Up in the Air

  • Review Date: December 3, 2009
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2009
  • Running Time: 109 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Adult dramedy taps into emotions of current tough times.
  • Review Date: December 3, 2009
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2009
  • Running Time: 109 minutes

Age(i)

2
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4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
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16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The movie brings a fresh perspective to the cliched but true lesson that no man (or woman) is an island. It suggests that in these challenging times, connection may just be the way to survive.

Positive role models

Main character Ryan is a decent man trying to do a very difficult job: firing people. Though he can’t do much to help them, he displays unusual empathy for their situation. That said, he’s a pretty isolated guy, proudly unrooted. But he discovers that he needs more in his life and sets out to get it -- as well as give to others. A colleague tries to do her job well, too, but she forgets that efficiency can’t replace humanity. Another character appears to be sympathetic, but she’s complicated: married and constricted by that commitment.

Violence

A man is briefly shown toting a firearm in an imaginary sequence. Workers who’ve been fired curse and talk about killing themselves; one tosses a chair around in frustration.

Sex

A woman is briefly shown naked from behind, with nothing on but a necktie wrapped around her waist. She and her lover kiss and tussle in bed. They also talk about sex fairly candidly and send each other suggestive messages -- overall, they're shown teasing and bantering more often than having sex. A married character cheats on her husband; another is left by her boyfriend.

Language

Fairly frequent use of everything from “a--hole” to “s--t” to “f--k," as well as "ass," "hell," "crap," "prick," and "oh my God."

Consumerism

American Airlines feels like a “proud sponsor” of the film since its logo is visible nearly every time the main character has to travel. Many other logos and brands associated with business travel also pop up throughout the movie, including Hilton, Hertz, and Marriott.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Social drinking at bars and parties; at one point, a group of revelers is happily intoxicated. A few tiny bottles of liquor are shown tucked in one character’s fridge.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that director Jason Reitman's thoughtful drama about a man (played by George Clooney) who fires people for a living (criss-crossing the country by plane to do so) examines uncomfortable, grown-up truths both timely (unemployment, financial stress) and perennial -- family dysfunction and loneliness. Still, despite its heavy themes, strong language (including "s--t" and "f--k"), and some sexual interplay between characters (including brief rear nudity), it has enormous empathy and insight that may resonate with older teens who are trying to grapple with and understand increasingly complex issues.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) has a dream: To be the seventh person ever to accumulate 10 million frequent-flier miles. And he’s not far off. He spends 270 days a year in the air; airports and planes and hotels are home to him. When he’s not on the motivational circuit, extolling the virtues of carrying a lightly packed symbolic backpack -- both objects and people can weigh you down, you see -- he’s zigzagging the country to assist companies in firing their workers. And amazingly, he does it with more than a modicum of empathy and soul. But a young upstart (Twilight supporting player Anna Kendrick) is convinced that the process can be mechanized -- which could ground Bingham short of his goal, take him away from another business traveler (Vera Farmiga) he’s fallen in love with, and make him examine what -- and where -- is really home.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

UP IN THE AIR is by no means perfect. To start, it hits screenplay mileposts a little too on the nose, like an A student raising his hand for yet another crack at an answer we know he'll get. And yet it takes us to places we never quite expect. It’s irreverent when we think it will be serious; serious when we think it will go for laughs. It’s surprising -- and that doesn’t happen often in the movies these days.

Based on a bestselling novel by Walter Kirn, Jason Reitman's film is literary without being self-consciously so. Clooney delivers perhaps his best performance yet, with more nuance and less reliance on his usual tics (the downcast looks, the easy smile). The vulnerability he displays with Farmiga, a worthy female counterpart, convinces but doesn’t overplay. Bingham's journey is one we’ve all found ourselves on: how to connect in a world that makes it so easy to be within reach, yet so hard to reach out, even to family. It also captures these challenging times, when jobs and, yes, people seem expendable. And yet, they’re not: The film gives them a voice, one downsized worker at a time.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about Bingham’s job: Is it a difficult one? Does he enjoy it? Why does he seem committed to doing it? Does it make him a bad guy or good? What about Natalie, his colleague?

  • How does the movie capture a particular moment in history? Does it seem realistic, or has it been Hollywood-ized?

  • Who do you think the movie is trying to reach? Does it succeed?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:December 4, 2009
DVD release date:March 9, 2010
Cast:Anna Kendrick, George Clooney, Vera Farmiga
Director:Jason Reitman
Studio:Paramount Pictures
Genre:Drama
Run time:109 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:language and some sexual content

This review of Up in the Air was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Adult Written byScoobysnacks_8371 February 4, 2010
AGE
17
QUALITY
 
You know for those of you that believe it doesn't deserve an R rating let's go ahead and let some naked woman walk through your living room with your kids and husband sitting there, then what would you do??!! I consider any movie that has nudity porno! I bet it would be total different if it was a man naked walking around in the movie! It's pretty bad when movies now days can't keep nakedness out of it! I mean really why do we have to see people have sex to enjoy a comedy movie? it's so stupid me and my husband are so tired of this!
What other families should know
Too much sex
Teen, 14 years old Written byMaWalker66 April 22, 2014
AGE
12
QUALITY
 

Decent Movie, A little disapointing

maturity: Violence: Absolutely none, only talks of it (PG) Sex: Sexual talk, implied sex, and brief nudity(butt) (Barely R) Swearing: Not too bad about 25 F Words(R) Quality Acting: Great, all those award nominations were well deserved Interesting: No, it can get boring at times Overall: Good, but not great I thought this would be the best George Clooney movie(so far I haven't love any of his movies, my favorite is the descendants and I want to see ocean's eleven) nut it was pretty disappointing. It is not that mature(12 and up)
Teen, 17 years old Written byBestPicture1996 January 10, 2014
AGE
16
QUALITY
 

Mature dramedy with relevant themes

I was worried the first 10 minutes that "UITA" would be a bit of a snoozer, but the action really kicked in when Anna Kendrick's character came in, a symbol of coming change for Clooney's Bingham, so set in his flight-bound ways of avoiding his family, and his adopted attitude of never wanting to be anchored down. The film never peaked, it just kept getting better and better, and as a hopeful writer the script is inspirational, hitting at all the right times of messages of moving on, relationships, change, without hitting you over the head with it. Kendrick really held her own against Clooney in their quid pro quo sessions of ushering in new methods to firing folks, and naturally Clooney was superb as someone who mirrors his own lifestyle.
What other families should know
Too much swearing

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