Up in the Air (2009 film)

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Up in the Air is a 2009 film about a man with a job that has him traveling around the country firing people. He leads an empty life out of a suitcase, until his company does the unexpected: grounds him.

Directed by Jason Reitman. Written by Sheldon Turner and Jason Reitman, based on the novel by Walter Kirn.
The story of a man ready to make a connection.

Ryan Bingham[edit]

  • How much does your life weigh? Imagine for a second that you're carrying a backpack. I want you to feel the straps on your shoulders. Feel 'em? Now I want you to pack it with all the stuff that you have in your life. You start with the little things. The things on shelves and in drawers, the knick-knacks, the collectibles. Feel the weight as that adds up. Then you start adding larger stuff, clothes, table-top appliances, lamps, linens, your TV. The backpack should be getting pretty heavy now. And you go bigger. Your couch, bed, your kitchen table. Stuff it all in there. Your car, get it in there. Your home, whether it's a studio apartment or a two bedroom house. I want you to stuff it all into that backpack. Now try to walk. It's kind of hard, isn't it? This is what we do to ourselves on a daily basis. We weigh ourselves down until we can't even move. And make no mistake, moving is living. Now, I'm gonna set that backpack on fire. What do you want to take out of it? What do you want to take out of it? Photos? Photos are for people who can't remember. Drink some ginkgo and let the photos burn. In fact, let everything burn and imagine waking up tomorrow with nothing. It's kind of exhilarating, isn't it?

    Now, this is gonna be a little difficult, so stay with me. You have a new backpack. Only this time, I want you to fill it with people. Start with casual acquaintances, friends of friends, folks around the office, and then you move into the people that you trust with your most intimate secrets. Your cousins, your aunts, your uncles, your brothers, your sisters, your parents and finally your husband, your wife, your boyfriend or your girlfriend. You get them into that backpack. And don't worry. I'm not gonna ask you to light it on fire. Feel the weight of that bag. Make no mistake - your relationships are the heaviest components in your life. Do you feel the straps cutting into your shoulders? All those negotiations and arguments, and secrets and compromises. You don't need to carry all that weight. Why don't you set that bag down? Some animals were meant to carry each other, to live symbiotically for a lifetime - star crossed lovers, monogamous swans. We are not those animals. The slower we move, the faster we die. We are not swans. We're sharks.

  • All the things you probably hate about traveling – the recycled air, the artificial lighting, the digital juice dispensers, the cheap sushi – are warm reminders that I’m home.
  • [in his seminar] Anybody who ever built an empire, or changed the world, sat where you are now. And it's because they sat there that they were able to do it.
  • [Guiding Natalie through airport check-in, walking past a row with Middle Eastern travelers] Five words: "Randomly selected for additional screening."
  • Tonight most people will be welcomed home by jumping dogs and squealing kids. Their spouses will ask about their day, and tonight they'll sleep. The stars will wheel forth from their daytime hiding places; and one of those lights, slightly brighter than the rest, will be my wingtip passing over.


Terminated Employee: [on the verge of tears] Who the fuck are you, man?
Ryan: [voiceover] Excellent question. Who the fuck am I? Poor Steve has worked here for seven years. He's never had a meeting with me before, or passed me in the hall, or told me a story in the break room. And that's because I don't work here. I work for another company that lends me out to pussies like Steve's boss, who don't have the balls to sack their own employees, and in some cases, for good reason. Because people do crazy shit when they get fired.

Female flight attendant: Do you want the cancer?
Ryan: The what?
Female flight attendant: Do you want the cancer?
Ryan: The cancer?
[The flight attendant raises her hand to reveal a can of soda.]
Female flight attendant: The can, sir?
Ryan: Oh, no, I'm fine, thank you.

Alex: [going through each others wallets] Oh, my God. I wasn't sure this actually existed. This is the American Airlines...
Ryan: It's a Concierge Key, yeah.
Alex: What is that, carbon fibre?
Ryan: Graphite.
Alex: Oh, I love the weight.
Ryan: I was pretty excited the day that bad boy came in.
Alex: I'll say. I put up pretty pedestrian numbers. 60 thousand a year, domestic.
Ryan: That's not bad.
Alex: Don't patronize me. What's your total?
Ryan: It's a personal question.
Alex: Please.
Ryan: And we hardly know each other.
Alex: Come on, show some hubris. Come on, impress me. I bet it's huge.
Ryan: You have no idea.
Alex: How big? What is it, this big? This big?
Ryan: I don't want to brag.
Alex: Oh, come on! Come on.
Ryan: Let's just say I have a number in mind and I haven't hit it yet.
Alex: This is pretty fucking sexy.
Ryan: Hope it doesn't cheapen our relationship.
Alex: We're two people who get turned on by elite status. I think cheap is our starting point.
Ryan: There's nothing cheap about loyalty.

Ryan: [on getting through airport security] Never get behind old people. Their bodies are littered with hidden metal and they never seem to appreciate how little time they have left. Bingo, Asians. They pack light, travel efficiently, and they have a thing for slip on shoes. Gotta love 'em.
Natalie: That's racist.
Ryan: I'm like my mother, I stereotype. It's faster.

Ryan: Natalie, what is it you think we do here?
Natalie: We prepare the newly unemployed for the emotional and physical hurdles of job hunting, while minimizing legal blow-back.
Ryan: That's what we're selling. It's not what we're doing.
Natalie: Okay, what are we doing?
Ryan: We are here to make limbo tolerable, to ferry wounded souls across the river of dread until the point were hope is dimly visible. And then stop the boat, shove them in the water and make them swim.

Natalie: Hungry much?
Ryan: Our business expense allots forty dollars each for dinner. I plan on grabbing as many miles as I can.
Natalie: Okay, you got to fill me in on the miles thing. What is that about? You're talking about, like, frequent flyer miles?
Ryan: You really want to know?
Natalie: I'm dying to know.
Ryan: I don't spend a nickel, if I can help it, unless it somehow profits my mileage account.
Natalie: So, what are you saving up for? Hawaii? South of France?
Ryan: It's not like that. The miles are the goal.
Natalie: That's it? You're saving just to save?
Ryan: Let's just say that I have a number in mind and I haven't hit it yet.
Natalie: That's a little abstract. What's the target?
Ryan: I'd rather not...
Natalie: Is it a secret target?
Ryan: It's ten million miles.
Natalie: Okay. Isn't ten million just a number?
Ryan: Pi's just a number.
Natalie: Well, we all need a hobby. No, I- I- I don't mean to belittle your collection. I get it. It sounds cool.
Ryan: I'd be the seventh person to do it. More people have walked on the moon.
Natalie: Do they throw you a parade?
Ryan: You get lifetime executive status. You get to meet the chief pilot, Maynard Finch.
Natalie: Wow.
Ryan: And they put your name on the side of a plane.
Natalie: Men get such hardons from putting their names on things. You guys don't grow up. It's like you need to pee on everything.

Bob: [Shows them a picture of his children, after having been informed he's been let go] What do you suggest I tell them?
Natalie: Perhaps you're overlooking the positive effects your career transition will have on your children.
Bob: The positive effects? I make about ninety grand a year, unemployment is two hundred fifty bucks a week. Is that one of your positive effects? We get to be cozier because I won't be able to pay my mortgage on my house so maybe we can move into a nice one bedroom apartment. And I guess without benefits I'll be able to hold my daughter as she suffers from her asthma that I won't be able to afford the medication for.
Natalie: Tests have shown that children under moderate trauma tend to apply themselves academically as a method of coping.
Bob: "Go fuck yourself", that's what my kids will think.
Ryan: Your kids' admiration is important to you?
Bob: Yeah of course.
Ryan: I doubt they ever admired you.
Bob: Hey, asshole, aren't you supposed to be consoling me?
Ryan: I'm not a shrink I'm a wake-up call, I see guys who work at the same company their entire lives, guys exactly like you. They clock in and they clock out and they never have a moment of happiness. You have an opportunity. This is a rebirth. If not for you, do it for your children.

Natalie: Never?
Ryan: No.
Natalie: Ever?
Ryan: No.
Natalie: You never wanna get married?
Ryan: Nope.
Natalie: Never want kids?
Ryan: Not a chance.
Natalie: Ever?
Ryan: Never. Is that so bizarre?
Natalie: Yes. Yes, it is.
Ryan: I just don't see the value in it. All right, sell it to me.
Natalie Keener: What?
Ryan: Sell me marriage.
Natalie: Okay. How about love?
Ryan: [scoffs] Okay.
Natalie: Stability. Just somebody you can count on.
Ryan: How many stable marriages do you know?
Natalie: Somebody to talk to, someone to spend your life with.
Ryan: I'm surrounded by people to talk to. I doubt that's gonna change.
Natalie: How about just not dying alone?
Ryan: Starting when I was 12, we moved each one of my grandparents into a nursing facility. My parents went the same way. Make no mistake, we all die alone. Now those cult members in San Diego, with the sneakers and the Kool-Aid, they didn't die alone. I'm just saying there are options.

Natalie: [about her fiance] He broke up with me by text message.
Ryan: Wow. That's kind of like getting fired over the Internet.
Alex Goran: What a weasly prick.
Natalie: Yeah, but what does that make me? Someone who falls for a prick.
Alex: We all fall for the prick. Pricks are spontaneous, they're unpredictable and they're fun. And then we're surprised when they turn out to be pricks.

Natalie: I thought I'd be engaged by now. I thought by 23, I'd be married, maybe have a kid, corner office by day, entertaining at night. I was supposed to be driving a Grand Cherokee by now.
Alex: Well, life can underwhelm you that way.
Natalie: Where did you think you'd be by now?
Alex: It doesn't work that way. At a certain point, you stop with the deadlines. It can be a little counter-productive.
Natalie: I don't want to say anything that is anti-feminist. I really appreciate everything that your generation did for me.
Alex: It was our pleasure.
Natalie: Sometimes it feels like, no matter how much success I have, it's not gonna matter until I find the right guy. I could have made it work. He really fit the bill, you know. White collar, 6'1, college grad, loves dogs, likes funny movies, brown hair, kind eyes, works in finance but is outdoorsy. I always imagined he'd have a single syllable name like Matt or John or Dave. In a perfect world, he drives a 4-Runner and the only thing he loves more than me is his golden lab. And a nice smile. What about you?
Alex: You know, honestly by the time you're 34, all the physical requirements just go out the window. You secretly pray that he'll be taller than you, not an asshole would be nice. Just someone who enjoys my company, comes from a good family. You don't think about that when you're younger. Someone who wants kids. Healthy enough to play with his kids. Please let him earn more money than I do, you might not understand that now but believe me, you will one day. Otherwise that's a recipe for disaster. And hopefully, some hair on his head. I mean, that's not even a deal breaker these days. A nice smile. Yeah, a nice smile just might do it.
Natalie: Wow. That was depressing.I should just start dating women
Alex: [sitting down] I tried it, we're no picnic ourselves.
Natalie: I don't mind being married to my career and I don't expect it to hold me in bed as I sleep, I just don't want to settle.
Alex: You're young, right now you see settling down as a failure.
Natalie: It is, by definition.
Alex: By the time someone is right for you it won't feel like settling and the only one to judge you will be the twenty three year old with the target on your back.

Natalie: How can you not think about that? How does it not even cross your mind that you might want a future with someone?
Ryan: It's simple; you know that moment when you look into somebody's eyes and you can feel them staring into your soul and the whole world goes quiet... just for a second?
Natalie: Yes!
Ryan: Right, well I don't.

Natalie: What happened to Alex?
Ryan: She had to leave town to get to a meeting.
Natalie: That's too bad, where's she live?
Ryan: Chicago.
Natalie: Are you going to go see her?
Ryan: We don't really have that kind of relationship.
Natalie: What kind of relationship do you have?
Ryan: Casual.
Natalie: Sounds pretty special. Do you think there's a future there?
Ryan: We never really thought about it. What's going on here?
Natalie: Really? Never thought about it?
Ryan[: No.
Natalie: How can you not think about that? How does it not cross your mind that you might want a future with someone?
Ryan: It just doesn't.
Natalie: Don't you think it's worth giving her a chance?
Ryan: A chance at what?
Natalie: A chance at something real
Ryan: Your definition of "real" is going to evolve as you get older.
Natalie: The isolation, the traveling. Is that supposed to be charming?
Ryan: No, it's simply a life choice.
Natalie: It's a cocoon of self-banishment.
Ryan: Wow, big words.
Natalie: You have a set up a way of life that basically makes it impossible for you to have any kind of human connection. And now this woman comes along and somehow runs the gauntlet of your ridiculous life choice and comes out on the other end smiling. Just so you can call her "casual"? I need to grow up? You're a twelve year old.

Ryan: I thought I was a part of your life.
Alex: I thought we signed up for the same thing... I thought our relationship was perfectly clear. You are an escape. You're a break from our normal lives. You're a parenthesis.
Ryan: I'm a parenthesis?


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