Up in the Air is definitely much closer in tone to Jason Reitman’s first film Thank You for Smoking than it is to Juno.
The film stars George Clooney as a guy named Ryan Bingham who flies all over the country and fires people. It’s a thankless existence, but he seems content with it, feeling more comfortable in airports than his own home.
Ryan’s way of life is shaken up when a determined young woman (Anna Kendrick) comes to the company with a plan that involves doing the terminations over video conferencing. Ryan takes the woman under his wing to show her the art of firing people, while at the same times he starts up a relationship with a fellow frequent traveler (Vera Farmiga).
The film can be seen in many different ways. Since Ryan’s job is to fire people, this can be seen on a commentary on the recession, especially since the people Ryan fires will probably have a tough time finding new employment afterwards. There is one seen in particular, which is particularly hard to watch.
The other major theme of the film is Ryan starting to realize how he is living a life without meaning, especially considering that his main goal in life is to reach 10 million frequent flyer miles.
In the end, while Juno was a fun movie, I really think that Jason Reitman has a niche of making these little character studies and I thought that this was a very good film.