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Up In The Air: The Ultimate Travel Movie?

One of my family's Christmas traditions is to go see a movie together. 

This year, a consensus was formed around George Clooney's new one, Up In The Air. 

I rarely go to the theater to see movies anymore, however, I was curious to see this one as it was being mentioned a lot on Twitter (and 99% of the people I follow on Twitter live and breathe all things “travel”).

The movie revolves around Clooney's character, who spends 300+ days a year crisscrossing the United States by plane in order to lay people off at corporations. 

I'm sure business travelers and frequent fliers will get a kick out of the meticulous approach the character has developed toward efficiently moving in, around, and out of airports. 

While I still prefer a backpack to rolling luggage, I could appreciate his appreciation for being able to travel with only one carry on bag. 

It's liberating, though increasingly difficult as airport security rules continue to change.

And his goal for accumulating frequent flier miles is hard for this flier to imagine, yet apparently people have reached the figure in real life.

The monologue in the trailer above caught my attention when it was recited early in the movie because you don't normally associate backpacks with business travelers. 

Yet the message being delivered was right up my alley, “moving is living” and material possessions have a way of weighing you down. 

Meanwhile, the approach to the trailer itself seems to seriously underplay the role of relationships in the movie.

Clooney's character has two worth noting. The first is a petite young woman who is told to shadow him as he goes about the business of firing people, one by one. 

The second is a liaison he develops with another business traveler, a woman that purports to be the female version of him (meaning comfortable with no-strings-attached sex). 

As the movie unfolds, Clooney's character and unique approach toward lifestyle design is challenged by both of these new ladies in his life.

There were many poignant moments in the movie. Two stand out the most to me. 

First, while Clooney is trying to help a newly fired guy see the bright side of his situation, he talks about how the situation is an opportunity for the guy to revisit his love of cooking, versus finding another soulless office job. 

I could relate to this, not that my last job was soulless, but it wasn't my life's passion. 

The dialogue in this scene reminded me of Gary Vaynerchuk's book, Crush It!

In a later scene, Clooney is talking to his sister's fiance who experiences last-minute cold feet about the wedding. 

Despite all the traveling Clooney does, his rootless existence, the perceived lack of long term relationships, and his distant family connections, he still finds it in himself to say that experiences are better when shared. 

This was the #1 lesson I learned on my RTW trip. As much as I enjoy the feeling of independence when backpacking alone, I'm rarely alone. 

In fact, more often than not, I'm seeking out new friends and connections everywhere I go because I relish the companionship they offer, however brief at times.

Is Up In The Air the ultimate travel movie?

No, I don't think so.  And it's not the happiest movie either.  However, I thought it was worth the price of admission for the story, the cast, including George Clooney, Jason Batemen, Vera Farmiga, and Anna Kendrick, and the soundtrack.

Planning a trip? Go Backpacking recommends:

Teisha Varnedoe

Friday 29th of October 2010

I definitely enjoyed this post. We (as a community), appreciate it. I own a similar blog on this subject. Do you mind if I link to this write-up on my site?


Monday 4th of January 2010

I watched the trailer for Somewhere and it looked good. It appears that you can rent it through Netflix though that doesn't help you in Ecuador.


Monday 4th of January 2010

Carl- Did you ever get to see the movie "Somewhere" as well? It was made by the same people and was their first movie but I can't find it anywhere on DVD. Seemed like a kick-ass flick and below is the movie title description. There was some info about it in the link you posted for "The Art of Travel."

Somewhere (2004)Thousands of miles from home, American travelers Ben (Brian LaBelle) and Lauri (Laura Mazur) meet and soon become smitten. As the couple travels through Thailand and Malaysia, they begin questioning the direction of their lives and explore the possibility of a future together. This compelling love story showcases an abundance of beautiful locations including Buddhist temples, public markets and pristine beaches.

Starring: Laura Mazur, Brian LaBelleDirector: Thomas WhelanGenre: Drama


Wednesday 30th of December 2009

Wow, that's surprising considering they do appear to get around in thetrailer, and there are some quality actors (I'm a Brooke Burke fan).

I think I'll buy it on DVD, I got a Cox letter after trying to nab TrueBlood earlier this year, so I'm trying to be good (for now).


Wednesday 30th of December 2009

I haven't seen the movie yet, but those who have have told me that it reminded them a lot of Briefcase to Backpack. Maybe George Clooney's character could have used us as a resource for those he was laying off ;)

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