A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
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 & Scariness
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.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
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.
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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."
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Products & Purchases
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.
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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. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.