Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB. USA, 2009. Paramount Pictures, Cold Spring Pictures, DreamWorks, The Montecito Picture Company, Rickshaw Productions, Right of Way Films. Screenplay by Jason Reitman, Sheldon Turner, based on the novel by Walter Kirn. Cinematography by Eric Steelberg. Produced by Jeffrey Clifford, Daniel Dubiecki, Ivan Reitman, Jason Reitman. Music by Rolfe Kent. Production Design by Steve Saklad. Costume Design by Danny Glicker. Film Editing by Dana E. Glauberman. Academy Awards 2009. American Film Institute 2009. Golden Globe Awards 2009. Screen Actors Guild Awards 2009. Toronto International Film Festival 2009.
George Clooney spends most of his time in the air, flying from city to city in the United States and firing people whose companies’ bigwigs do not want to do it themselves. He enjoys his solitary existence, always on the move and free to make connections wherever he chooses, so he’s naturally delighted when he comes across an equally airborne businesswoman (Vera Farmiga) with whom he strikes up an intercity affair. Meanwhile, home office has just informed him that a whippersnapper of a new college graduate (Anna Kendrick) has come up with a way for their business to fire people via webcam, saving the company 95% of its travel budget and grounding all its employees in one solid place. Clooney, unwilling to accept this as a development in his business, takes Kendrick along with him on a series of jobs in order for her to understand exactly what it is that makes person-to-person contact important, while his relationship with Farmiga develops and blossoms into romance when he takes her to his sister’s wedding. There’s no doubt that Jason Reitman’s third feature film is incredibly enjoyable: the imperious tone of Thank You For Smoking and the self-conscious smugness of Juno are finally gone. His plotting, however, is still haphazard, and the film finishes about twenty minutes after it should. A central scene, in which Kendrick reveals her goals and is compared to the more balanced world view that her two older travelling partners have, is exceptional and is really the tone that the movie should keep more consistently. Unfortunately, by the time it reaches its last third and the Alexander Payne-esque wedding, we veer into sentimentality that, while never maudlin, is totally out of tune, and then keeps taking the misery further into despair by the time it finally reaches its overdue conclusion. Clooney’s performance is right on top, however, and the two ladies keep great time with him.