Up In the Air (2009)

Reitman and Sheldon Turner crafted this American comedy after drawing inspiration from a 2001 novel, Up in the Air. The film features other characters like Jason Bateman, Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick. The comedy was positively received by many audiences, with many applauding Reitman for the film’s direction. As a result, the film has been nominated for numerous awards and won several, including the Austin Film Critics Association (2009). 


Walter Kim, the novel’s writer, got inspired by airports, aeroplanes and five-star travellers he had previously interacted with. Interestingly, since the novel’s release, aviation themes have continued to penetrate other entertainment sectors like casino gambling. A good example of an aviation-themed casino game is the aviator game online, where participants place wagers on a plane as it taxis along a runway. The goal of the game is to cash out before the aircraft crashes. 


Ryan is employed at a human resource (HR) company specialising in employee layoffs. He is always on the move, helping employers lay off employees. Ryan is also a motivational speaker and loves to use the What’s in Your Backpack analogy to encourage people to avoid taxing relationships. As his job requires a lot of travelling, which he seems to enjoy, Ryan is ambitious of earning 10 million flyer miles with American Airlines. While flying, he meets Alex, a woman professional with whom they begin dating.

The company recalled him to their offices in Omaha, Nebraska, after Natalie Keener, a new employee, suggested to the company to reduce costs by performing layoffs online through video conferences. However, this new method seems wrong for Ryan, who thinks it is impersonal and undignified. During a video termination test, Ryan’s concerns proved valid when a laid-off employee burst into tears, and Natalie could not soothe him.

Craig Gregory, Ryan’s boss, instructs Natalie to accompany Ryan on his travels to understand the process. As they travel, Natalie confronts Ryan’s ideologies of relationships and love. Unfortunately, Natalie is discarded by her boyfriend by text as they continue the trip. Later, after learning about Ryan’s and Alex’s compatibility, Natalie challenges her colleague for not committing to Alex.

Before they travel home, Ryan and Alex go to Wisconsin for his sister Julie’s wedding and find Jim, the groom, nervous. Ryan, however, uses his motivational skills to convince Jim to continue with the wedding as planned. Later, Ryan starts questioning his ideologies, which causes him to leave the stage during a presentation. He spontaneously flies to Chicago to see Alex, only to discover she’s married and has a family.

Disappointed, he travels back home and on this journey, he crosses the 10m miles ambition. Upon arrival, Ryan met with the sad news of the demise of an employee, whom they had previously laid off. Upset with the news, Natalie steps down from her role and the video-conferencing program is stopped. She later applied to a San Francisco company and secured the job. The film ends with Ryan at an airport’s destination board, wondering where next to go.

In conclusion, Up in the Air is a good example of how studios and up-and-coming filmmakers can use aviation themes to engage fans. Consumers can expect more dynamic content incorporating such themes as the entertainment world evolves. 

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