With a job traveling around the country firing people, Ryan Bingham enjoys his life living out of a suitcase, but finds that lifestyle threatened by the presence of a new hire and a potential love interest.
Based On Novel
DTS, Dolby Digital, SDDS
Has Detailed Data (New)
1, 2, 3
The story of a man ready to make a connection.
Canada:108 min (Toronto International Film Festival)
1.85 : 1
Rated R for language and some sexual content.
Suitcase, Downsizing, Business, Travel, Airport
Has Detailed Data (New)
US Box Office
Country Of Origin
Up in the Air is a 2009 American comedy-drama film directed by Jason Reitman and co-written by Reitman and Sheldon Turner. It is a film adaptation of the 2001 novel of the same name, written by Walter Kirn. The story is centered on corporate "downsizer" Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) and his travels. The film follows his isolated life and philosophies and the people he meets along the way. Filming was primarily in St. Louis, Missouri, which substituted for a number of other cities. Several scenes were filmed in Detroit, Omaha, Nebraska, Las Vegas, and Miami.
Profile Bio Text
Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) works for the Career Transitions Corporation (CTC). He makes his living traveling to workplaces around the United States and informing workers of their dismissals in place of their employers, who fear doing it themselves. Ryan also delivers motivational speeches, using the metaphor "What's In Your Backpack?" to extol the virtues of a life free of burdens like relationships with people as well as things, arguing that the best way to live is to travel light, with little to hold one down.
Ryan relishes his perpetual travels. Already entitled to Concierge Key program by American Airlines,his personal ambition is to earn ten million frequent flyer miles. While traveling, he meets another frequent flyer, Alex (Vera Farmiga). They begin a casual relationship, meeting whenever they can arrange to cross paths.
Ryan is unexpectedly called back to CTC's offices in Omaha, Nebraska. An ambitious, freshly graduated new hire, Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick), is promoting a plan to cut costs by conducting layoffs via videoconferencing. Ryan argues that Natalie knows nothing about the actual process, live or not, as she has never fired anyone and does not know how to handle upset people. He plays the role of a fired employee to show her inexperience. His boss (Jason Bateman) assigns him to take Natalie with him on his next round of terminations, much to his annoyance. Throughout the rounds, Natalie is visibly disturbed by firing people face to face.
As they travel together and become better acquainted, Natalie questions Ryan's philosophy, but he is satisfied with his lifestyle. During the trip, Natalie is shattered when her boyfriend unceremoniously dumps her by text message. Ryan and Alex try to comfort her. Natalie later lectures Ryan about his refusal to consider a commitment to Alex in spite of their obvious compatibility, and becomes infuriated; she apologizes later, but soon afterwards they are ordered back to Omaha to begin implementing Natalie's program. There are problems during a test run; one laid-off man breaks down in tears before the camera, and she is unable to comfort him.
Instead of returning immediately to Omaha, Ryan convinces Alex to accompany him to his younger sister Julie's (Melanie Lynskey) wedding near Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Julie had him (and others) take photos of a cutout picture of her and future husband Jim (Danny McBride) in various places because they cannot afford a honeymoon trip. When Jim gets cold feet, Ryan's older sister talks Ryan into using his motivational skills to persuade Jim to go through with it. Although this runs counter to Ryan's personal philosophy of non-commitment, he persuades Jim that "everyone needs a co-pilot" and the important moments in life are rarely unshared. The wedding takes place without any further problems.
Ryan begins having second thoughts about his own life. As he starts to deliver his "What's In Your Backpack?" speech at a convention in Las Vegas, he realizes he no longer believes it and walks off the stage. On an impulse, he flies to Alex's home in Chicago, Illinois. When she opens the door, he is stunned to discover she is a married woman with children; Ryan leaves without saying a word. She later tells him on the phone that her family is her real life and he is simply an escape. When she asks him what he wants out of their relationship, he is unable to answer.
On his flight home, the crew announces that Ryan has just crossed the ten-million-mile mark. The airline's chief pilot (Sam Elliott) comes out of the cockpit to meet Ryan. He notes that Ryan is the youngest person to reach the milestone; Ryan, who had been preparing for that moment for a long time, shows little emotion.
Back in his office, Ryan calls the airline to transfer five hundred thousand miles each to the newlyweds, enough for them to fly around the world for their honeymoon. His boss then tells Ryan that a woman he and Natalie fired has killed herself by jumping off a bridge, just as she warned them she would, and that when Natalie found out, she quit via text message. Ryan claims to have no memory of the employee making this threat. The company puts the remote-layoff program on hold because of government concerns, and Ryan is once again "back on the road".
Natalie applies for a job in San Francisco, California. The interviewer is puzzled as to why she chose to work for CTC, given her sterling qualifications; she tells him she followed a boy. Based on a glowing recommendation from Ryan, he hires her. The film concludes with Ryan standing in front of a vast destination board, looking up, and letting go of his luggage.
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