Up in the Air

Alisa and I just got back from watching Up in the Air.  On the whole, the movie was pretty good.  I’ll not summarize the plot too much, but there are spoilers down below.

In Up in the Air, the George Clooney character is a solitary adult that has spent his lifetime travelling for business.  He’s disconnected from his family and has forsworn marriage and children.  During the film, he meets a fellow business traveller (Vira Farmiga) and they begin a no-committment relationship.  Over the course of the movie, he decides that his life is incomplete–that he’s missing out on something–and he abandons a motivation speaking gig (mid-speech, of course) to fly to Chicago and . . . well, we never get to know what he planned to do.
It turns out she’s married and George is denied his happily ever after.  I found this to be a refreshing twist on the romantic comedy, or unromantic comedy, as it turns out.
Some of the subplots were slightly more jarring, if more predictable.  The further one lives one life from the mainstream, the stranger some cultural norms become.
In this case, the redemptive power of marriage.
Clooney’s sister (Melanie Lynskey) gets married about 2/3rds the way through the movie.  Her fiance (Danny McBride) has squandered their savings on real estate scams and seems like sort-of a loser.  On the day of the wedding, he gets cold feet–citing the meaninglessness of life and the inevitability of death.   Rather than welcoming the breakup and encouraging his sister to hold out for a healthy and responsible partner, he convinces McBride that he’ll be happier with someone as his “co-pilot.”
Why not advise Lynskey and McBride to take a little while to introspect and ensure that they have identified what they would like out of life.  Maybe they could talk to a councilor, find out why death looms so large in McBride’s mind, why he’d risk their collective financial assets on risky investments, that sort of thing.  Why rush into marriage?
I know it’s silly to imagine a movie bucking both the romantic comedy happily-ever-after and the inherent value and necessity of marriage, but a guy can dream.
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