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Terry's Takes

Movie review: Up in the Air

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George Clooney stars in the new comedy-drama, "Up in the Air," one of the most entertaining films of the year.

"Up in the Air" is the real deal: a witty, insightful comedy with solid dramatic impact. The smart screenplay, creative cinematography, and polished editing perfectly complement the winning performance of George Clooney as a man whose job is to fly all over the country...firing people.

"To know me is to fly with me," we hear his character say in voice over. "This is where I live. Last year I spent 322 days on the road. I flew 350,000 miles. The moon is 250. All the things you probably hate about traveling are warm reminders that I am home."

Clooney plays Ryan Bingham, a very frequent flyer who with a real aversion to commitment of any kind.

"I work for a company that lends me out to cowards that don't have the courage to sack their own employees, and for good reason, because people do crazy stuff when they get fired."

Most people would have contempt for a guy like Ryan, but Clooney's charm makes him likable. He doesn't really like his job, but it allows him to live without the human connections that he believes weigh other people down.

Make no mistake," Ryan says in the seminars he leads, "Moving is living."

So Ryan is delighted when he meets the sexy, sophisticated Alex Goran played by Vera Farmiga. Alex seems to be Ryan's female counterpart.

As they compare their airline and credit cards in an airport lounge, Alex grabs his "Concierge Key" card. "This is sexy," she tells Ryan. "We're two people who get turned on by elite status."

The other female who comes into his life is Anna Kendrick as Natalie Keener, a bright but naive Cornell graduate he's supposed to mentor. Natalie wonders why Ryan doesn't pursue Alex in a serious way. "It's simple," he tells her. "You know that moment when you look into somebody's eyes and you can feel them staring into your soul, and the whole world goes quiet, just for a second?"

"Yes," she replies.

"Well, I don't."

I was surprised and delighted by how touching this timely comedy-drama becomes when Ryan begins to question his cherished lifestyle. And I can truthfully say that I enjoyed "Up in the Air" more than any other film I saw this year.