Tuesday, December 29, 2009


I went home for the holi-daze and my mom, whom I love, continues to be intentionally, and unintentionally funny.

A few examples:

1. My mom asked me to help her with cellphone. I asked, "What's the problem?" She said, "I can't seem to ever hear it when it rings." I said, "Let me take a look at it." She shrugged, "I don't have it on me."

2. Right before I vacated the Emerald City, my dad, mom, and I went to Vintage Northwest (chairs, television, booze, and the distracted visages of travelers) Bar in the airport. When my mom ordered a drink, the bartender asked for her ID. My mother turned 62 last Tuesday. Yes, she's a good looking woman who looks barely 50, but she is not a someone you'd need to ID. My mom said, "I didn't bring my ID. I'm fucking 62 years old." The bartender, slightly stooped and blessed with an irritating smugness only those in love with their terrible jobs can convey, shrugged his shoulders and said, "I can't serve you then, sorry." My mom said, "Jesus, I'm fucking 62." My dad, smooth as ice, said, "Well, I'd like to order two beers then." The bartender, blank and in power, said, "Nope, can't let you do that." My mom, like a sixteen year old at a Christmas party, spent the rest of the time, warily watching the bartender and sneaking drinks from my dad's warm beer. This is a Sander's tradition, if something like this can happen, it does.

She's a lovely lady, but I was thinking about Seattle and what stuck out and as usual it's my mother and her antics.

Up In The Air

I'm going to lay it out there: Up In The Air is easily the most overrated film of 2009. I can already see it's accolades, it's Oscar noms, Clooney taking the gold, it's inclusion on every savvy critic's best of list, but I'll say it again, Up In The Air is a ball of bluster, an overlong, painfully sappy fluff-ball, held together by a typically brilliant performance by George Clooney.

I'll say this, I was seated, as per usual, next to the lovely Alex during the film, and some twenty minutes in to it she leaned over to me and whispered, "I hate this movie." Thus, there was a general air of dislike oozing over me throughout.

But, transparency revealed, this movie is pretty hard to get through. George Clooney's Ryan Bingham is a Removal Technician, a hired gun who does the dirty work of firing large amounts of people for enormous faceless corporations. More than that though, Bingham pretty much lives in planes, airports, and the generic hotels - his only goal to reach 10 million miles in the air, so he can receive the coveted Platinum Card. When his company grounds him though, Bingham flips and the story of his fall and rise bubbles to the surface.

Yes, George Clooney is great in this role. It's a role built for him, the sort of aging charmer who seems like a snake oil salesman, but truly has a heart of gold. And I enjoyed nearly every moment of his performance, but couldn't help but think that this was the type of role he could play after drinking a handle of scotch and bareback fighting a tiger. It's nothing challenging.

And that's my main problem with this film - it doesn't challenge anything. People have been calling it "dark comedy" and yes it isn't just dick and fart jokes, but this is "dark comedy" wrapped in cotton candy. This isn't World's Greatest Dad or Big Fan, this is dark comedy-lite, the kind of stuff you can bring your family to, and they'll laugh and feel bolstered with cheer nonetheless. Up In The Air hits on each and every pained cliche possible in this sort of film, but because of some strong cinematography and the aforementioned Clooney performance, it manages to seem like a bigger, better film. Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick give strong performances as well as the injected females in Bingham's life that sort of push him in the direction of a life less traveled, but their character arcs and resolutions are broadcast a mile away from a different theatre.

All of this could be salvaged if not for the extreme length of this film. It literally just goes on and on and on and on. And hell, I watched Spartacus (105) last week, a film that surehandedly exists for four hours, and this film felt longer. I can only be bathed in pure unadulterated sap for so long before I think about spearing myself in the eye with a pin.

I can't say I hated this film, as anything with Clooney will at least illicit a smile, but this isn't the film that everyone's making it out to be. I'm sure I'll be defending my stance ad nauseum come award season.

1 comment:

Mark said...

I agree that "Up in the Air" is overrated. It had moments of greatness, but overall, I left the theater disappointed. Though, had I walked into it with fewer expectations, had there been less hype, perhaps I would have enjoyed it more. Beyond the critics crowning it the"best movie of the year", I also expected a quirkier movie from the director of "Juno" and "Thanks You for Smoking". I like quirky.

Have you seen "Avatar"?