An interesting fact as taken from wikipedia…The book received some good reviews and initially sold well until September 11, 2001 when sales slowed to a near halt. The cover with a cartoon of flying businesspeople, one of them on fire and hurtling earthward also hurt sales. The positive reviews of the Jason Reitman film revived sales.
As soon as I saw the trailer for Up in the Air on TV back in December, I knew I had to see it. It’s not that I could particularly relate to the storyline. I mean, I don’t travel often, especially not for business, I’ve been known to let many an unused points card wear a hole through my wallet, and I don’t follow any self-help gurus. So what was my fascination with this movie? Probably the fact that all of these things are foreign to me. One of the aspects I love about movies and books, or art in general, is their ability to teach me about things I know nothing of. With both the book and the movie I was able to learn a little about the politics of flying, the excitement of points programs, and the power of the motivational speaker, but where I learned a lot was regarding the human condition.
I always read the book before I see the movie, which usually results in my disappointment with the film. In this case, I’m surprised to report that I actually had a higher regard for the movie than the book. In fact, Jason Reitman took a good story and made it great.
Whoever was in charge of casting for this movie is a genius. Needless to say choosing George Clooney as the emotionally unavailable bachelor was spot on, but it was secondary characters like the obnoxious boss, Craig Gregory, being played by Jason Bateman, or some of the cameo appearances made for the random employees being fired, that really had me impressed.
The films cinematography was also a treat, as the aerial shots of each city that he visited were spectacular, along with some wide-angle shots in the airports, and some fast moving camera effects.
The movie carries most of the themes from the book, but its main plotline focuses around love and commitment. One addition that was not in the book was Natalie Keener, the young, fresh-out-of-college, brainchild behind CTC’s new remote firing technology, which could potentially render Bingham useless. An interesting albeit ironic touch. Keener is hilarious and a welcome addition to the story.
The movie was able to expertly take advantage of one of Kirn’s talents in the book, which is being able to show the reader/viewer, instead of tell. There are an abundance of small details that you’ll notice in the film and the book, that help you to understand the nuanced themes throughout.
The book would seem to centre around Bingham’s loneliness, fear and his pursuit of a perceived happiness. There is more emphasis placed on the deterioration of our main character, as he blindly searches for who he is, and what he thinks makes him successful.
One aspect of the book that is not mentioned in the movie is the prospect of a new job that will have him finished with firing people. This is a main focal point for Bingham in the novel, and because of Kirn’s stream of conscious style of writing, the reader is aware of how this keeps him both hopeful and paranoid.
Ultimately, this is a fabulous movie that ought not to be missed, and although the book hasn’t received the accolades that the film has, I found it to be very thought-provoking and clever. I would recommend that if you were to only do one, see the movie, but if you’re up for both, there is ample entertainment to be had.
Book = 3.5 Snakes (review here)
Movie = 4.5 Snakes
Below check out the song that is played while the credits roll at the end of the movie. It is a beautiful song that perfectly wraps up the movie and its subtle meanings.
This book was one of my selections for the Read the Book, See the Movie Challenge.