Monday, February 08, 2010

Up in The Air – movie for Boomer airheads

Up In The Air is every baby-boomer’s wet-dream. It’s narrative crack for the sentimental, story loving middle classes. A nasty, chemical concoction of conceits.

Ingredient 1 – Implausibly good-looking ageing actors (Clooney & Farmiga).Designed to pull in star-struck boomer romantics. Two good looking executives have raunchy sex in hotel rooms and discuss joining the mile-high club (the scene where they compare airmiles’ cards and discuss sex on planes is just plain, bad writing). The film’s one saving grace is Clooney’s lack of redemption.

Ingredient 2 – Sentimental (but patronising) view of marriage among poor people. The wedding scenes are so clichéd, cloying and inauthentic that it’s an insult to the people bearing the brunt of job losses, largely caused by assholes talking down to them. The groom is a cartoon character with unreal dialogue and played as a buffoon; the bride as a bubbling child. The older sister character is much more interesting but she’s subsumed under this pathetic sub-plot.

Ingredient 3 – Young person introduces then turns her back on technology. Baby Boomers just love this. Bright young thing just doesn’t get it (technology bad – face-to-face good) – then she does. It’s us Baby Boomers teaching them young ‘uns a lesson. And what’s the lesson? When it comes to sacking people, do it face-to-face, with a smile. Wow.

Ingredient 4 – Use real people to get emotional response then ignore issue. This is criminal. Real people are used for the interview scenes and finale, and their plight is in no way helped by appearing in a sentimental rom-com, where they’re mere fodder for a feel-good plot. The fact that they’re real people, being exploited again, makes me want to tear the Director’s throat out.

Ingredient 4 – Barely disguised advert for Hilton and American Airlines. Does the Director have no sense of irony? Having paid for huge dollops of crude product placement, one could reflect on the fact that both organisations have been sacking staff like crazy. Take the 7000 jobs from American Airlines and the 1000 and more from Hilton. There’s something creepy about naked capitalism when it’s worming its way into your consciousness through indirect advertising in a movie that decries the very behaviour you exhibit.


In the end this is a thinly disguised rom-com for cosy people who have jobs and don’t care much for those who don’t. By avoiding the main issue, job losses and redundancy, it redirects the audience towards an anti-technology message. This is bullshit. The 'sack people using videoconferencing' idea is fantasy, job losses and the pain of redundancy is not. If Clooney gets an Oscar for this, it will rival Obama’s Nobel Prize as most misplaced award of the century.


Kim Thomas said...

Donald, if you're going to start criticising films for using implausibly good-looking actors, there's not going to be much left for you to watch:-)

Donald Clark said...

Precious, Moon, Prophet come to mind - but US TV and film makers do have a habit of pumping in 'looks' as a substitute for substance.

Unknown said...

Another detailed review cna be found here:

Rina said...

Wonderful commentary! Why don't you write a script, would be a sharp one. Would watch this movie when it's screened here to see what you are talking about. Lol they are trying to put some fun into the lives of people who have been without these perks of life seems! No jobs, no sex and no miles would be a lethal combo!

Andy Tedd said...

What I like most about Donald's blog is that he is a baby boomer who, instead of moaning about young people, realises that it is his own spoiled generation who have 'screwed everything up' :)


(I came here looking for a cynical take on LT2010 but a good rant is so much more fun)

Unknown said...

Andy, what sort of things do you ahve in mind when you say have BB's screwed up?

Donald Clark said...

How about these 7 for starters:
1. Climate f****d
2. Financial crisis leaving next generation to pay for it
3. Over-generous pensions, which will be paid for by next generation
4. Wealth tied up in property, excluding next generation from mortgages
5. Free HE education for them but next generation have to pay
6. Freeloading on expenses seeing it as part of 'the deal'
7. Promoting and participating in wasteful consumerism and consumption

Unknown said...

I think you are a it too hard on yourself, Don. Taking your points one by one:

1. Agreed, but did we know, until relativelyy recently, what we were doing? If the sciene hadn't explained what was happening for, say another thirty years, the next gerneation would have carried o in the same way.

2. I think that the people making the big bonus payments in the City are as likely to come from this genration as ours.

3. Probably true.

4. It is only relativley recently that EVERYBODY expected to buy a house. I don't think that was the case in earlier genreations. EXCEPT that the Tories sold off the social housing. I think lots of mainland Eurpeans rent and perhaps we'll gothe same way.

5. Definitely. Part of the problem is that so many more are enocuraged to go, though, so it's bound to be more expensive for society to support.

6. I doubt that this is confined to BB's. I think the attraction of a free lunch is timeless and cross gereratinal.

7. Consumerism is as old as The Bible.

The children of BB's have enjoyed the spoils, too.

I also think that they did well in terms of how their parents relate to them, the opportunties they were given at school and socially, and the care that has gone into catering for special needs.

Which is not to say that I think everything is rosy in the garden. I'm just not going to beat myself up too much.

Term paper said...

Precious, Moon, Prophet come to mind-but US TV and film makers do have a habit of pumping in 'look' as a substitute for substance.

Andy Tedd said...


Like Donald said. I would have 2,3 and 7 higher up but that's arguing the toss.

My main issue with them as a generation is that their fathers and mothers fought for their/our rights, then the boomers went on a big counter-cultural party, but as soon as it was time fot them to grow up, became that which they were against.

This is a gross generalisation of course, but I count myself lucky that my old man is the generation before and he didn't do 2 - despite my and my bro saying you cant take it with you.

Rant over, er, elearning, informal learning, um, stuff, oh yes its the fact this blog does the bigger things that make it so interesting.

I saw something that descibed Jay Cross as an auteur the other day - give me strength.

College Research Papers said...

If the sciene hadn't explained what was happening for, say another thirty years, the next gerneation would have carried o in the same way.

jay said...

Andy, I hate to be petty when I have so many important things to share, but the article that referred to me as auteur was entirely in French, and I have written numerous books. I'm glad they didn't use franglais.


Andy Tedd said...

Jay - LOL - that will teach me to skim