Sunday, December 13, 2009

Movie Review: Up In The Air

Up in the Air is a must see movie for everyone, but especially for those of us who have lived the life of the road warrior. You know who you are - someone who has ever had a wallet full of gold and platinum frequent flyer cards, Hertz Gold Membership and knows at least one flight attendant by their first name. I have been a road warrior many times in my career - for one year at the phone company, as Corporate Manager of Learning and training, I went to all 52 of our subsidiary companies- many more than once - in 37 states (this included one crazy drive from Miami to Statesboro Georgia). I was gold on five airlines that year. And one year for 5 months I commuted weekly between Dallas and Atlanta, before I finally moved to Atlanta. Every Friday night I got on the same flight home to Dallas, where I was greeted by name by flight attendants who would, on occasion, upgrade me themselves to first class for the ride home. Yes, I was a road warrior.

George Clooney's Ryan Bingham is the ultimate road warrior - on the road some 300+ days per year he is an American Airlines/Hilton Hotels/ Hertz Gold club member. He is a corporate terminator, going from city and city to carry out layoffs. The use of real laid off people and their reactions in the film is touching and heartbreaking. Ryan's primary interactions in the movie are a fellow road warrior, a woman named Alex(Vera Farmiga) who he romances across the country in places as diverse as Miami, Vegas and Wisconsin. His other companion, a fellow terminator named Natalie played by Anna Kendrick, travels along as a woman who is seeking to automate and remove the personal touch from the layoff process.

This movie resonates in many ways. The reactions of the people who are laid off are devastating. Ryan's romance with Alex is captivating. Clooney and Farmiga have a wonderful chemistry. And the trio's experience at a conference resonated with me as someone who has been to my share of tradeshows. I've even been on the yacht ride in Miami Beach just like the one in the movie.I strongly recommend this movie, be prepared for the unexpected twists and turns and enjoy the frequent flyer miles.

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