Make a note so that you can tell your children where you were when Jason Reitman, on his third feature film, ascended to the heights of Cinematic Olympus. His new movie, a plucky little film starring a nobody named George Clooney, has earned him comparisons to no less a luminary than Billy Wilder, perhaps one of the greatest film directors and writers of all time. I haven’t seen the film that garnered these superlatives from noted film historians like The Child from First Showing and Some Guy From USA Today, but I have seen Reitman’s previous two pictures, Thank You For Smoking and Juno, both of which I liked and neither of which are Wilder-esque. They’re maybe Cameron Crowe-esque, and Cameron Crowe is like Billy Wilder with all his teeth removed (again, I say that as someone who really, really likes Cameron Crowe’s pictures).
Anyway, Up In the Air is getting remarkable notices from a couple of people I trust (like Anne Thompson, formerly of Variety) and plenty more who I most seriously do not. I do hope that the film is good, and everything I’ve seen indicates that ‘very good’ is a bet any reasonable punter would make. But great? Billy Wilder-esque? I’d like to see the film before really buying into all the hype, but I’d also like to see a middle of the road mainstream talent like Reitman step up in a major way. It’s always exciting when a filmmaker enters a new arena; maybe Up In the Air is Reitman doing that.