This gives me a chance to talk, briefly, about Up in the Air. I’m a big fan of Reitman’s movies, even though he’s apparently kind of a not-nice guy. Thank You For Smoking, for purely smart comedy, is one of my favorites of all time. And he deftly turned Diablo Cody’s wildly-clever-but-sometimes-grating script into a wildly-clever-and-only-occasionally-grating movie, Juno.
I thus had high expectations for Up , and immediately after my first viewing, was struck that it had met but not exceeded them (some veiled spoilers forthcoming, so stop if you’re gonna see the movie). The first 20-30 minutes are enjoyable but a little slow, the middle hour is a pure joy (Anna Kendrick should win an Oscar simply for her reaction to an unpleasant text message), and the last third has a predictable twist and an ending that leaves us with…nothing. We have Clooney not changing his ways, or going to back to his old ways, or devolving into a life of addiction, or achieving white collar nirvana, or anything. We just have no fucking clue where he’s going. I was left thinking, “So, what happens now?”
I’ll spare you the transformation in thinking (“Oh, wait, that’s the point?”), but I’m placing it at the top of my 2009 list along with “Up,” and “Inglorious Basterds,” in part on the strength of the ending. Apparently the book it’s based on has a twist ending, and when you consider what the movie would have liked with this ending, well, it ain’t pretty. Kudos, Jason.
As an aside, the handful of female viewers I’ve polled have all either not liked the movie, or just thought it was OK. I chalk this up to a) the fact that men would enjoy watching George Clooney take half an hour to down a black coffee and scone in Topeka, KS, and b) the “twist” at the end takes away some of the “strength” of Clooney’s female foil. But, hey, I’m not a gal, and would love to hear from the fairer sex on this very important topic.