The director of Juno follows up his Oscar-nominated hit with a star vehicle for George Clooney. The film starts out funny but eventually drags, becomes wholly predictable, and has a quite lackluster ending.
As always, Clooney is charming, lively and entertaining, but this movie is only slightly above your average, run-of-the-mill, romantic dramedy. It's of course slightly above due to the fact that George Clooney is in it. All the praise and adoration has got to be because of him.
The idea is very clear. Clooney plays Ryan Bingham, a man who is hired to come into an outside company and fire people. This requires Bingham to travel by plane to cities all across the country. He is a very frequent flyer.
Bingham lives his whole middle-aged life out of a small suitcase and with credit cards that earn him mileage points. His home is a weird combination of airports and hotel rooms. He probably knows every single major terminal in the United States like the back of his hand. His main problem, which he doesn't see as one, is that he lives an isolated existence.
All that changes when he meets Natalie, played by Anna Kendrick. She's a whiz with computers and technology. She figures out a way to fire people in distant cities by way of what amounts to Skype.
Internet technology threatens to ground Bingham. Bingham doesn't like this. Yet, while he's dealing with this and Natalie, he has an affair with Alex, a business-woman played by Vera Farmiga. Alex is basically the female version of Bingham.
Clooney's interaction with these two women are wonderful, well-acted scenes, but their trajectories are all so blatantly obvious that I was hoping for some surprises.
For a while, the film becomes a series of people getting fired, and there were some surprises in the responses and reactions of those people. I would later learn that Reitman used real individuals who had actually lost their jobs.
Bingham is interesting and Clooney plays him quite well. His two female co-stars are selfsame, but that interest in them quickly fades as Reitman reverts back to rom-com conventions. Where the characters end up is exactly where you'd expect and their end-movie realizations can be seen coming a mile away.
Three Stars out of Five
Rated R for language and some sexual content
Running Time: 1 hr. and 49 mins.