It's hard to think of an actor who's better at projecting the professional smoothness that's essential to make this character palatable, but Clooney turns out to be willing to take that persona further.
Reitman possesses a flair for off-kilter scenarios, and he's in fine form again, taking his triangulated principals -- Ryan, Alex, Keener -- out of their comfort zones and into a more complicated geometry.
An assertively, and unapologetically, tidy package, from its use of romance to instill some drama into the narrative (the book introduces disease instead) and the mope-rock tunes that Mr. Reitman needlessly overuses.
It's a timely tale of job loss and economic upheaval, at times hidden behind screwball-comedy dialogue. And it isn't perfect, but when it works -- which is most of the time -- it works like gangbusters.
The film glides to a perfect landing, leaving several characters changed, one coldly untouched and nothing up in the air at all -- except, perhaps, the question of what this very talented crew is going to do next.
Clooney has no peer at conveying suave, unflappable charm, but the role of Ryan requires the actor to do something different with his persona: Deflate the illusion and explore the emptiness beneath the cool.
Reitman, who also cowrote the screenplay, feels the constant need to "deepen" his characters, granting them wants and motivations -- especially during the moralistic third act -- that are totally alien to how they're initially portrayed.
Up in the Air often looks like an American Airlines commercial, and I wouldn't call it a feel-good movie per se, but there's a certain satisfaction watching two snappy, beautiful people at the top of their form.