Quote:
Originally posted by Lorna:
Up in the Air...But while there were a lot of really funny things in the movie, I'm wondering if it's a comedy at all.
Oh, yes, it's a comedy all right.

**********SPOILER -- Jon, don't read this******

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Comedy has a certain pattern, and Up in the Air follows it. First a status quo is illustrated -- a way of living, a point of view shared by the principal characters. Ryan loves his life as a perpetual traveler, never stopping long enough to put down roots. Next, a disrupter is brought into the scene, someone who introduces an unwanted change. In this case it's Natalie, whose modernized method of firing employees would put an end to the status quo that Ryan so openly enjoys. Then come numerous ups and downs that can come to a stop in one of two ways. The disrupter can be absorbed into the body of the status quo, requiring a big change in the disrupter. That does not happen. The other way is to exile the disrupter so everyone else can return to the status quo. That does happen. Natalie gets fed up and quits. Our last view of her is her back as she walks away from the camera, dragging one more suitcase through one more airport.

This is where the movie throws us a curve. Ryan gets his status quo back, but he's not sure he wants it any more. And that's Alex's doing, not Natalie's. The old way of life just doesn't seem as satisfying as it once did. So it's a tarnished victory at best, the same way his relationship with Alex is now tarnished. No solid closure here, which you expect in traditional comedy. The possibility for closure exists, but it's left you know where.

Two sidebars. First, the blubbering bride in the wedding that almost didn't happen -- that was Melanie Lynskey, who played Pauline in Heavenly Creatures (her first acting job).

Next, the movie begins and ends with interviews with employees who'd been sacked. The interviews at the beginning are filled with anger, shock, dismay. But a note of cautious hope can be heard in the final interviews; the ex-employees are beginning to heal -- a proper note for a comedy to end on. Did you know those people are not actors? They're real former employees who got the boot in the same way pictured in the movie. Remarkable.