Ryan Bingham is a corporate downsizing expert whose cherished life on the road is threatened just as he is on the cusp of reaching ten million frequent flyer miles and just after he's met the frequent-traveler woman of his dreams. Written by
Screenwriters Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner never met, nor even knew from each other during writing the screenplay. When the novel was released in 2001, Turner read it, and wrote a speculative script adaptation, which he sold to DreamWorks in 2003. However, Reitman also discovered the book, and persuaded his father Ivan to acquire the film rights. Ivan Reitman then commissioned a screenplay by Writers Ted Griffin and Nicholas Griffin, who used some elements from Turner's speculative script. Finally, Jason Reitman developed his own screenplay, by using some elements from the Griffin script, that (unbeknownst to Reitman) originated with Turner. Reitman initially claimed a single screenplay credit for himself, but the WGA ruled that he should share his credit with Turner, as certain elements of his speculative script remained in the film. See more »
When Ryan is meeting with his sister's soon-to-be-husband, he tells him he's "given up" his one-bedroom. Yet in the end montage we see shots of the inside of the apartment, implying he's still living there. (Actually in the original cut he did leave it and strike out and get a more homey place and become part of his surroundings in preparation for a life with Alex, but that sequence was later cut.) See more »
I really liked the movie, it kind of invites you to bring your own wine. There's a lot of probing into modern life and relationships, and it's up to you what you take from the film and what you feel for each of the characters. I was quite grateful for having seen Reitman's Thank You For Smoking (2005) previously, because both movies are really arch in the way they set up people in thoroughly pariah job roles and then get you to warm to them. So it didn't really come as a shock to see Clooney as an HR consultant (Ryan Bingham) whose job is to fire people in redundancy exercises where the management are too yeller, instead it rated an amused and knowing eyebrow raise.
Although a lot of the movie concerns the workplace, the disconnect between the interests of corporates and the interests of society (a link that was present historically in America, but which has been irrevocably decoupled), and how to work in that environment, the interest for me was more to do with relationships. From my male perspective there are some fairly poisonous insights into the female mind (though it may be unfair to generalise), the young Cornell grad Natalie Keener (played by Anna Kendrick) talks about her preconceptions of the man she will meet, the kind of name he will have, apparently the only thing he will love more than her is their "golden lab". The slightly older perspective from Alex Goran (played by Vera Farmiga) is that the man should be taller, should earn more, and come from a good family. To go with the aeronautical theme of the movie, the theatre should have provided some sick bags.
The main theme is, for me, pure Frank Borzage, it's about earning the right to love and be loved. In common with 80 years ago when those movies were being made, it's an onus that only weighs upon the male of the species, which makes the film a little hackneyed.
My favourite ambiguity of the film would have to be the backpack lectures that Bingham (Clooney) gives. He has a whole metaphor about everything in your life, the people, the trinkets, all the stuff you can collect, being in a backpack and weighing you down. He says that people aren't swans, they're not meant to be together forever, that they're actually sharks, who have to keep swimming continually, weighed down by nothing. I think there's an element of truth to both poles, I can see both arguments. I just love going to a Hollywood movie and not having an opinion shoved down my throat.
I had a slight problem regarding the level of realism in the film, I felt that the air-commuter lifestyle that was being shown was over-slicked, like I was watching something of a feather with The Consequences Of Love (or Giulia Doesn't Sleep At Night, two of the great modern hyper-stylised films from Italy). Nothing wrong with stylisation, except that I think Jason was trying to go for a film that had a lot of resonance with Recession America. I felt it was awkward to introduce real-life folks at the end, and also realistic looking termination assessments (or whatever they're called when you can someone), when the actors such as Clooney and Vera Farmiga were just so damned suave, as if from a different universe.
And this is to Claire.
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