Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Weeks Too Late: Up in the Air

Up in the Air. Directed by Jason Reitman. Written by Jason Reitman & Sheldon Turner.

: Ewww. An Oscar nominated romantic comedy? So that means it's going to be:

a. A romantic comedy of any kind (strike one).

b. An hour too long (strike two).

c. Have the jerky main character learn his lesson (strike three).

Why did I watch a movie I was so probably going to hate, you may ask. Well, I've enjoyed Jason Reitman's career immensely so far. By all reckoning I should have hated Juno...a lot, but I found it to be delightful. Reitman has earned some serious points with me. At this point I'm willing to be a puppy dog at his heels (well as far as checking out his movies goes, though he is pretty cute).

General Review
: So, once more I'm reviewing something a bit more than a few weeks too late. I'm going to justify myself by saying that this just came out on DVD recently. And it's a DVD well worth picking up.

Just about every time I started to groan "oh they're going to pull
that on me, are they?" I was proven wrong. It played with a lot of the conventions I've come to expect and despise. I spent most of the movie pleasantly surprised and genuinely not knowing how it was going to turn out.

It was a little longer than I think it needed to be, but not by a whole lot. With the exception of maybe needing to shave a bit of the second act the movie was very tight. And, unlike most romantic comedies I've seen, Up in the Air was actually funny. The characters were amusing and so were the cut aways to people's reaction to being fired.

My only real complaint is that Anna Kendrick's character petered out in the third act. She was quite a strong presence in the rest of it and then she's suddenly gone. There are a few bits about her in the deleted scenes, but even with them, it felt like the writer had suddenly gotten bored with her. Ehhh, and then she went away.

I think Jason Bateman has found quite a good niche in working with Reitman. And while I'm often not a huge George Clooney fan, when he's paired with a solid director (like when he works for the Cohen Brothers) I take back all the unkind things I've said about him.
I hope they both remain in Reitman's stable. I assumed since his character started off as an isolated jerk I'd like him for the first half of the movie and then grow less and less interested as he became a better person. This was not the case at all. And some of this was the strong writing, yes, but some of it was also Clooney.

Despite the many strikes against it (I wonder when Oscar movies started being ones I was certain I wouldn't like?) Up in the Air was worth seeing. It is joining, the few, the proud, the less than ten romantic comedies I actually enjoyed.

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