles mark. The airline's chief pilot (Sam Elliott) comes out of the cockpit to meet Ryan, who confesses that meeting his goal is less exciting than he had imagined. Back in his office, Ryan calls the airline to transfer half a million miles each to his sister and brother-in-law so that they'll be able to fly around the world, but is interrupted by his boss.

Ryan's boss comes in and tells Ryan that one of the employees he and Natalie fired has killed herself. In the aftermath, Natalie quits and the company sends Ryan back onto the road, putting the remote-layoff program on indefinite hold. Ryan writes a glowing letter of recommendation for Natalie that helps her get a new job in San Francisco. Ryan enters an airport and stares at the schedule of departures, dropping his compact suitcase on the floor. The film concludes with Ryan's voice over on how most men will be leading normal suburban lives, while he will be flying above them.



Alex's and Natalie's arrival into Ryan's life challenge his philosophy of a relationship-free life throughout the course of the film (Natalie's relationship with her boyfriend and Ryan's growing attachment to Alex). Natalie begins to realize the disheartening aspects of Ryan's job while questioning the purpose of Ryan's personal miles goal, and how his lifestyle makes it impossible for him to make any real relationship.

The film also has a thematic connection to the children's book The Velveteen Rabbit, which appears in the film before the wedding.[11]

Reitman noted that, "In one sense, it’s a movie about a man who fires people for a living. In another sense, it’s a movie about a man who collects air miles excessively. In another sense, it’s about a man who meets a woman who’s so similar to him that even though they both believe in the idea of living solo, they begin to fall in love."[12]

According to Reitman, "The movie is about the examination of a philosophy. What if you decided to live hub to hub, with nothing, with nobody?"[13]




Kirn wrote the book during a snowbound winter on a ranch in rural Montana, while thinking about airports, airplanes and a first-class passenger he had met who would strongly resemble Ryan Bingham.[14]

In 2001, the year the novel, Up in the Air was published, Sheldon Turner discovered the book and wrote a screenplay adaptation, which he sold to Dreamworks in 2003. Jason Reitman later came upon the novel (initially attracted by the Christopher Buckley blurb on the cover) while browsing in the Los Angeles bookstore Book Soup.[15][16] Reitman persuaded his father Ivan Reitman to purchase the book's film rights, and the elder Reitman commissioned a screenplay from Ted Griffin and Nicholas Griffin, who used some elements from Turner's script in their own work. Jason Reitman then developed his own screenplay, incorporating some of the elements from the Griffins' script that had (unbeknownst to Reitman) originated with Turner. Some of Turner's inventions that were utilized in the final film include Ryan's boilerplate termination speech ("Anyone who ever built an empire or changed the world sat where you're sitting right now..."), a key plot point involving a suicide, and the character of Ryan's partner (written by Turner as male).[16][17]Reitman initially attempted to claim sole credit for writing the film, and later admitted to being confused when the Writers Guild of America ruled that he should share credit with Turner, whose script Reitman claimed to have never read. He and Turner later appeared at a WGA event where both said they were happy to share credit, after Turner's contribution to the final product had been made clear.[16][17] At a press screening, Reitman also said that his father Ivan had written "the best line in the movie."[18]

"I think that the book is to the movie what a piece of paper is to a paper airplane," Kirn said in an interview. "He took this story and he folded it and re-folded it and he transformed it in a way that I completely recognize my own impulsive writing in. But when I sat down to see it, I was not only honored and delighted but surprised by the transformations that had taken place in my own material and some of the potentials that I left untapped."[14]


Though Reitman has claimed in countless interviews that he wrote the parts specifically for George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, Anna Kendrick, Jason Bateman, Danny McBride, Melanie Lynskey, Amy Morton, Sam Elliott and Zach Galifianakis,[19][20] some of his actors have publicly stated their confusion in Reitman's assertion, if only because they knew he was meeting other actors all along including for his choice to fill his last lead role with Ellen Page for the part that Kendrick ended up ultimately playing.[21] On the part played by Farmiga, he cited her ability to walk a fine line between aggressiveness and femininity. On Kendrick, Reitman cited that he was inspired by her performance in Rocket Science. On Clooney, he said, "If you're going to make a movie about a guy who fires people for a living and you still want to like him, that actor better be damn charming and I don't think there’s a more charming actor alive than George Clooney. I was very lucky he said yes."[9] Reitman said, on the B.S. Report with Bill Simmons, that he considered Steve Martin for Clooney's role if Clooney did not accept the role. Reitman said that he would have changed the movie with Martin and given Martin "his Lost in Translation."[22][23]

Approximately 4,600 people signed up for the chance to be an extra in the film during the open call on January 24, 2009 and January 25, 2009 at Crestwood Court in St. Louis, Missouri.[8] Up in the Air cast 2,000 extras[24] with 15 to 25 Missouri actors in minor speaking roles. About 250 extras were used from the Omaha, Nebraska, area. They were used for filming inside and outside the terminal at Eppley Airfield, while Clooney shot most of his scenes inside the terminal.[25]

While shooting the film in St. Louis and Detroit, Reitman placed an ad in the paper asking if people who recently lost their job wanted to be in a documentary about job loss. He specified "documentary" in the ad so actors who wanted to be in the production would not answer the ad. Reitman was amazed by how many people of different age, race, and gender were willing to speak frankly about what happened and what a cathartic experience it was for these people.[26] They received a startling amount of responses with 100 responses, 60 people on camera (30 in Detroit and 30 in St. Louis).[27] Twenty-two made it into the film.[5] They interviewed them for about ten minutes on what it is like to lose their job in this kind of economy and after that they would "fire" them on camera and ask them to either respond the way they did the day they lost their job or if they preferred the way they wished they had responded.[14][28][29]


Filming was mostly done in the St. Louis area. Several scenes were also filmed at the Berry and McNamara Terminals at Detroit Metro Airport in late February 2009[30][31][32] with minimal filming in Omaha, Nebraska, in Las Vegas, Nevada[33] and in Miami, Florida.[34]

Missouri and St. Louis leaders provided about $4 million in tax credits for the $25 million film. Producers set up a St. Louis, Missouri production office January 5, 2009.[35] Filming began in St. Louis on March 3, 2009 and continued through the end of April.[8] The film includes 80 different sets at 50 locations throughout the St. Louis area, including Lambert-St. Louis International Airport Concourse C and Concourse D[35][36] (which played the part of several airports around the country), the Mansion House apartments in downtown St. Louis,[24] Hilton St. Louis at the Ballpark, Hilton St. Louis Airport,[37], the Cheshire Inn, the GenAmerica building, Renaissance Grand Hotel, Maplewood United Methodist Church and Affton High School.[38] The film was shot at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport for five days, twenty hours each day.[39]

Crews for Up in the Air scouted locations in Omaha, Nebraska for three days of filming in late April with Clooney.[40][41] Some of the scenes were shot inside the Visitor's Bureau and in a condo in the Old Market area of downtown Omaha[42] and at the south end of the main terminal at Eppley Airfield.[25]

Reitman needed fifty days to film Up in the Air, eight of which were devoted to aerial shooting. The aerial shots turned out to be more difficult than he had expected. He was unable to use three days of the aerial filming. Many of the aerial shots, such as the crop circle on fire, are featured in the trailer but are not used in the film. The pilot who flies the Boeing 747 that carries the space shuttle flew the aircraft used for the aerial shots.[19][20]

The film features heavy product placement, with American Airlines, Chrysler, Hertz, Travelpro, and Hilton Hotels all featured prominently.[43][44] Competing brands are displayed only as blurs in scene backgrounds or are replaced with pseudonyms in dialogue.


The post-production schedule for Up in the Air was shorter than Jason Reitman's previous two films. The editing team only had a 16 or 17 week post schedule, whereas the normal post schedule is anywhere from 22 to 26 weeks. On Juno, they shot through the second week of April. On Up in the Air they shot through the middle of May. Fortunately for the schedule, Reitman was involved in post-production while he was shooting as well. The film was shot entirely on location and Glauberman stayed in L.A. to cut. She would send him scenes every day or every other day as she finished them, and he would take a look at them. He flew home every weekend to work with her for a few hours on Saturdays or Sundays. That was the only way they were able to stay on schedule.[45]

Editing helped determine of how nonverbal moments shape the first meeting between Ryan and Alex, who become lovers. "In a scene like that, there is a sort of playfulness that goes on," editor, Dana E. Glauberman said. "There were little looks that they gave each other. Sometimes I stayed a beat longer on a take to get that little sparkle in their eyes. ... You can see a lot of playfulness in the quick cuts back and forth when they are teasing each other, but then there are also certain moments that Vera would give a little raise of an eyebrow, or George would give the same thing. Those tiny nuances are really helpful to show their character and show what they are after."[46]


The score to Up in the Air was composed by Rolfe Kent, who recorded his score with a 55-piece ensemble of the Hollywood Studio Symphony at the Sony Scoring Stage.[47]

Reitman says the soundtrack is like a character in the film. "I start thinking about the music very early on. While I'm writing the script, I'm putting together a matching iTunes library. The result is a collection of songs that speaks to the nature of travel and warmth of human connection."[48]

The St. Louis based band, Yukon Jake, is featured for 30 seconds in the movie's wedding scene.[49][50]

Reitman asked Chicago-based musician Sad Brad Smith to compose a song for the film after hearing him play in a Chicago coffee shop. Smith's song "Help Yourself" is featured during a pivotal wedding scene in the film.[51]

Kevin Renick wrote the song "Up in the Air" two years prior to knowing that Reitman was working on a film adaptation to the book.[52] He was recently laid off at the time, and is an unrecorded, unemployed St. Louis musician. When Renick researched the film he discovered that the theme of the film was much the same as the song he had written. "The song is about uncertainty, disconnection and loneliness, while alluding to career transition," Renick explained. "It's a melancholy song, and a narrative about finding out where your life's going to go."[53] He handed a cassette to Reitman after the director did a Q&A at Webster University. Renick included a spoken-word introduction about the song on the cassette so that Reitman would know why he was giving the song to him. Reitman found a tape deck, listened, liked the song and placed the original introduction and song from the cassette midway through the credits. Reitman stated that the song has a do-it-yourself authenticity.[48][54][55][56][57]

Both "Help Yourself" and "Up in the Air" were not eligible for consideration for the Academy Award for Best Original Song. Portions of Smith's song existed as part of previous songs he wrote and Renick wrote the song before he met Reitman.[58]

Up In The Air soundtrack tracklist[59]

  1. "This Land Is Your Land" - Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings[60]
  2. "Security Ballet" - Rolfe Kent
  3. "Goin' Home" - Dan Auerbach
  4. "Taken at All" - Crosby, Stills & Nash
  5. "Angel in the Snow" - Elliott Smith
  6. "Help Yourself" - Sad Brad Smith
  7. "Genova" - Charles Atlas
  8. "Lost in Detroit" - Rolfe Kent
  9. "Thank You Lord" - Roy Buchanan
  10. "Be Yourself" (1971 Demo) - Graham Nash
  11. "The Snow Before Us" - Charles Atlas
  12. "Up in the Air" - Kevin Renick



Kendrick at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival for a panel on the film

Jason Reitman has heavily promoted Up in the Air with personal appearances during film festivals and other showings. He indicated that he could relate to that lifestyle of the lead character, Ryan Bingham, and he enjoys it himself. "Yesterday [October 28, 2009] I took my 10th flight in 10 days so I live that life myself and I kinda enjoy it," Reitman said, "I think when you're in an airplane it's the last refuge for the people who enjoy being alone and reading a book."[61]

Reitman documented his experiences promoting the film. He took photos of everyone who interviewed him and recorded videos in each and every city he visited. He edited these images together into a short video titled "Lost In The Air: The Jason Reitman Press Tour Simulator".[62]

Up in the Air was screened as a "sneak preview" at the Telluride Film Festival on September 6, 2009, before its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 12.[63][64][65][66] The film was initially not scheduled to be completed for another three months, but Reitman rushed production in order to maintain a streak of debuting his films at TIFF.[67]

During October and November 2009, Up in the Air screened at festivals including the Aspen Filmfest[68], the Woodstock Film Festival[69], the Hamptons International Film Festival[70], the Mill Valley Film Festival[71], the Austin Film Festival[61], the London Film Festival[72], the St. Louis International Film Festival[52][49], the Starz Denver Film Festival[73], and the Stockholm International Film Festival[74] . It was the only American film to compete for the Golden Marc'Aurelio Audience Award for Best Film at the International Rome Film Festival.[75][76] On November 6, New York Times film critic Janet Maslin interviewed Reitman and Kirn at the Jacob Burns Film Center following a screening of the film.[77]

Following the positive response the film received at the Telluride Film Festival, Paramount intended to move Up in the Air from its original release date of December 4, 2009, planning for a November 13 limited release going wide before the Thanksgiving holiday.[78][79] However, this schedule conflicted with the release of The Men Who Stare at Goats, another Clooney film.[80][81] The film was eventually released on December 4 in fifteen theaters spanning twelve markets, broadening in the next week to 72 theaters and going into wide release on December 23, 2009.[82][83][84] It was released in other countries beginning in early 2010.[85]

September 2009

Up in the Air was shown at a sneak preview on September 5, 2009 and September 6, 2009 at the Telluride Film Festival.[86][87] Reitman had fueled speculation that he would give a sneak preview at that festival.[88] He posted pictures from Telluride on his Twitter account.[89] Prior to the first showing, people waited for two hours to get into Up in the Air. Hundreds were turned away.[90]

The world premiere for Up in the Air occurred at this year's Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) which ran from September 10 to 19, 2009.[91][92] The press showing was on Friday September 11, 2009.[93][94] Public screenings were Saturday September 12 06:00PM, Sunday September 13 11:00AM and Saturday September 19 06:30PM.[95] Reitman originally did not plan to debut the film at TIFF, since it was not scheduled to be ready for another three months. He rushed production so he could keep his Toronto debut streak going.[67]

The first clip of the film debuted on Apple Inc. website on September 8, 2009.[96] The first trailer became available on iTunes on September 10, 2009 and on September 18, 2009 it screened before the new movies The Informant! and Love Happens.[97] The second trailer became available on October 1, 2009.[98][99]

October 2009

Reitman received Aspen Film's first New Directions Award and participated in a question and answer session following a 6 pm screening of Up in the Air on Friday October 2, 2009 at the Wheeler Opera House. The Aspen Filmfest runs from September 30, 2009 through October 4, 2009.[100][101][102] It was shown twice at the Tinker Street Cinema on the closing day of the Tenth Annual Woodstock Film Festival 2009 on October 4, 2009. Vera Farmiga and Lucy Liu participated in a question and answer session moderated by entertainment journalist Martha Frankel after the film and in the Sunday noontime WFF Actor’s Dialogue panel.[103][104][105][106] The 2009 Hamptons International Film Festival showed Up in the Air on October 10, 2009 during its run at Long Island, New York’s east end October 8–12, 2009.[107][108]

The Spotlight Tribute held during the 32nd edition of Mill Valley Film Festival hosted an interview with Reitman and a screening of Up in the Air on Wednesday October 14, 2009 at 6:30 PM in the Smith Rafael Film Center, San Rafael, California. The Mill Valley Film Festival ran from October 8–18, 2009.[109] It was also shown four times at the 53rd London Film Festival which was held from October 14–19, 2009.[110][111] Up in the Air was the only American film to compete for the Golden Marc'Aurelio Audience Award for Best Film at the fourth annual International Rome Film Festival which ran October 15–23, 2009. It was shown three times October 17–19, 2009.[112][113][114][115] Reitman showed Up in the Air at ShowEast in Orlando, Florida on October 26-27, 2009 and asked for the movie theater owners and managers to support the picture as fervently as they did his film Juno two years ago. Reitman also held a Q & A and pep talk with film students at the University of Central Florida.[116][117]

The first St. Louis press screening happened on October 28, 2009 at the Tivoli Theater.[118] Up in the Air, closed the Austin Film Festival on October 29, 2009 at the Paramount. Reitman attended the screening. The Austin Film Festival ran from October 22–29, 2009.[61][119][120] The Palm Springs International Film Society showed Up in the Air at 7 p.m. Thursday, October 29, 2009 at the Regal Cinemas in Palm Springs, California. Anna Kendrick was present at the showing.[121][122]

November 2009

Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick hosted a screening of Up in the Air at the Paris theatre, New York, New York on Thursday, November 5, 2009.[123][124] On November 6, 2009 at 7:00 pm the New York City Apple Store in SoHo hosted a conversation with director Jason Reitman.[125] On November 6, 2009 New York Times critic Janet Maslin interviewed Reitman and Kirn during a question and answer session which was held at the Jacob Burns Film Center after a screening of Up in the Air. The question and answer session was followed by a reception in the Jane Peck gallery.[126] The Boston Sunday Night Film Club had a free screening on Sunday, November 8, 2009 with a Q&A session with Reitman following the screening.[127]

Up in the Air was the centerpiece for the 18th Annual St. Louis International Film Festival, which was held November 12–22, 2009. It was shown November 14, 2009 at 7:00 pm at the Tivoli Theater in University City, Missouri with Jason Reitman and Michael Beugg in attendance.[128][129][130] Kevin Renick, a St. Louis musician who wrote the song Up in the Air, performed half an hour prior to the screening.[52] Yukon Jake, who performed during the wedding scene in Up in the Air, provided entertainment during the party held prior to the screening. The party took place at the St. Louis Ballpark Hilton and the Airport Hilton. Both are featured in the film.[49][131]

On November 14, 2009, Paramount flew 50 members of the press to New York with Anna Kendrick, Sad Brad Smith and representatives of American Airlines to promote Up in the Air. The film was shown on the aircraft's video monitors during the flight from New York to Los Angeles. American Airlines provided the Boeing 767 gratis. Smith performed a few songs including Help Yourself in the aisle of the aircraft.[132][133][134] On November 18, 2009 at 7 pm Back Stage and Paramount Pictures had a special screening of Up in the Air for Screen Actors Guild and Back Stage members at The Paramount Theatre (on the Paramount Lot), Los Angeles, California. The screening of the film was followed by a conversation with the cast members Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick.[135] The Starz Denver Film Festival closed on November 22, 2009 with a screening of Up in the Air with an introduction by J.K. Simmons, who was in town to accept the fest's Cassavetes award earlier that afternoon.[136] The 20th Stockholm International Film Festival which ran November 18-29, 2009 closed with a screening of Up in the Air on November 29, 2009.[137]

Box office

The film was first released in only 15 theaters in the U.S. and ranked No. 13. It took in $1,181,450, with $78,763 per theater. After three days it expanded to 72 theaters and took in $2,394,344—$33,255 per theater, during the second weekend.[138] During its third weekend, it broke into the top 10 as it widened to 175 theaters ahead of its nationwide expansion on December 23, 2009. It came in at No. 8 with $3,210,132—$18,344 per theater.[139] The film expanded to 1,895 theaters on December 23, and has come to a total domestic gross of $83,465,355 and a worldwide gross of $158,365,355.[4]

Home media releases

The film was released in both DVD and Blu-ray disc formats on March 9, 2010.[140]


General response

The film received generally positive reviews from film critics. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 90% of 235 critics have given the film a positive review, with a rating average of 8.1 out of 10. The site's general consensus is that "Led by charismatic performances by its three leads, director Jason Reitman delivers a smart blend of humor and emotion with just enough edge for mainstream audiences."[141] Among Rotten Tomatoes' "Top Critics", which consists of popular and notable critics from the top newspapers, websites, television and radio programs, the film holds an overall approval rating of 92%, based on a sample of 37 reviews.[142] Metacritic, which assigns a weighted mean rating out of 100 to reviews from film critics, has a rating score of 83 based on 36 reviews.[143] The sneak preview of Up in the Air was the highest profile hit during the Telluride film festival.[144] Reviews have been generally positive.[145] The film also tied for third place in the Toronto International Film Festival indieWire poll.[146]

Excerpted reviews

Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times wrote, "Up in the Air makes it look easy. Not just in its casual and apparently effortless excellence, but in its ability to blend entertainment and insight, comedy and poignancy, even drama and reality, things that are difficult by themselves but a whole lot harder in combination. This film does all that and never seems to break a sweat."[147] Entertainment Weekly's Owen Gleiberman agreed, rating the film an A as a "rare and sparkling gem of a movie, directed by Jason Reitman with the polish of a master."[148]

Claudia Puig of USA Today praised the film's sense of timeliness, writing, "It's tough to capture an era while it's still happening, yet Up in the Air does so brilliantly, with wit and humanity...Reitman emerges as a modern-day Frank Capra, capturing the nation's anxieties and culture of resilience."[149] Stephen Saito of wrote, "[I]t touches on larger themes of mass unemployment, cultural alienation and technology as a crutch. But ultimately, it's really an expertly done character study that's a dramatic change of pace from director Jason Reitman's previous two films."[150] Jonathan Romney of The Independent wrote "[I]ts cynical wit almost places it in the Billy Wilder bracket: Up In The Air is as eloquent about today's executive culture as The Apartment was about that of 1960. It is a brutal, desolate film – but also a superb existential rom-com, and the most entertaining lesson in contemporary socio-economics that you could hope for."[151]

Calling the film "a slickly engaging piece of lightweight existentialism," Todd McCarthy wrote in Variety that "Clooney owns his role in the way first-rate film stars can, so infusing the character with his own persona that everything he does seems natural and right. The timing in the Clooney-Farmiga scenes is like splendid tennis."[7] The New York Times' Manohla Dargis especially appreciated the film's strong female roles, noting that "[t]he ferocious Ms. Kendrick, her ponytail swinging like an ax, grabs every scene she's in," but wrote that the film "is an assertively, and unapologetically, tidy package, from its use of romance to instill some drama...and the mope-rock tunes that Mr. Reitman needlessly overuses."[152]

The Chicago Tribune's Michael Phillips wrote, "Up in the Air is a slickly crafted disappointment. [It] feels tailor-made for George Clooney, who is very good. But the stakes remain frustratingly low and it's one of those contemporary middlebrow projects that asks us to root for a genial, shallow individual as he learns to be a little less the man he was."[153] Julian Sancton of Vanity Fair wrote, "There are two movies in Up in the Air: one about a guy who's flying around the country firing people, and one about a commitment-phobe who's flying away from responsibility and a shot at true love, as embodied by Farmiga. There is no attempt to braid these two threads together, and that's where the movie feels unsatisfying."[154] J. Hoberman of The Village Voice wrote, "Like Juno, Up in the Air conjures a troubling reality and then wishes it away. The filmmakers have peeked into the abyss and averted their eyes...[the film] warns that you can't go home again—and then, full of false cheer and false consciousness, pretends you can."[155]

Shave Magazine's Jake Tomlinson wrote that "There is a very strong sense of humor as well as emotional depth, yet the scope of the film sometimes limits these sentiments. As a moviegoer, this film provides a satisfying experience where one can take a step back to ponder some of the finer points in our daily lives, but don't expect to find all the answers here. 4 out of 5 stars."[156]

Awards and honors


  1. ^ "Up in the Air: Credits". Paramount. Retrieved 2009-09-05. 
  2. ^ Abramowitz, Rachel (2009-11-29). "Jason Reitman firmly at the controls in 'Up in the Air'". Los Angeles Times.,0,3566742.story. Retrieved 2009-11-29. 
  3. ^ Schuker, Lauren A.E. (2009-11-27). "Director Jason Reitman on 'Up in the Air'". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2009-11-29. 
  4. ^ a b "Up in the Air (2009) Box Office". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2010-03-16. 
  5. ^ a b ""Up in the Air" End Title Credits". Paramount. Retrieved 2009-12-11. 
  6. ^ Rubin, Ann (2008-12-12). "George Clooney to film next movie in St. Louis". KSDK. Retrieved 2008-12-29. 
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