Up in the Air is based on a Walter Kirn novel. As I sit down to dinner with him, Kirn has the slightly wide-eyed look of someone who realizes that the old lottery ticket he's been carrying around in his wallet is a jackpot winner.
As an audience we are rooting for the well-oiled clichè of boy meets girl. What sets Up in the Air apart is its willingness to divert from the superficial and go inside to the uncomfortable truth of life.
Up in the Air is not revolutionary and its thesis, however insightful, is not one-of-a-kind. But it is the kind of thing we used to take for granted in Hollywood. It is well-written and sharply observational.
Directed by Jason Reitman, Up in the Air puts Reitman at three for three, in terms of movies that manage to be both smart and wickedly witty. This film could easily put a second Oscar on George Clooney's mantle.