Up in the Air (2009)

R | 108-109 mins | Comedy-drama | 25 December 2009

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HISTORY

Following the opening credits, there are several brief scenes in which real people who have been terminated from their jobs express frustration and outrage to someone offscreen who has just told them that they have been dismissed. After the final terminated employee, played by actor Zach Galifianakis, reacts by pushing things off a desk, the scene opens up and it is revealed that he is with “Ryan Bingham” (George Clooney). Similar scenes of real people being terminated are woven throughout the film. At the end of the main story, there are brief interviews with some of the same people, who address the camera and explain how they have survived since losing their jobs. The interviewees variously describe their sense of loss, and acknowledge that the love and support of their families and friends have sustained them.
       The opening credits appear over aerial shots of the Midwestern United States, with most depicting farmland as if viewed from the window of an airplane. Throughout the film, locations are established by titles superimposed over aerial shots of each of the cities that Ryan visits. The end credits include a list of names and organizations that the producers wished to thank, including the states of Michigan and Missouri, American Airlines, Hilton Hotels, the Hertz Corporation and the Department of Homeland Security. The end credits also acknowledge that permission to include an audio clip of an NHL game was granted by the NHL Network. In a subplot of Up in the Air , there is a reference to a French movie that inspired Ryan's sister, "Julie" (Melanie Lynskey), and her fiancé (Danny McBride) to ask friends ... More Less

Following the opening credits, there are several brief scenes in which real people who have been terminated from their jobs express frustration and outrage to someone offscreen who has just told them that they have been dismissed. After the final terminated employee, played by actor Zach Galifianakis, reacts by pushing things off a desk, the scene opens up and it is revealed that he is with “Ryan Bingham” (George Clooney). Similar scenes of real people being terminated are woven throughout the film. At the end of the main story, there are brief interviews with some of the same people, who address the camera and explain how they have survived since losing their jobs. The interviewees variously describe their sense of loss, and acknowledge that the love and support of their families and friends have sustained them.
       The opening credits appear over aerial shots of the Midwestern United States, with most depicting farmland as if viewed from the window of an airplane. Throughout the film, locations are established by titles superimposed over aerial shots of each of the cities that Ryan visits. The end credits include a list of names and organizations that the producers wished to thank, including the states of Michigan and Missouri, American Airlines, Hilton Hotels, the Hertz Corporation and the Department of Homeland Security. The end credits also acknowledge that permission to include an audio clip of an NHL game was granted by the NHL Network. In a subplot of Up in the Air , there is a reference to a French movie that inspired Ryan's sister, "Julie" (Melanie Lynskey), and her fiancé (Danny McBride) to ask friends to photograph a cardboard cutout of the couple in various cities. The unnamed French film was Amélie (2001), in which a garden gnome is photographed throughout the world.
       A voice-over narration by Clooney begins with the words "To know me, you have to fly with me," which are the first words of Walter Kirn's novel Up in the Air . While the film follows the general tone of the novel, few of the incidents from the original were retained. The character of "Natalie Keener" (Anna Kendrick), featured prominently in the film, does not appear in the book, and the character of "Alex Goran" (Vera Farmiga) is different. In the novel, the last name of Alex's character is Brophy, rather than Goran; she is not married; she is insecure and addicted to pills; and it is Ryan who becomes disenchanted with their relationship. A minor, though significant plot difference between the novel and the film is that, in the novel, Ryan finally achieves his sought after 1,000,000 frequent flyer miles status, while in the film, he reaches the 10,000,000 mile level.
       The most significant difference between the film and the novel, which was written as a first person narrative, is the revelation at the end of the book that Ryan has been seriously ill and suffering from seizures. As Ryan's final flight lands, he relates that he will be driven by his sister "Kara" (Amy Morton in the film) to the Mayo clinic, where he has made an appointment with a specialist. The final line of the novel is "We're here." After the release of the film, some who had read the novel speculated that director and co-screenwriter Jason Reitman initially had planned to end the movie with Ryan's impending death.
       This assumption was based on two specific points within the film, as reported in the online article "Bingham vs. Cancer?" on Hollywood-Elsewhere.com: First, early in the movie, Ryan mistakenly assumes that a flight attendant is saying "Cancer," when she actually is asking if he wants a soft drink in a "can, sir." Second is the lengthy bit of dialogue in which Ryan expounds that "everyone dies alone." In answer to online speculation, Reitman gave an interview that was posted on the site Firstshowing.com. In the interview, Reitman stated that he "never shot a scene that suggested the character [Ryan] was dying" and that the "cancer" line was based on something that he himself had overheard on a plane.
       The film was in development for over eight years before its production. On 10 Aug 2001, DV and HR articles reported that Jay Roach would direct the adaptation of Kirn's recently published novel for Fox 2000 through his Everyman Pictures company. At that time, Michael McCullers was to act as the film's executive producer and, according to the articles, was considering adapting the novel himself.
       By early 2003, according to 16 Apr 2003 articles in DV and HR , Tom Pollock and Ivan Reitman's Montecito Picture Co., which was based at DreamWorks, had just purchased Sheldon Turner's "spec adaptation" of the novel for "$250,000 against $600,000" and Ivan Reitman was scheduled to direct. On 15 May 2008, DV and HR reported that Jason Reitman, Ivan's son, would write the screenplay but had not, as yet, signed on to direct the project. The DV article also speculated that the project would likely remain at DreamWorks, "where Montecito has a first-look deal." A DV article on 28 Aug 2008 confirmed that Clooney would star in the production which, by that time, would be directed by Jason Reitman. A 24 Nov 2008 article in DV reported that, following the departure of DreamWorks from the Paramount lot, the Up in the Air project was to be released by Paramount.
       That article, as well as many others that appeared during the film's marketing campaign, quoted Jason Reitman as saying that he had always had an interest in the novel but stopped working on an adaptation when he became involved in other projects, including Juno (2007, see above). In a LAT article on 16 Jan 2010, it was reported that Kirn himself had written an early draft of the screenplay. According to the LAT article, the final screenplay, credited on screen to both Turner and Reitman, was said by some sources to have retained "significant elements" originally developed by Turner, including the addition of a character similar to Natalie. However, in Turner's version, the character was male.
       Various newspaper articles in Dec 2009 reported that the break in the development of the project caused a reconsideration of how the subject matter was approached. Because the economy took a serious downturn in late 2008, the idea of a comedy about a highly paid "corporate downsizer" was no longer funny. According to a LAT article on 30 Nov 2009, because of high unemployment and bad economic news, Reitman decided to turn his script away from being "a satire about corporate downsizing."
       According to the pressbook, the LAT article and other sources, as Reitman was scouting locations in St. Louis and Detroit, where unemployment was particularly high, he came upon an idea for a change in tone. He then placed ads in the "Help Wanted" sections of local newspapers to recruit volunteers who had lost their jobs to appear in a documentary about job loss. Among the hundreds of persons who responded to the ads, more than twenty appeared in the released film, listed in the cast as "Terminated employees."
       A 21 Dec 2009 NYT article, as well as other sources, reported that American Airlines, Hilton Hotels and Hertz Corporation, which are featured prominently in the film, did not finance the production, nor did money for licensing fees exchange hands between the filmmakers and the corporations. However, all three companies participated in what is known as marketing partnerships, whereby companies offer free services to filmmakers in exchange for product placement, thus saving, as some sources speculated for Up in the Air , millions of dollars in production costs.
       According to the pressbook, Reitman decided that Ryan's carry-on suitcase, which signifies the character's philosophy in the film, should be a Travelpro because the director himself uses the same bag. In an interview in LAT on 13 Jan 2010, Reitman explained why there was a credit for "Spacesuit technician" on the released film. He related that, at one point, there was a fantasy scene in which Clooney was shown in a spacesuit, but the scene was cut.
       According to the pressbook, Up in the Air was the first film to be allowed to shoot at a TSA checkpoint. According to a 20 Dec LAT article on the film, to gain permission for the filming, Homeland Security insisted that actual TSA employees be used and cast and crew members working on the film were required to wear specially numbered badges to facilitate their travel through airport checkpoints. Among the more than fifty scenes set in airports and planes, Detroit Metropolitan Airport's new McNamara Terminal was the first location site, where filming took place for three days.
       According to an 8 Jun 2008 DV article, actor Adam Rose had been cast in Up in the Air , but he did not appear in the released film. Michele Reitman, who appeared as "Conference worker," is Jason Reitman's wife. Jason Bateman, J. K. Simmons and Cut Chemist had appeared in Reitman's previous picture, Juno (2007, see above), and Sam Elliott had appeared in Reitman's first feature, Thank You for Not Smoking (2005). Production designer Steve Sakland, director of photography Eric Steelberg and film editor Dana E. Glauberman also worked on Juno . Sakland, Glauberman and score composer Rolfe Kent also worked with Reitman on Thank You for Not Smoking .
       Up in the AIr was shot entirely on location. According to the pressbook, the production was based in St. Louis, where the company utilized an empty six-story building in the downtown area to shoot numerous office settings in various cities. In addition to St. Louis, Detroit, Miami, Las Vegas and Omaha were also used as locations. As the director stated in the pressbook, "We shot in five cities, but we were portraying twenty." Thus St. Louis also became the location for scenes set in places as diverse as Chicago and Dallas.
       Although a DV article on 31 Jul 2009 reported that Up in the Air would have its World Premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, the film previously had shown on 5 Sep 2009 at the Telluride Film Festival, where trade paper critics reviewed it. The film opened to positive reviews. The HR critic compared Up in the Air to the best work of Preston Sturges and Billy Wilder and stated, “It's rare for a movie to be at once so biting and so moving."
       In addition to being selected as one of AFI's Movies of the Year for 2009, Up in the Air received Academy Award nominations in the following categories: Best Picture, Best Directing, Best Actor in a Leading Role (Clooney), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Farmiga and Kendrick) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Sheldon Turner and Reitman). The film also received six Golden Globe nominations, the most for any 2009 release. Reitman and Turner won the award for Best Screenplay; other nominations included Best Motion Picture--Drama, Best Actor in a Motion Picture--Drama for Clooney, Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting role in a Motion Picture for both Farmiga and Kendrick and Best Director for Reitman.
       Reitman received a nomination as Best Achievement in Direction of a Motion Picture by the DGA; he and Turner received the Best Adapted Screenplay award from both BAFTA and the WGA, as well as sharing with Kirn the USC Libraries Scripter Award for the year's best Book-to-Film Adaptation. Up in the Air was nominated for the Darryl F. Zanuck Producer of the Year Award in Theatrical Motion Pictures, and received three SAG award nominations: one for Clooney in the Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role category, and one each for Farmiga and Kendrick in the Outstanding Performance by Female Actor in a Supporting Role category. Steve Saklad received a nomination from the Art Directors Guild for Excellence in Production Design. The picture was included on numerous "Best Films" lists and received Best Picture citations or awards from the National Board of Review, The Los Angeles Film Critics Association and the New York Film Critics Circle. Those organizations also named Clooney Best Actor of the year. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
10 Aug 2001
p. 1, 36.
Daily Variety
16 Apr 2003.
---
Daily Variety
15 May 2008
p. 1.
Daily Variety
28 Aug 2008
p. 1, 8.
Daily Variety
8 Jun 2009.
---
Daily Variety
31 Jul 2009.
---
Daily Variety
17 Nov 2009.
---
Hollywood Reporter
10 Aug 2001
p. 2, 43.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Apr 2003
p. 3, 28.
Hollywood Reporter
15 May 2008.
---
Hollywood Reporter
6 Sep 2009.
---
Los Angeles Times
14 Nov 2009.
---
Los Angeles Times
30 Nov 2009
Calendar, p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
4 Dec 2009
Calendar, p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
20 Dec 2009.
---
Los Angeles Times
13 Jan 2010
The Envelope, pp. 20-22.
Los Angeles Times
16 Jan 2010
Calendar, p. 1, 16.
New York Times
4 Dec 2009.
---
New York Times
21 Dec 2009.
---
Variety
6 Sep 2009.
---
Variety
14 Sep 2009
p. 32, 38.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Jason Reitman film
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
Addl 2d asst dir, Detroit crew
2d 2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir, Miami crew
2d 2d asst dir, Las Vegas crew
Addl 2d 2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Assoc prod
Assoc prod
Assoc prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Aerial dir of photog
Aerial dir of photog
Cam op/Steadicam op
1st asst photog
B 1st asst photog
2d asst photog
B 2d asst photog
B 2d asst photog, Detroit crew
B 2d asst photog, Omaha crew
Film loader
Video assist
Video playback foreperson
Video playback tech
Chief lighting tech
Asst chief lighting tech
Chief rigging elec
Chief rigging elec, Detroit crew
Chief rigging elec, Miami crew
Chief rigging elec, Las Vegas crew
Asst chief rigging tech
Asst chief rigging tech, Miami crew
Rigging elec
Rigging elec
Rigging elec, Detroit crew
Rigging elec, Detroit crew
Rigging elec, Detroit crew
Rigging elec, Detroit crew
Rigging elec, Omaha crew
Rigging elec, Omaha crew
Rigging elec, Miami crew
Rigging elec, Miami crew
Rigging elec, Miami crew
Rigging elec, Miami crew
Rigging elec, Las Vegas crew
Rigging elec, Las Vegas crew
Rigging elec, Las Vegas crew
Elec, Detroit crew
Elec, Detroit crew
Elec, Detroit crew
Elec, Detroit crew
Elec, Omaha crew
Elec, Miami crew
Elec, Miami crew
Elec, Miami crew
Elec, Miami crew
Elec, Miami crew
Elec, Las Vegas crew
Elec, Las Vegas crew
Elec, Las Vegas crew
Elec, Las Vegas crew
1st company grip
2d company grip
2d company grip, Miami crew
2d company grip, Las Vegas crew
1st company rigging grip
2d company rigging grip
2d company rigging grip, Detroit crew
2d company rigging grip, Miami crew
Rigging grip
Rigging grip
Rigging grip, Detroit crew
Rigging grip, Detroit crew
Rigging grip, Miami crew
Rigging grip, Miami crew
Rigging grip, Miami crew
Dolly grip op
Dolly grip op
Grip
Grip
Grip, Detroit crew
Grip, Detroit crew
Grip, Detroit crew
Grip, Omaha crew
Grip, Omaha crew
Grip, Omaha crew
Grip, Miami crew
Grip, Miami crew
Grip, Miami crew
Grip, Miami crew
Grip, Miami crew
Grip, Miami crew
Grip, Las Vegas crew
Grip, Las Vegas crew
Grip, Las Vegas crew
Grip, Las Vegas crew
Grip, Las Vegas crew
Still photog
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Art dept coord
Draftsperson
Draftsperson
Storyboard artist
FILM EDITORS
1st asst ed
Ed intern
SET DECORATORS
Prop master
Asst prop master
Props, Detroit crew
Props, Detroit crew
Props, Miami crew
Props, Las Vegas crew
Propmaker, Detroit crew
Propmaker foreperson, Las Vegas crew
Lead person
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser, Detroit crew
Set dresser, Detroit crew
Set dresser, Detroit crew
Set dresser, Omaha crew
Set dresser, Miami crew
Set dresser, Miami crew
Set dresser, Miami crew
Set dresser, Miami crew
Set dresser, Miami crew
Set dresser, Miami crew
Set dresser, Las Vegas crew
Set dresser, Las Vegas crew
On-set dresser
Const coord
Const coord, Detroit crew
Const foreperson
Const foreperson, Detroit crew
Const foreperson, Miami crew
Foreperson
Foreperson, Miami crew
Sn
Chief carpenter, Las Vegas crew
Chief painter
Paint foreperson
Paint foreperson, Detroit crew
Painter
On-set painter
On-set painter
On-set painter, Miami crew
Labor foreperson, Detroit crew
Scenic artist, Detroit crew
Scenic artist, Omaha crew
Scenic artist, Omaha crew
COSTUMES
Cost des
Asst cost des
Cost supv
Cost, Detroit crew
Cost, Detroit crew
Cost, Detroit crew
Cost, Omaha crew
Cost, Omaha crew
Cost, Miami crew
Cost, Miami crew
Cost, Las Vegas crew
Cost, Las Vegas crew
On-set cost
On-set cost, Miami crew
On-set cost, Las Vegas crew
Seamstress
Seamstress
Seamstress, Detroit crew
Spacesuit tech
MUSIC
Mus/Mus cond
Mus supv
Mus supv
Mus ed
Mus preparation by
Mus programmer
Orch contractor
Mus rec and mixed by
Pro Tools op
Mus asst
Mus mixed at
Mus coord
Soundtrack album on
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom op
Utility sd tech
Utility sd tech, Miami crew
Utility sd tech, Las Vegas crew
Utility sd, Detroit crew
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
ADR rec
Supv sd ed
Supv sd ed
Supv ADR ed
Sd ed
1st asst sd ed
Foley supv
Foley mixer
Foley mixer
Foley artist
Foley artist
Foley artist
Mix tech
Mix tech
Mix tech
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff coord
Spec eff foreperson
Spec eff foreperson
Spec eff foreperson
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech, Miami crew
Visual eff
Visual eff
Visual eff supv, Hammerhead
Visual eff sup, Lola Visual Effects
Visual eff co-supv, Hammerhead
Visual eff prod, Hammerhead
Visual eff prod, Lola Visual Effects
Assoc visual eff prod, Lola Visual Effects
Visual eff prod mgr, Hammerhead
Systems administrator, Hammerhead
Compositor, Hammerhead
Compositor, Hammerhead
Compositor, Hammerhead
Compositor, Hammerhead
Compositor, Hammerhead
Inferno/Flame compositor, Lola Visual Effects
Inferno/Flame compositor, Lola Visual Effects
Inferno/Flame compositor, Lola Visual Effects
Inferno/Flame compositor, Lola Visual Effects
Inferno/Flame compositor, Lola Visual Effects
Inferno/Flame compositor, Lola Visual Effects
Inferno/Flame compositor, Lola Visual Effects
Inferno/Flame compositor, Lola Visual Effects
Inferno/Flame compositor, Lola Visual Effects
Visual eff prod asst, Hammerhead
Visual eff prod asst, Hammerhead
Digital ed systems support
Digital ed systems support
Main title des
End crawl by
MAKEUP
Makeup dept head
Makeup dept head
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Makeup artist, Detroit crew
Makeup artist, Omaha crew
Makeup artist, Miami crew
Makeup artist, Las Vegas crew
Key makeup artist, Miami crew
Hair dept head
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
Hairstylist, Detroit crew
Hairstylist, Omaha crew
Hairstylist, Miami crew
Hairstylist, Las Vegas crew
Hairstylist to Mr. Clooney
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Casting assoc
Loc casting
Loc casting asst
Loc casting asst
Voice casting
Background casting, Detroit crew
Background casting, Detroit crew
Background casting, Miami crew
Background casting, Las Vegas crew
Background casting asst, Miami crew
Unit prod mgr
Asst unit prod mgr
Scr supv
Supv loc mgr
Loc mgr, Miami crew
Asst loc mgr
Asst loc mgr
Asst loc mgr, Detroit crew
Asst loc mgr, Detroit crew
Asst loc mgr, Omaha crew
Asst loc mgr, Miami crew
Asst loc mgr, Miami crew
Asst loc mgr, Miami crew
Asst loc mgr, Las Vegas crew
Prod supv, Omaha crew
Prod supv, Miami crew
Prod coord
Asst prod coord
Asst prod coord
Asst prod coord, Detroit crew
Asst prod coord, Omaha crew
Asst prod coord, Miami crew
Asst prod coord, Las Vegas crew
Prod secy
Prod secy, Detroit crew
Prod secy, Miami crew
Prod accountant
Deluxe account mgr
1st asst accountant
2d asst accountant
2d asst accountant
2d asst accountant, Detroit crew
Payroll accountant
Accounting clerk
Accounting clerk
Accounting clerk, Miami crew
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst, Detroit crew
Prod asst, Detroit crew
Prod asst, Detroit crew
Prod asst, Detroit crew
Prod asst, Detroit crew
Prod asst, Omaha crew
Prod asst, Omaha crew
Prod asst, Omaha crew
Prod asst, Omaha crew
Prod asst, Omaha crew
Prod asst, Omaha crew
Prod asst, Omaha crew
Prod asst, Miami crew
Prod asst, Miami crew
Prod asst, Miami crew
Prod asst, Miami crew
Prod asst, Miami crew
Prod asst, Miami crew
Prod asst, Miami crew
Prod asst, Miami crew
Prod asst, Miami crew
Prod asst, Las Vegas crew
Prod asst, Las Vegas crew
Prod asst, Las Vegas crew
Prod asst, Las Vegas crew
Prod asst, Las Vegas crew
Prod asst, Las Vegas crew
Prod asst, Las Vegas crew
Asst to Mr. J. Reitman
Asst to Mr. J. Reitman
Asst to Mr. I. Reitman
Asst to Mr. Dubiecki
Asst to Mr. Dubiecki
Asst to Mr. Clifford
Asst to Mr. Pollock
Asst to Mr. Medjuck
Asst to Mr. Beugg
Asst to Mr. Clooney
Unit pub
Studio teacher
Studio teacher, Detroit crew
Medic
Medic
Medic, Detroit crew
Medic, Detroit crew
Medic, Omaha crew
Medic, Miami crew
Medic, Las Vegas crew
Catering by
Catering by, Miami crew
Craft service
Craft service, Detroit crew
Craft service, Miami crew
Craft service, Las Vegas crew
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Transportation capt
Transportation capt, Detroit crew
Transportation capt, Omaha crew
Transportation capt, Miami crew
Transportation capt, Las Vegas crew
Transportation co-capt
Transportation co-capt
Transportation co-capt, Miami crew
Aerial pilot
Aerial pilot
Marine coord, Miami crew
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunt coord
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
COLOR PERSONNEL
Digital intermediate
Colorist, EFILM
Digital intermediate prod, EFILM
Digital intermedial asst prod, EFILM
Digital intermediate ed, EFILM
Col timing asst, EFILM
Deluxe Lab col timer
Deluxe lab mgr asst
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Up in the Air by Walter Kirn (New York, 2001).
AUTHOR
SONGS
"This Land Is Your Land," written by Woody Guthrie, performed by Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, courtesy of Daptone Records
"Mood Indigo," written by Barney Bigard, Edward Ellington & Irwin Mills, performed by Thelonious Monk, courtesy of Concord Music Group
"Lonely in Love," written by Mateo Messina, performed by Jeff Babko, courtesy of Kind Music, Inc.
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SONGS
"This Land Is Your Land," written by Woody Guthrie, performed by Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, courtesy of Daptone Records
"Mood Indigo," written by Barney Bigard, Edward Ellington & Irwin Mills, performed by Thelonious Monk, courtesy of Concord Music Group
"Lonely in Love," written by Mateo Messina, performed by Jeff Babko, courtesy of Kind Music, Inc.
"Goin' Home," written & performed by Dan Auerbach, courtesy of Nonesuch Records, by arrangement with Warner Music Film & TV Licensing
"O.P.P.," written by Vincent Brown, Anthony Criss, Kier Gist, Berry Gordy, Jr., Alphonso Mizell, Frederick Perren & Deke Richards, performed by Naughty By Nature, courtesy of Tommy Boy Records, by arrangement with Warner Music Group Film & TC Licensing, contains a sample of "ABC," written by Berry Gordy, Jr., Alphonso Mizell, Frederick Perrin & Deke Richards, performed by Jackson 5, courtesy of Motown Records, under license from Universal Music Enterprises
"Good Times," written by Bernard Edwards & Nile Rodgers, performed by Chic, courtesy of Atlantic Recording Corp., by arrangement with Warner Music Film & TV Licensing
"Bust a Move," written by Matt Dike, Luther Rabb, Marvin Young & Jim Walters, performed by Young MC, courtesy of Delicious Vinyl
"Sign Your Name," written & performed by Sananda Maitreya, courtesy of Sony Music Entertainment (UK) Ltd., Columbia Records & The Columbia/Epic Label Group, a unit of Sony Music Entertainment, by arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
"Time After Time," written by Rob Hyman & Cyndi Lauper, performed by Anna Kendrick, courtesy of Pocket Songs
"Genova," written by Charles Wyatt & Matt Greenberg, performed by Charles Atlas, courtesy of Charles Atlas
"By Your Side," written by Cary Hudson, performed by Blue Mountain, courtesy of Broadmoor Records
"Hurtin' You," written & performed by Ben Kweller, courtesy of ATO Records
"Angel in the Snow," written & performed by Elliott Smith, courtesy of Kill Rock Stars
"Help Yourself," written by Bradley Grant Smith, performed by Sad Brad Smith
"Taken It All, " written by David Crosby & Graham Nash, performed by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, courtesy of Atlantic Recording Corp., by arrangement with Warner Music Group Film & TV Licensing
"Thank You Lord," written & performed by Roy Buchanan, courtesy of Universal Records, under license from Universal Music Enterprises
"The Snow Before Us," written by Charles Wyatt & Matt Greenberg, performed by Charles Atlas, courtesy of Audraglint Recordings
"Tickets to Life Theme," written by David Winer, courtesy of American Airlines, Inc.
"Up in the Air," written & performed by Kevin Renick, courtesy of Kevin Renick
"Be Yourself," written by Graham Nash & Terence Reid, performed by Graham Nash, courtesy of Graham Nash, by arrangement with Warner Music Group Film & TV Licensing.
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COMPOSERS
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DETAILS
Release Date:
25 December 2009
Premiere Information:
Telluride Film Festival screening: 5 September 2009
Toronto International Film Festival Screening: 12 September 2009
New York & Los Angeles openings: 4 December 2009
Production Date:
February--15 May 2009 in St. Louis, Detroit, Omaha, Miami and Las Vegas
Copyright Claimant:
DW Studios L.L.C. and Cold Spring Pictures
Copyright Date:
2009
Copyright Number:
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Digital; dts; SDDS Sony Dynamic Digital Sound in selected theatres
Color
deluxe
Lenses/Prints
Kodak Motion Picture Film
Duration(in mins):
108-109
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
45561
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

After spending the day dismissing employees at various companies, trying to reassure them with phrases such as “this is the beginning” and it is “part of a process,” corporate downsizer Ryan Bingham efficiently packs his Travelpro carry-on suitcase and glides through the airport. Constant business travel has afforded the privileges of frequent flyer lounges and free upgrades to Ryan, who feels at home in the air and prefers interacting with airline and hotel employees to relationships with family or close friends. In addition to his work as a downsizer, Ryan is also a corporate motivational speaker, who expounds on his philosophy of living without material or emotional encumbrances with the catchphrase, “What’s in your backpack?” When Ryan calls his office in Omaha, his boss at CTC, Craig Gregory, insists that he must return to Omaha by the end of the week for something important. In the bar of the Dallas Airport Hilton, Ryan meets Alex Goran, an attractive fellow business traveler in her thirties with whom he flirtatiously compares corporate preferred customer cards. Alex is particularly impressed with Ryan’s graphite American Airlines Concierge level card, which will lead to the ultimate frequent flyer miles goal Ryan has set for himself. Later, after having sex in Ryan’s room, they agree to meet again when their busy travel schedules converge. The next day, as Ryan is shopping for ties in an airport shop, his sister Kara telephones to ask if he plans to attend their younger sister Julie’s wedding. Ryan does not want to commit when Kara tells him that she is sending a FedEx package containing a cardboard cutout of Julie and her ... +


After spending the day dismissing employees at various companies, trying to reassure them with phrases such as “this is the beginning” and it is “part of a process,” corporate downsizer Ryan Bingham efficiently packs his Travelpro carry-on suitcase and glides through the airport. Constant business travel has afforded the privileges of frequent flyer lounges and free upgrades to Ryan, who feels at home in the air and prefers interacting with airline and hotel employees to relationships with family or close friends. In addition to his work as a downsizer, Ryan is also a corporate motivational speaker, who expounds on his philosophy of living without material or emotional encumbrances with the catchphrase, “What’s in your backpack?” When Ryan calls his office in Omaha, his boss at CTC, Craig Gregory, insists that he must return to Omaha by the end of the week for something important. In the bar of the Dallas Airport Hilton, Ryan meets Alex Goran, an attractive fellow business traveler in her thirties with whom he flirtatiously compares corporate preferred customer cards. Alex is particularly impressed with Ryan’s graphite American Airlines Concierge level card, which will lead to the ultimate frequent flyer miles goal Ryan has set for himself. Later, after having sex in Ryan’s room, they agree to meet again when their busy travel schedules converge. The next day, as Ryan is shopping for ties in an airport shop, his sister Kara telephones to ask if he plans to attend their younger sister Julie’s wedding. Ryan does not want to commit when Kara tells him that she is sending a FedEx package containing a cardboard cutout of Julie and her fiancé, Jim Miller, and expects him to takes pictures of the cutout in several places, including the front of the Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas. Back in Omaha, after unpacking in his small, efficiency apartment, Ryan’s neighbor gives him the FedEx package, then declines his offer to see him that night because she is in a relationship. At the office the next day, Ryan is horrified when he learns that newly hired employee Natalie Keener, an intense, recent business school graduate, is pitching a new corporate strategy called “Glocal—our global must become local” that radically changes their business by enabling the downsizers to dismiss dozens of people every day through video conferencing. Most downsizers are happy not to travel so much, and Craig is impressed by an eighty-percent cut in their travel budget, but Ryan is chagrined, especially when Natalie demonstrates the video conferencing model using a script written by him. Ryan cannot dissuade Craig from going through with the plan, but Craig concedes that Natalie needs some person-to-person experience and sends her out with Ryan for training. At the Omaha airport, annoyed by Natalie’s large, over-packed suitcase, Ryan takes her to buy a Travelpro. As they approach the security check-in to board their flight, Ryan imparts his travel wisdom, which she either ignores or disdains. In St. Louis, when Ryan receives a call from Alex, who is in Atlanta, they arrange to meet again in Dallas. The next day, Natalie sits silently beside Ryan as he gives termination notices to various employees. When Bob, one of the men losing his job, becomes hostile, Natalie jumps into the conversation. Her clichés further inflame Bob until Ryan salvages the situation by telling him to follow his youthful dream of becoming a chef. That night at dinner, Ryan explains frequent flyer miles programs to Natalie and tells her that his goal is 10,000,000 miles, a level reached by only six other people, fewer than have walked on the moon. In the morning, as Natalie helps Ryan take a picture of the cutout beside the St. Louis airport, he cannot understand why she is unimpressed by an airport from which the Wright brothers and Charles Lindbergh flew. In Wichita, a bored Natalie begs Ryan to let her fire the next person. When Karen Barnes hears the news, she calmly asks what the severence package is, then says that her plans are to go to a beautiful bridge near her home and jump off. Shaken, Natalie immediately runs out the building, followed by Ryan, who assures her that people frequently say things like that, but never mean it. As they travel to various cities, the stress of firing people begins to take a toll on Natalie, who is beginning to understand the human consequences of losing a job. In Miami, after watching Ryan deliver one of his motivational speeches, Natalie receives a text message from her boyfriend Brian saying that he wants to break up. As she starts to cry later, Ryan is chagrined but comforts her. Later, Alex, whom Ryan had arranged to meet, joins them. Over drinks, Natalie reveals that she gave up a good job offer in San Francisco to join Brian, who found a position in Omaha. Alex’s gentle advice helps to calm Natalie, who decides to join her and Ryan when they crash a corporate party that night. Despite her feelings of rejection by Brian, Natalie enjoys the party and spends the night with a nice “techie” guy she meets at the party. Meanwhile, Alex and Ryan confess that they like each other before Alex has to leave for an early morning flight. After breakfast, Natalie helps Ryan take another picture of the cutout, then angrily confronts him for thinking of his relationship with Alex as casual. Their next city is Detroit, which Ryan cautions is tough because the city has been hard hit by job losses. Once at their destination, they are directed to a room in which Craig speaks with them on a video conferencing hookup. Despite Ryan’s misgivings, Craig tells them that Natalie is to take the lead on this assignment and use the new video conferencing technique. Natalie is nervous, but sticks to her script when dismissing the first person, Mr. Samuels, a fifty-seven-year-old man. As Samuels starts to raise his voice and cry while listening to Natalie recite her script, she and Ryan suddenly realize that Samuels is sitting in the next room. Natalie is shaken when she watches a deflated Samuels walk past, but determines to carry on. That night, in the airport, Natalie apologizes to Ryan for accusing him of being emotionally isolated. Although they both are scheduled to fly back to Omaha, Ryan suddenly decides to fly to Las Vegas to take a picture of the cutout in front of the Luxor Hotel. He is assisted by Alex, whom he convinces to be his “plus one” at Julie’s wedding that weekend in Minnesota. When they arrive at Ryan’s snowy hometown, miles north of Milwaukee, Ryan runs into Kara in the hotel and learns that she recently separated from her husband. That night, at the rehearsal dinner, after Ryan places his snapshots among the dozens of others taken by friends, he and Julie are friendly, but awkward around each other. He learns that, because Jim is investing all of their money into a real estate venture, the staged vacation photographs are substitutes for pictures they would have taken on their honeymoon. The next day, as Ryan is showing Alex around his old high school, he receives a call from Kara, who reports that Julie needs him because Jim has gotten cold feet and reminds him that he is a motivational speaker. After helping Jim realize that he simply is nervous and really wants Julie to be his “co-pilot” in life, the couple goes through with the wedding. The morning after they have had a wonderful time at the wedding, Alex and Ryan are about to take separate flights at the Milwaukee airport when Ryan asks her to visit him in Omaha. She hesitates, asking if he is going to change, then tells him to call her when he gets lonely. In the CTC office, Natalie shows Ryan a bank of computer screens on which a number of young employees are being trained to use video conferences to dismiss people. Ryan soon returns to Las Vegas where he has a speaking engagement with Goalquest XX, a significant step above his other clients. After starting his speech with his “what’s in your backpack?” line, he hesitates, then shakes his head and runs out. He then flies to Chicago and rushes to Alex’s house. After she answers the door and scowls, he is stunned to realize that she has a husband and two children. The next morning, as Ryan is about to board an American Airlines flight back to Omaha, Alex calls to berate him for almost ruining her real life, saying that she thought that he understood that their relationship was merely an escape. She then says that if he wants to see her again, to give her a call. During the plane ride to Omaha, a flight attendant happily announces that one of their passengers has just passed the 10,000,000 miles threshold. Maynard Finch, the airline’s head pilot, whom Ryan has long admired, sits down and awards Ryan his exclusive frequent flyer card, saying that the airline appreciates his loyalty. When Maynard asks Ryan where he is from, Ryan simply answers “I’m from here.” Back in Omaha, after Ryan calls the dedicated number on his 10,000,000 mile card and transfers 500,000 miles to Julie and Jim so that they can take a trip around the word, Craig comes into his office. He asks if Ryan remembers Karen Barnes, a woman who was fired in Wichita, because she jumped off a bridge and killed herself. When Ryan says he does not remember the case, then asks if Natalie is all right, Craig tells him that she resigned, via text message. Craig tells him that CTC is stopping the video conferencing experiment and plans to put Ryan and the other downsizers back on the road to continue what they had been doing. In San Francisco, Natalie is being interviewed by the company that had offered her the job she turned down to follow Brian. The man interviewing her shows her a glowing letter of recommendation that Ryan wrote and offers her the job. A short time later, Ryan enters the airport terminal, walks up to the departures and arrivals board and stares at it. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award
The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.