Randy Petersen Reviews “Up in the Air”

Last night I finally got to see Up in the Air. Work events had gotten in the way of my seeing a media screening weeks ago, and a sneak preview the other night. So I went to see it on its first official release day. Only one theatre here in DC has it so far, AMC iN Georgetown. So it was off to the 7pm showing after work.

I really enjoyed the movie, but won’t do it nearly the justice as Randy‘s mostly spon-on review. Randy’s bottom-line:

Let me make one thing clear to my fellow flyers who will flock to see this film: In the hopes of identifying with the nuances of elite cards, pursuit of miles and “That’s me!” moments, you may be missing some very good entertainment. So, see it once for yourself and see it again for the story line because this one will surely have the Oscar buzz!

Here’s where I part company with Randy:

the true stars of this film might be the real-life interviewees who have lost their jobs. That element of the story will surely strike a chord with sympathetic audiences.

I actually found the interviews with ‘regular folks’ laid off from their jobs to be overwrought. It was a Hollywood attempt to make the movie more ‘real’ and ‘relevant’. And I thought the movie was otherwise better than that. It accomplished its goals within its own storyline and the actors pulled off the story on their own merits. It wasn’t necessary to go outside of the characters to get empathy for casualties of recession and downsizing. To me it cheapened the film and distracted from the characters and narrative. But this is a minor complaint, actually, because George Clooney’s Ryan Bingham does such an amazing job, and the rest of the cast carries off their roles amazingly as well.

Ok, I agree with Randy that Sam Elliott wasn’t really spot on as American’s chief pilot, but this was a bit role and I felt the real failing here was Clooney’s character who, in the depths of introspection about his life and having reached his major obsessive goal, can’t even muster the charm and wit to enjoy it if only for a moment.

One small frequent traveler spoiler, courtesy of Randy:

One of the most cringing parts of the movie from the eyes of the road warrior is when Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) returns to Chicago unsuspectingly to surprise his elite status loving love interest and uses the Hertz #1 Club Gold. He appears to use the service but yet when driving away from the Hertz lot in the snow, the Hertz rental agent in the lot raises his clipboard and yells “You forgot to give me your Hertz #1 Club Gold card number.” I wanted to stand up and yell, “It’s in the members rez profile dummy, how do you expect he was able to use the #1 Club anyway.”

Me, I was disappointed not to see Clooney benefit from his American Airlines Concierge Key status. I loved his arrogance as he checked into a hotel skipping the queue, handing the angered customer otherwise at the front of the line an HHonors membership application and suggesting she join. If only those desks were more consistently staffed. But the theatre erupted uproariously when Bingham was denied elite checkin at a small regional chain in upstate Wisconsin with which he had no status.

Two key lines that I loved:

  • To know me is to fly with me
  • 322 Days on the road, 43 miserable days at home

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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