Up In The Air

14Jul09

Edit: Link taken down

Genre: Drama
Premise: A professional who specializes in “career transition counseling” is on the verge of accumulating 5 million frequent flier miles.
About: Based on the novel by Walter Kirn, this was adpated and is being directed by Jason Reitman (Juno) for a release later this year. It will star George Clooney, Jason Bateman, and Vera Farmiga. The script was a hot property last year when Leonardo DiCaprio got attached and it later landed on the Black List. Because Reitman is both the writer and director, there’s a good chance this draft stayed relatively intact.
Writer: Jason Reitman (originally adapted by Sheldon Turner)


I put this one off because I’m the anti-frequent flier. I fly once or twice a year and I hate every second of it. I’m kinda fascinated by these people who spend their entire lives on airplanes, in rented cars, in hotel rooms, because I always ask myself: What are they running from? Clearly, if they liked their lives, they’d be home more, right? That seems to be the inspiration behind the character of Ryan, played by George Clooney.

Clooney’s flyin high

Ryan is a man so appalled by the notion of “home”, he couldn’t tell you his address if you spotted him the first three numbers. Ryan’s priority is and always has been his work. Companies hire him to come in and do their housecleaning. And Ryan, who has the process down to a science, can fire 30 people in a day and not bat an eye. It’s not that he’s cruel. He genuinely cares about these people and their futures. But he loves the wonderful lifestyle this always-on-the-move job provides him. Ryan is perpetually 33,000 feet above you, me, and everyone else.

Recently, Ryan’s found himself approaching the 5,000,000 mile frequent flier mark. Only 7 people in history have ever achieved it at the airline and Ryan’s about to become the 8th. Reaching this point gets you ridiculous perks like your name on a plane and the kind of celebrity treatment reserved only for – well, for celebrities. Ryan purchases nothing or does nothing unless it increases this ever-escalating total of miles.

Unfortunately, Ryan’s high flying lifestyle is about to make a ditch landing in the Hudson River. A brash attractive 23 year old Ivy-League grad named Natalie is hired by the company to do some cost-cutting. And Natalie comes up with a doozie. Instead of *going* to these companies to fire people, what if they could do it over video chat? Ryan is outraged by even the mention of such a practice, but his boss likes Natalie’s out-of-the-box thinking and before Ryan knows it, he’s scheduled Natalie to follow Ryan around the country for a few weeks so she can learn firsthand how to fire people. Ryan’s perfect “on-the-move” lifestyle and 5,000,000 mile achievement is about to be crushed by some ignorant 23 year old Ivy League ditz.

In the coming weeks Ryan and Natalie try their best to work together but they’re the exact opposite in every way. She hates being away from home and is eagerly anticipating her marriage. He hates being *at* home and is eagerly anticipating the day she’s not around. And no, this isn’t a Hollywood romantic comedy so you can forget about the two hooking up. Instead, the story focuses on the unlikely friendship that forms between them. They find that they do actually have one thing in common – they’re both lost souls. And no matter how much sense their current philosophies on life seem to make for them, they’re both afraid that they’re missing out on something else.

One of the better subplots of the script is Alex, the female version of Ryan, who meets up with him all over the country for layover bootie-calls. The two know very little about each other other than that they love the thrill of being on the move. Whereas Ryan and Natalie rarely agree on anything, Ryan and Alex agree on pretty much everything. It’s the ultimate no-attachments relationship.

Vera will play the part of Alex

When a family wedding starts pulling Ryan back to that ugly cloud of attachent he’s worked so hard to avoid in life, and Natalie’s words start to give him a new perspective on settling down, Ryan finally sees what everybody has known about him forever: That the 20 years he’s spent running around the country were less about embracing life and more about avoiding it. He finally understands what he’s missing and to prove it, he jumps on a plane and flies to Alex’s hometown to surprise her. He wants that commitment. But when he gets there and she opens the door, let’s just say he experiences some turbulence. And that’s what I liked most about “Up In The Air.” There’s no flight plan. And you’re never quite sure what city you’ll going to land in.

I’ll be honest. I expected to hate thing thing. Who cares if someone gets 5,000,000 frequent flier miles?? Thankfully, that whole schtick is more of a story hook than something that actually plays into the plot. The script is more about drifting and our obsession with distraction. It’s about growing up, the power of denial, is the grass really greener on the other side? It’s about selfishness and family and never knowing if you’re making the right choice.

Up In the Air really won me over in the end. It’s not perfect. It drifts a little. But in a weird way, the drifting mirrors Ryan’s life, so it kind of works. It reminded me of a more serious Jerry McGuire – and I think Cruise would’ve been a better fit than both DiCaprio or Clooney. But if Clooney can pull this off, he may be up for some awards come Oscar time (it shouldn’t be hard. How many nominations do they have now? 30?) This is the film that “The Terminal” wanted to be and one of my most anticipated flicks of the winter.

Link: Up In The Air (link taken down)

[ ] trash
[ ] barely kept my interest

[ ] worth the read

[x] impressive

[ ] genius

What I learned: Is 110 the new 120? – Up In The Air may clock in at 124 pages but that’s because Jason Reitman only has to impress himself. I have been seeing so many 100-110 page spec scripts lately. It’s so rare that one of the chunkier ones sneaks through that you begin to wonder if 120 is becoming the screenplay equivalent of standard definition. Of course, thrillers and comedies are naturally shorter. If you’re writing a drama, you can eek into 110+ territory. But I’d still look to keep it under 110. Readers are just used to it. And after being yelled at and ridiculed for 9 hours, these poor souls have to go home and read 3 professional scripts before they reach yours – the unknown writer – the one script they’ve been dreading and the one they know if they don’t like by page 20, they’re getting some shuteye. So don’t give them a reason to tune out before they’ve tuned in.

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62 Responses to “Up In The Air”

  1. 1 Phil

    Question : Great script or not, who wants to watch a movie about someone who fires people for a living?

  2. 2 Phil

    Question : Great script or not, who wants to watch a movie about someone who fires people for a living?

  3. 3 Lumi

    Another Clooney oscar bait. I heard Clooney might be interested in playing Jack Ryan of Tom Clancy fame. I think I'm more excited about seeing that come to life than reading this script.

  4. 4 Lumi

    Another Clooney oscar bait. I heard Clooney might be interested in playing Jack Ryan of Tom Clancy fame. I think I'm more excited about seeing that come to life than reading this script.

  5. 5 Carson Reeves

    The firing thing only comes up in the beginning. After that it's more about his and Natalie's time on the road.

    And I don't think the script is great. It's definitely good though.

    Lumi, it sounds like Amy Pascal is more interested in Clooney becoming Jack Ryan than Clooney is interesting in Clooney becoming Jack Ryan. Not sure how I feel about him in that role. The age feels right. But do I believe Clooney as a leader of anything?

  6. 6 Carson Reeves

    The firing thing only comes up in the beginning. After that it's more about his and Natalie's time on the road.

    And I don't think the script is great. It's definitely good though.

    Lumi, it sounds like Amy Pascal is more interested in Clooney becoming Jack Ryan than Clooney is interesting in Clooney becoming Jack Ryan. Not sure how I feel about him in that role. The age feels right. But do I believe Clooney as a leader of anything?

  7. 7 Sinnycal

    I've only read a few pages, but it almost feels like it could be a sequel to Thank You For Smoking.

  8. 8 Sinnycal

    I've only read a few pages, but it almost feels like it could be a sequel to Thank You For Smoking.

  9. 9 Anonymous

    "But do I believe Clooney as a leader of anything?"

    From Dusk Till Dawn…obviously the leader of the two brother crime team, becomes the leader of his group when the locals turn into vampires
    Three Kings…leader of the crew looking for the gold
    The Perfect Storm…leader of the crew on the boat
    Ocean's 11,12,13…leader of the crew of thieves

    Plays the alpha male in several other movies.

    Obvious leader in real life. Helped create and organize that benefit after 9/11. Well respected director and producer. Led the charge on getting the live televised version of Fail Safe going.

    Sometimes your comments make me scratch my head.

  10. 10 Anonymous

    "But do I believe Clooney as a leader of anything?"

    From Dusk Till Dawn…obviously the leader of the two brother crime team, becomes the leader of his group when the locals turn into vampires
    Three Kings…leader of the crew looking for the gold
    The Perfect Storm…leader of the crew on the boat
    Ocean's 11,12,13…leader of the crew of thieves

    Plays the alpha male in several other movies.

    Obvious leader in real life. Helped create and organize that benefit after 9/11. Well respected director and producer. Led the charge on getting the live televised version of Fail Safe going.

    Sometimes your comments make me scratch my head.

  11. 11 Anonymous

    Carson,

    Just an idea. So that we can avoid the dreaded "link taken down" message you might want to consider posting your reviews at a set time. That way your readers can head on over to your blog prior to any request to take down a script being received. You don't have to post a review each day at that time but you could just give your readers an idea of the approximate time (convenient for both the east and west coasts) that you generally intend to post so we can meander over for a quick look see.

  12. 12 Anonymous

    Carson,

    Just an idea. So that we can avoid the dreaded "link taken down" message you might want to consider posting your reviews at a set time. That way your readers can head on over to your blog prior to any request to take down a script being received. You don't have to post a review each day at that time but you could just give your readers an idea of the approximate time (convenient for both the east and west coasts) that you generally intend to post so we can meander over for a quick look see.

  13. 13 PJ

    Hey, you tok the link down before I could snatch it. No fair!

  14. 14 PJ

    Hey, you tok the link down before I could snatch it. No fair!

  15. 15 Anonymous

    Why was the link taken down? I wanted to read it, see what Clooney's down to doing now.

  16. 16 Anonymous

    Why was the link taken down? I wanted to read it, see what Clooney's down to doing now.

  17. 17 Anonymous

    How did this get taken down so fast?
    I'm bummed I didn't get to read it. It's a project I've been curious about for months and it would have been cool to check it out. I hope the final film turns out well… I thought Reitman's directing was the weakest part of Juno (a film I didn't really like in the first place)

  18. 18 Anonymous

    How did this get taken down so fast?
    I'm bummed I didn't get to read it. It's a project I've been curious about for months and it would have been cool to check it out. I hope the final film turns out well… I thought Reitman's directing was the weakest part of Juno (a film I didn't really like in the first place)

  19. 19 Anonymous

    To anyone bummed they didn't get the script before the link was taken down. This was on the blacklist. It's out there.

  20. 20 Anonymous

    To anyone bummed they didn't get the script before the link was taken down. This was on the blacklist. It's out there.

  21. 21 anthuswilliams

    Everybody, I found a link to Up in the Air, where you can still get it. It's got all the 08 blacklist scripts available for download, including this one.

    I think this link should work.
    You can thank me later.

  22. 22 anthuswilliams

    Everybody, I found a link to Up in the Air, where you can still get it. It's got all the 08 blacklist scripts available for download, including this one.

    I think this link should work.
    You can thank me later.

  23. 23 anthuswilliams
  24. 24 anthuswilliams
  25. 25 Anonymous

    Anthus, the bummed one thanks you. Do you know of any links to scripts from previous blacklists?

  26. 26 Anonymous

    Anthus, the bummed one thanks you. Do you know of any links to scripts from previous blacklists?

  27. 27 anthuswilliams

    I have the list itself, but I don't have any compendium where you can get all the scripts. I'm relatively new to the game; I've only been writing screenplays since fall of '07, and I wasn't hoarding scripts at that time. Sorry I can't help you there.

  28. 28 anthuswilliams

    I have the list itself, but I don't have any compendium where you can get all the scripts. I'm relatively new to the game; I've only been writing screenplays since fall of '07, and I wasn't hoarding scripts at that time. Sorry I can't help you there.

  29. 29 Anonymous

    Wow, awesome link anthus. Muchas thanks.

  30. 30 Anonymous

    Wow, awesome link anthus. Muchas thanks.

  31. 31 Anonymous

    It might be safer for the site if the script link wasn't re-posted in the comments.

  32. 32 Anonymous

    It might be safer for the site if the script link wasn't re-posted in the comments.

  33. 33 Anonymous

    Link either of them, not working. Sticks on "loading"

  34. 34 Anonymous

    Link either of them, not working. Sticks on "loading"

  35. 35 Anonymous

    Carson obviously took the script link down for a good reason.

    Do you people WANT the blog to be taken down? It's already a wonder he's gotten away with posting scripts (which he has no legal right to do) for as long as he has.

  36. 36 Anonymous

    Carson obviously took the script link down for a good reason.

    Do you people WANT the blog to be taken down? It's already a wonder he's gotten away with posting scripts (which he has no legal right to do) for as long as he has.

  37. 37 karaff

    Carson, the name of the author of the original source novel is Walter Kirn, not Kim.

    Thanks for the review.

  38. 38 karaff

    Carson, the name of the author of the original source novel is Walter Kirn, not Kim.

    Thanks for the review.

  39. 39 Steve the Creep

    I met Reitman in college, and I was impressed by (and jealous of) him from the start.

  40. 40 Steve the Creep

    I met Reitman in college, and I was impressed by (and jealous of) him from the start.

  41. 41 Anonymous

    I read this a while back and pretty much agreed with Carson on everything. It was good, but it wasnt great.

    anthuswilliams- the link you gave out with all of the scripts on the blacklist just made my summer. Thank you SO much!

    ~Maureen~

  42. 42 Anonymous

    I read this a while back and pretty much agreed with Carson on everything. It was good, but it wasnt great.

    anthuswilliams- the link you gave out with all of the scripts on the blacklist just made my summer. Thank you SO much!

    ~Maureen~

  43. 43 Ryan Jackson

    I see that Sheldon Turner's name has been removed from the script completely, when who adapted it to screenplay and sold it to Jason' father Ivan.

  44. 44 Ryan Jackson

    I see that Sheldon Turner's name has been removed from the script completely, when who adapted it to screenplay and sold it to Jason' father Ivan.

  45. 45 Anonymous

    Link works now, thanks!

  46. 46 Anonymous

    Link works now, thanks!

  47. 47 Anonymous

    The script is self-indulgent, self-important, and glib. And it's a perfect tone! As the star of the movie won't even have to act to nail the part.

    DON

  48. 48 Anonymous

    The script is self-indulgent, self-important, and glib. And it's a perfect tone! As the star of the movie won't even have to act to nail the part.

    DON

  49. 49 anthuswilliams

    Bt dubs, Carson, I did realize you may run into some trouble with my posting the link, and I hope that's not the case.

    The thing about this link, is that I thought it was safe to post, because it's appeared in a couple other screenwriting blogs over the course of the year. When Hollywood execs want the script taken down, they contact Media Fire, who then contacts this particular host, who then removes the file. This is what happened with 47 Ronin, which is not available there anymore. No one assumed it was the responsibility of Ain't It Cool News, and the other types of sites who reviewed it and linked to it to take their links down. They just contacted the host.

    Anyway, that's why I thought it might be safe to post. I really don't want to cause trouble for you, so if the link is a problem, feel free to moderate the hell out of my comments.

  50. 50 anthuswilliams

    Bt dubs, Carson, I did realize you may run into some trouble with my posting the link, and I hope that's not the case.

    The thing about this link, is that I thought it was safe to post, because it's appeared in a couple other screenwriting blogs over the course of the year. When Hollywood execs want the script taken down, they contact Media Fire, who then contacts this particular host, who then removes the file. This is what happened with 47 Ronin, which is not available there anymore. No one assumed it was the responsibility of Ain't It Cool News, and the other types of sites who reviewed it and linked to it to take their links down. They just contacted the host.

    Anyway, that's why I thought it might be safe to post. I really don't want to cause trouble for you, so if the link is a problem, feel free to moderate the hell out of my comments.

  51. 51 Carson Reeves

    I see Clooney as kind of a goofball. I wouldn't personally follow him into anything. But that's just me. πŸ™‚

  52. 52 Carson Reeves

    I see Clooney as kind of a goofball. I wouldn't personally follow him into anything. But that's just me. πŸ™‚

  53. 53 Carson Reeves

    As far as Link Taken Downs go: You guys can sign up for Scriptshadow on Facebook or Scriptshadow on Twitter (both links at top of site) where I post immediately when a new review goes up. If you don't like either, I tend to post at midnight pacific time.

  54. 54 Carson Reeves

    As far as Link Taken Downs go: You guys can sign up for Scriptshadow on Facebook or Scriptshadow on Twitter (both links at top of site) where I post immediately when a new review goes up. If you don't like either, I tend to post at midnight pacific time.

  55. 55 Anonymous

    Yeah, you're right, it is just you.

  56. 56 Anonymous

    Yeah, you're right, it is just you.

  57. 57 Ricky J

    This is what I like about your site, Carson. After reading that premise about the 5,000,000 miles I was like, Who cares? But after reading your full review I was like, I do! And Clooney seems great for this because he's somewhat like this in his real life with the staunch 'not getting married again or having kids' thing.

  58. 58 Ricky J

    This is what I like about your site, Carson. After reading that premise about the 5,000,000 miles I was like, Who cares? But after reading your full review I was like, I do! And Clooney seems great for this because he's somewhat like this in his real life with the staunch 'not getting married again or having kids' thing.

  59. 59 Carson Reeves

    Oh yeah that's true. I hadn't thought of that. That makes sense why he connected to the character so much.

  60. 60 Carson Reeves

    Oh yeah that's true. I hadn't thought of that. That makes sense why he connected to the character so much.

  61. 61 Anonymous

    Really dug this script, but I'm kind of a sucker for anything with Jason Reitman's name in it. Kept Clooney in mind when I was reading and I liked it, sort of had a fast-talking "O Brother" feel in my brain. I imagined Craig Gregory as JK Simmons given the director, but Bateman will fill those shoes pretty well. Excited to see it.

  62. 62 Anonymous

    Really dug this script, but I'm kind of a sucker for anything with Jason Reitman's name in it. Kept Clooney in mind when I was reading and I liked it, sort of had a fast-talking "O Brother" feel in my brain. I imagined Craig Gregory as JK Simmons given the director, but Bateman will fill those shoes pretty well. Excited to see it.


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