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Parents' Guide to

Up in the Air

By S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 17+

Adult dramedy taps into emotions of current tough times.

Movie R 2009 109 minutes
Up in the Air Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 14+

Based on 16 parent reviews

age 17+

Film Art or Victim Art?

This film presents real people who have been laid off and downsized. Seeing people relay their stories is why I gave the rating as high as I did. Seeing Ryan Bingham's character go through his existential crisis feels indulgent and self-serving. And at the end as a reward we see that he lets go of his suitcase in front of a departure/arrivals board and that somehow metaphorically that is him leaving everything behind and having a "fresh start." And what of all of those people he has dutifully laid off? Especially the real faces of US Americans struggling with the egregious burden of unemployment, especially in the face of so much alleged national prosperity. Up in the Air grounds itself with real people but then leaves them hanging. How do we hear about these stories ethically without toeing the line with victim art?
age 15+

Not worth the effort. Not a feel-good movie.

What a waste of time. A shallow film about a guy who realizes that his life is empty, but then does nothing to change it. Leaves you disappointed with the overall message that life is pointless, but it's not as bad when you have someone to share it with. Clooney jumps in bed with a fellow traveler only to find out later that it was meaningless and can go nowhere. A depressing movie about a guy who ends up alone.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (16 ):
Kids say (15 ):

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.

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