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(2009), R [R*] (103 min)

Final Score
Analysis Date
Date Posted
Influence Density
March 18, 2010
March 22, 2010

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(While the Scriptural references are certainly not subjective, my commentary may be and sometimes is somewhat subjective.)

If Scriptural references appear, the full text appears at the end of the Summary / Commentary.

(2009), R [R*] ... is the "occasionally."

Cast/Crew Details Courtesy Internet Movie Database
Production (US): Paramount Pictures, Cold Spring Pictures, DW Studios, The Montecito Picture Company, Rickshaw Productions, Right of Way Film  •  Distribution (US): Paramount Home Entertainment (DVD 2010)  •  Director(s): Jason Reitman  •  Producer(s): Ali Bell, Michael Beugg, Jason Blumenfeld, Jeffrey Clifford, Daniel Dubiecki, Helen Estabrook, Ted Griffin, Joe Medjuck, Tom Pollock, Ivan Reitman, Jason Reitman  •  Writing Credits: Screenpaly - Jason Reitman, Sheldon Turner. Novel - Walter Kirn  •  Cinematography/Camera: Eric Steelberg  •  Music: Rolfe Kent  •  Film Editing: Dana E. Glauberman  •  Casting: Mindy Marin  •  Production Design: Steve Saklad  •  Art Direction: Andrew Max Cahn  •  Viewed on Paramount Home Entertainment DVD

The mathematical integrity and functional continuity of our analysis model requires ongoing sampling of all ratings covered by the model during development and testing. Specifically we must conduct analyses of G, PG, PG-13 and R(a) films. Therefore I must at least occasionally conduct analysis of an R-rated film. Up in the Air is an "occasionally." Typically because of content I prefer films PG-13 and less severe but since our model was built incorporating G, PG, PG-13 and R we may not now exclude one of the ratings on which the model was built without corrupting the functionality of analyses of other classifications. Note, however, that our analysis model never has included NC-17/X or more severe ratings and will not include them now.
(a) G, PG, PG-13, R, NC-17 and X are trademarks of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).

The MPAA says Up in the Air is rated R because of "language and some sexual content." The CAP analysis model finds it is R because of the sexual content because of the language content ... and because of the drugs/alcohol content. The film earned R-equivalent scores (54 and below out of 100) in each of the investigation areas for sex, language and alcohol. As far as abuse of God's name goes the film earned a "hardcore" PG-13-equivalent score. In violence the film earned PG-equvalence. In murder the film earned G-equvalence.

"They call me the wanderer, yeah I'm a wanderer, I go around around around around." That 1961 song by Dion fits Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) to a tee. But where Dion used a car, Bingham used an airplane. As a contractor to fire people from their jobs, Bingham spent 322 days last year going "around around around around" without any attachments or "luggage."

Bingham is also a motivational speaker who compares people and property to the contents of a backpack. His outlook is the more content one stuffs in that backpack the harder it is to get around. His teaching is to have less and less in your backpack. That is the way he lives. His speaking was for the listeners to envision putting on an empty backpack and feel the straps on their shoulders. He told them to now start putting all your possessions in it: your knick knacks on the shelves, your wardrobe, your silverware, your TV, your linen, your ... It's getting heavy isn't it? It is getting harder to get around. Now put the rest of you belongings in it: your bed, your dishwasher, your car, your house. Now you cannot even walk. Now empty the backpack and fill it with all the people close to you. His point is that all those attachments weigh one down and restrict freedom. A rather clever work up of the writers, don't you think?

However, on one of his wandering escapades Alex Goran (Vera Farmiga) comes along. Goran is a noble Greek boy's name meaning farmer. But as far as use of it in a movie script goes it seems it may be a clever and pointed stage name, pointed only because it resembles Gorgon which befits the Alex character. Gorgon is any one of the three sisters with snakes for hair that turned to stone anyone who looked at one of them. The second definition for Gorgon is a fierce, frightening or repulsive woman. Alex certainly was fierce in her relentless barrage to put Bingham where she wanted him. And fiercely successful at it. Frightening and repulsive? They come later.

But this Gorgon came along with sexual enticement instead of snakes for hair. Bingham and Alex meet in a bar. They chat about their schedules, their charge cards and her flexibility in an airplane bathroom. Then they go to his room ...

Now Bingham has content in his backpack, content that starts to change his outlook on life and steal some of his freedom -- by his own choice. Or was it Alex's hair? In fact, as he began one of his backpack motivational speaking engagements, after about one paragraph Bingham leaves and flies off with his backpack to meet Alex unannounced. And what to his wandering eyes should appear? Two kids. Alex's children. Alex is married! After numerous sack sessions with Alex, Bingham finds she is married! Bingham was under the impression after multiple sack sessions and pillow confessions that he surely meant something to her. He did mean something to her -- but no more than a parenthesis, something to snuggle with on her business trips, an away-from-home honey.

While the core of the story was to bring a self-proclaimed independent man to realize he is dependent in ways he does not know, I found the film depressing. It relied heavily on the current state of double-digit unemployment. And being a victim of that economy the story hit a little too close to home. I haven't had a steady paycheck for years and have become worse than what the Bible calls an infidel. [1 Tim. 5:8]

Wanton Violence/Crime (W) - 84 out of 100
After one of the firing sessions a disgruntled employee stalks a business building with an assault rifle. Vengeance that the disgruntled employee was clearly seeking is not his to have. Vengeance is mine sayeth the Lord. It is His to repay, not ours. [Rom. 12:19] Later in the film the doom dou (Bingham, the bearer of professional death and his assistant, Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick)) and Alex steal ID cards to crash a party that requires lanyard ID to get it. Bingham and Alex break and enter into his old school. That is it for the violence/crime content. But that is enough.

Impudence/Hate (I) - Zero out of 100
Forty one times someone utters a form of profanity [Col. 3:8], 21 of them the most foul of the foul words [Eph. 5:4], apparently the favorite word of R-rated filmmakers. That and a racist comment plus a lie is all there is to the impudence/hate content.

But 41 uses of some form of the three/four letter word vocabulary is enough to drain the entire 100 starting points in this investigation area to zero, just like many R-rated films (and most of today's PG-13 films). One day everyone will understand and accept that God will hold accountable each of we who speak such profanity. And one of the beauties of His Word is that I can share it with you without being a hypocrite as long as I do not feel I can hold myself above His Word. And you can share His Word, too. But woe is surely for you if you situationally redefine, counterfeit or conditionally apply His Word to suit some agenda.

Sexual Immorality (S) - Zero out of 100
The cinematic male-female predator tables turned in this film. This time it is the female who uses the make as a toy or a possession. Alex assumes the stereotypical role of the traveling salesman using Bingham as her paramour of port ... any port she can shack up with him as long as it is away from her husband and family. And, of course, she is as arrogant about it as God describes the adulteress in Prov. 30:20. Alex thinks of herself as entirely righteous to use men sexually.

Indeed almost every piece of celluloid made since 1955 with Rebel without a Cause is in some way to some level culpable for some manner of creating sexual dissonance, challenge of wholesome innate inhibition or rebellion against sexual humility or normalcy ... since Alfred C. Kinsey. God warned us about such "for by one man's disobedience ..." proselytizing influence (e.g., of a writer, a filmmaker) in Rom. 5:19. I wonder if any filmmaker will ever fulfill the second part of that verse that tells us that "by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous" and start to take advantage of the power of media to proselytize for good.

Drugs/Alcohol (D) - 22 out of 100
At east 16 times some form of booze or drinking was displayed, casually of course. Granted, it is not a sin to drink (in moderation) but it is a sin to get drunk or to influence others to get drunk. That this film is rated R does not keep minor children from seeing it. Loews Theater displayed an intermission slide in 2002 that revealed more than half of all moviegoers are minors. Our own study revealed that more than half of all non-cartoon, feature-length films are rated R or more severe. My own observations of audiences as I viewed R-rated films for the project showed not one instance when there were no minors in the audience. And the American College of Physicians found that alcohol in and as entertainment undeniably influences minors to drink without parental knowledge. Two plus two equals four even in this part of the galaxy. [Eph. 5:18, Luke 17:2]

Offense to God (O) - 55 out of 100
Twenty eight times someone abused God's name, 21 of them with the four letter expletive. Once the cornuto (see our Back to School Special) was displayed. These, together with the long-term adultery drained almost all of the starting 100 points in this investigation. Adultery is in violation of the 7th of the Ten Commandments. [Deut. 5:11, Hebr. 13:4, Exo. 20:14]

Murder/Suicide (M) - 94 out of 100
One of the fired employees threatens to commit suicide while being fired then later does though unseen. And just as the Shakespearean novel Romeo and Juliet is culpable for decisions of teenagers to commit suicide and to attempt it, such talk of suicide in this "novel" only serves to "Capulet" additional parameters of dissonance into the already unprecedented blazing fires of passion in the youth culture, fueled of course by films such as this one.


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  • 1 Tim. 5:8 But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel. [The NIV phrases it "If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever." While I am certainly not in this unemployed predicament by choice nor am I without faith nor am I an unbeliever, it is very hard to find any worth in one's self while one's wife supports the family.]
  • Rom. 12:19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
  • Rom. 5:19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. ["Man" in 'by one man's" is anthropos, meaning human being generically to include all humans individuals and can be plural.]
  • Col. 3:8 But now ye also put off [rid yourself of] all these; anger, wrath, malice [kakia: ill-will, desire to injure, wickedness, depravity, evil, trouble, not ashamed to break laws, etc.], blasphemy [blasphemia: impious and reproachful speech injurious to divine majesty], filthy communication [aischrologia:foul speaking, low and obscene speech] out of your mouth.
  • Eph. 5:4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.
  • Prov. 30:20 This is the way of an adulteress [or adulterer]: She eats and wipes her mouth and says, 'I've done nothing wrong.' [Though this verse uses "adulteress" to make its point, the heart of the matter is the arrogance of "What's the big deal!" or "It's okay sometimes" defense of sexual immorality (or any other wrong-doings). This verse makes an 'adulter/ess' of many filmmakers and performers, thinking they can demonstrate moral impurity then "eats and wipes his/her mouth and says s/he has done no wrong."]
  • Eph. 5:18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. [Since "drunk" is methusko {meth-oos'-ko}: to intoxicate; make drunk; to get drunk; become intoxicated, "wine" can be any intoxicating substance including illegal drugs or abuse of prescription drugs. The issue is do not abuse the body by intoxicating it [1 Cor. 6:19].
  • 1 Cor. 6:19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
  • Deut. 5:11 Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain: for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh His name in vain. [Vain is shav {shawv}: emptiness, nothingness, vanity, such as an expletive. With or without the four letter expletive, the use of God's name in any way other than respect, reverence or responsible discussion is in vain. That includes the popular three syllable sentence with His name trailing it AND the misuse of Jesus' name or title. So, trying to excuse such expressions with "I was talking TO God/Jesus when I said that" or It's just words" or "I was acting" will not work with Him.]
  • Hebr. 13:4 Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure [which includes before AND during marriage AND gender], for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. [Whether we believe it or not. Whether we like it or not. Whether we care or not.]
  • Exo. 20:14 You shall not commit adultery.

    ***Selected Scriptures of Armour against the influence of the entertainment industry***
  • Jer. 37:9 This is what the LORD says: Do not deceive yourselves, thinking, 'The Babylonians [the destroyers from within] will surely leave us.' They will not!
  • Ps. 12:8 The wicked freely strut about [e.g., create progressively vile/offensive entertainment with impunity and no consequences and present it to younger and younger audiences every year] when what is vile is honored among men [when enough people continue to defend it, embrace it, enjoy it, want it, submit to it. I call attention to Ps. 12:8 to warn of the creeping desensitizing power of "entertainment."]
  • Col. 2:8 Beware lest any man [by his influence] spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
  • 1 Cor. 15:33 Be not deceived: evil [kakov: of a bad nature, not such as it ought to be] communications corrupt good manners.
  • Rom. 5:19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
  • Jude 1:4 For there are certain men* crept in unawares [secretly slipped in among us], who were before of old ordained to this condemnation [whose condemnation was written about long ago], ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness [a license for immorality], and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. [*men: anthropos {anth'-ro-pos}, generic, a human being, whether male or female]
  • Matt. 25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
  • Luke 17:2 It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. [Offend: skandalizo {skan-dal-id'-zo} - scandalize; to entice to sin; to cause a person to begin to distrust and desert one whom he ought to trust and obey; to cause to fall away.]
  • Ps. 119:133 Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me [let no sin rule over me].
  • John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
  • 1 Thess. 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil. ["Evil" includes all things that are sinful.]


    As always, it is best to refer to the Findings/Scoring section -- the heart of the CAP analysis model -- for the most complete assessment possible of this movie.
    (The objective heart of the CAP Analysis Model, independent of and insulated from the Summary / Commentary section.)

    Up in the Air (2009) CAP Thermometers

    Wanton Violence/Crime (W) - 84 out of 100
  • disgruntled employee stalking with an assault rifle
  • threat to commit suicide
  • falsification of personal identification
  • breaking and entering

    Impudence/Hate (I) - Zero out of 100
  • 41 uses of profanity, 21 of them the most foul of the foul words
  • racist comment
  • lies

    Sexual Immorality (S) - Zero out of 100
  • anatomical reference, repeatedly
  • euphemism of oral sex
  • long conversation about immoral intercourse mid-flight
  • cohabitation for sex, frequent
  • full rear female nudity
  • intercourse aftermath, repeatedly
  • adult in underwear, repeatedly
  • more talk of immoral intercourse and other immoral sex, repeatedly
  • euphemism of intercourse, repeatedly
  • reference to male erection
  • suggestion to masturbate, male and female
  • sexting
  • euphemism of male member, repeatedly
  • admission of experimenting with lesbianism
  • vulgar pose
  • man and woman making out
  • inappropriate touch
  • admission of immoral sex, repeatedly
  • offer to continue adultery
  • soliloquy of excusing adultery and the inherent immoral sex

    Drugs/Alcohol (D) - 22 out of 100
  • bar, repeatedly
  • booze, repeatedly
  • drinking, repeatedly
  • use of booze to ease pain
  • illegal offer of prescription drug

    Offense to God (O) - 55 out of 100
  • 28 uses of God's name in vain, 21 with the four lettr expletive
  • long-term adultery
  • conrnuto

    Murder/Suicide (M) - 94 out of 100
    • suicide (unseen)

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    There are some in the entertainment industry who maintain that 1) violent programming is harmless because no studies exist that prove a connection between violent entertainment and aggressive behavior in children, and 2) young people know that television, movies, and video games are simply fantasy. Unfortunately, they are wrong on both accounts." And "Viewing violence may lead to real life violence." I applaud these associations for fortifying 1 Cor. 15:33. Read the rest of the story. From our years of study, I contend that other aberrant behaviors, attitudes, and expressions can be inserted in place of "violence" in that statement. Our Director - Child Psychology Support, a licensed psychologist and certified school psychologist concurs. For example, "Viewing arrogance against fair authority may lead to your kids defying you in real life." Or "Viewing sex may lead to sex in real life." Likewise and especially with impudence, hate and foul language. I further contend that any positive behavior can be inserted in place of "violence" with the same chance or likelihood of being a behavior template for the observer; of being incorporated into the behavior mechanics and/or coping skills of the observer. In choosing your entertainment, please consider carefully the "rest of the story" and our findings.

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