“Up In the Air”
 
Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) is the consummate frequent flier.  His job, on a purely contract basis, is to fly somewhere and tell other people that they’re out of a job.  He’s inured himself to it.  He doesn’t feel sorry for anyone.  He doesn’t care if they yell, hurl invectives, protest, argue, throw things, or cry.  He’s seen it all.  He’s perfect for what he does.  He’ll travel anywhere, he’ll handle things with efficiency and dispatch, and with just a modicum of compassion.  He has a really direct and sincere way of telling people that this is actually an opportunity for them to go and do what they’ve always wanted to do, and many of them accept that kind of “spin” on what would otherwise be purely traumatic and horrific.  He also assures them that he will available for further consultation, which is pure blarney.  He’ll never see them again. 
He’s a fastidious packer, never lugging around too much, never checking baggage.  Always stays in the Admirals Clubs at the airport, and always pre-arranges his car rentals.  He has no family, so he doesn’t worry about coming home often.  In fact, “home” is just an empty apartment in Omaha , where he occasionally stays when he needs to go to a meeting in the home office.  His boss (Jason Bateman) is mostly a voice over the phone, checking in with him occasionally, which suits him just fine, as does the lack of office routine.  The road is his office.
On occasion, he engages in a meaningless fling, but he has no significant relationships.  His parents are gone;  he has a couple of sisters, but he’s not close to them.  The fact that one of them is getting married soon, and he’ll have to show up, represents a schedule-trumping inconvenience. 
His big goal in life is to make the 10 million mile marker.  Few people have ever done it.  You get a special travel card, and a dedicated personal line to arrange your future travel.  And, you get to meet the head pilot of the whole airline.
We all know what’s going to happen.  Ryan Bingham’s perfect world is going to start getting some dinks in it (we’re set up the same way we were in “The Accidental Tourist”).  Bingham meets someone on the road (Vera Farmiga) who actually interests him.  Bingham is called to the home office in order to tutor a young “newbie” named Natalie (Anna Kendrick).  That’s routine-disturbing enough in itself, but she’s also proposing overhauling the whole system by replacing live agents with videoconferencing, which would eliminate the jobs of the terminators themselves.  And Bingham doesn’t get to just show up at the wedding, he actually has to try to talk a balky groom into not getting cold feet and bolting, an irony which is not lost on the bachelor brother or the jittery groom.
George Clooney is perfect for this role.  The others are very good additions.  This movie is perfectly cast, is chuckly-funny in a lot of unexpected places, and even boasts some plot twists.  It’s smart and stylish and even a little poignant.  “Up In The Air” definitely manages to get off the ground and fly.
 
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Pastor, Grace Presbyterian Church, Greenville , Texas