Play-Doh Alert: UP IN THE AIR

Photo Credit: Dale Robinette/Paramount Pictures 

     In May ’03, when I first started my career as a professional film critic, I coined the term “Play-Doh Part.” What is a Play-Doh Part? A Play-Doh Part is a woman’s role with only 2 functions: she’s in the film so the male lead can tell his sad story to someone sympathetic, & she’s there so the male lead can relieve his sexual tension. Otherwise, you know almost nothing about her. She has absolutely no back story, & she has no future of her own beyond whatever role she might play in the hero’s future.      Over the years, I’ve pointed out numerous examples, but few are as egregious as the role of “Alex” in the new film UP IN THE AIR. “Just think of me as yourself, only with a vagina.” Oh, puh-leez!  Now I really have heard it all!

    Who is this woman supposed to be?!?  She’s just a gorgeous, available babe with the magical ability to pull not one but two sexy black dresses from her rollaway with no prior notice!  Oh, puh-leez!  “We never discover what Alex does…” says Anthony Lane in his 12/7/09 NEW YORKER review, but he’s too busy fawning over her to care.  And this is the film that now tops the National Board of Review’s Best of 09 list… Grrrrr!!!

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  1. Avatar
    • jan
    • December 7, 2009

    SPOILER ALERT: One of the things that bugs me most about this film is the sudden appearance of Clooney’s character “Ryan” at Alex’s home near the end. Excuse me, but how does he know her address?!? Even someone like me (who had no secrets) never revealed my home address during my many years as a road warrior. Since Alex actually has secrets, I think it’s safe to assume she would be very careful about protecting them. But this is a film that is all about emotional manipulation, so Alex just opens her door one day… & there he is… B&^%S@#T!!!

    This film has absolutely no respect for its female protagonist. Grrrrr.

  2. Avatar
    • jan
    • December 14, 2009

    It seems I’m not totally alone in this. “Anonymous” posted the following comment on Awards Daily on 12/11:

    “So glad that they recognized the one-dimensional, bitchy, stupid, shrew characters in “Up in the Air” are bad images of women and don’t deserve rewarding! Why isn’t anyone else noticing that?”

    Thanks, Anonymous!

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