Sunday, April 11th, 2010

I keep thinking about Up In The Air, the George Clooney movie we watched last night, and I keep coming back to the same conclusion: The Ending Sucked.

It didn’t suck because I didn’t like it, although I didn’t. But I can put up with an ending I don’t like if it makes sense. This one didn’t make sense.

(Here come the spoilers. If you don’t want to know how the movie ends, stop reading. I mean it.)

George plays the part of Ryan Bingham, a guy whose job requires a lot of travel. Working for a company based out of Omaha, Nebraska, he has a small, bare apartment that’s generic as a hotel room. There don’t appear to be any personal touches at all to it, but he doesn’t mind because he spends barely two weeks in total living there, two weeks that he describes as “miserable.” The rest of the year he’s living in actual hotel rooms.

Bingham’s job calls for him to fly to distant cities and fire people. He’s a professional hatchet man, hired by bosses “who don’t have the balls to do the job themselves.” Whether this job has made him detached from humanity, or he has always been that way and this is the job best suited for his personality, is up to you to decide. And it’s not the thing that’s bothering me.

Hanging out in an airport lounge for first-class passengers, Bingham spots Alex across the room and can somehow tell from the vibe coming off her that she puts a lot of travel time, too. He chats her up with a few well-delivered lines about who’s got the best air miles, or something like that. It seems to work; she chats back. Pretty soon they’re swapping stories and comparing platinum charge cards. Almost inevitably, they wind up sleeping together. Well, not sleeping. Hooking up, I think they call it now.

They hook up again later, but it’s purely for recreation. Bingham is not only the type who won’t commit, he gives lectures on how not commit everywhere he goes. Commitment weighs you down, he tells crowds who apparently pay him money to listen to his manifesto of non-commitment. And so you’re led to believe that he and Alex are just friends with benefits.

Then along comes Natalie, who wants to revolutionize the business he works for. The firings will be teleconferenced, she explains, and in her Power Point presentation Bingham sees his way of life disappearing.

Natalie is herself having some trouble with commitment. Not that she has a problem with it, but her boyfriend does. She’s very committed. She followed him to Omaha when she had job prospects elsewhere. She stuck with him, made a go at taking a job she didn’t particularly like, and just when it was beginning to work for her, her boyfriend dumped her.

Right about this time Alex shows up, and they console Natalie by showing her how to crash a party. Natalie hooks up with a guy at the party while Alex and Bingham have what appears to be a really good time with one another. Alex even asks Bingham about his life in a way that would seem to indicate that she wants something more than an occasional quickie when they both happen to have a layover in the same city.

There are more contrasting layers of commitment and non-commitment building up around Bingham, from his older sister breaking up and his younger sister getting married, but I think I’ve given away enough to come to the crux of what’s bothering me: Bingham obviously starts to have feelings for Alex, even though it goes against his life-long philosophy of non-commitment. And Alex seems to be having feelings right back at Bingham. Everything about their relationship points toward a happy ending. So why did the makers of this movie prime me to expect nothing but disappointment, at the moment Bingham is going to take a prize for delivering his manifesto, by having him rush off stage, flying to Chicago and appearing at Alex’s doorstep unexpectedly? Does that ever go well? No, it doesn’t. Like showing a photo of your girlfriend to the guy you’re sharing a foxhole with, it’ll get you shot down every time.

The ending of this movie is: Don’t ever drop everything you’ve ever believed in to go sweep a girl off her feet. If you’ve been an emotionless cipher all your life, stay that way. This ending bugs me because Alex was looking at Bingham with what appeared to be growing warmth. Her conversations with him wandered toward wanting to know more about him, and she seemed to welcome his growing feelings toward her. It doesn’t make sense that she turns out to be an adulterous, cold-hearted wench. Maybe I was too dense to see it, but I don’t think so. I think the whole movie was made to misdirect me toward a happy ending, only to veer suddenly toward a contrived cliché. This is A Bad Ending.

Up In The Air | 8:29 am CST
Category: entertainment | Tags:
Comments Off on Up In The Air

Comments are closed.