I finally got to see Up in the Air yesterday (check out Drew’s review) and for a movie with a light dramatic tone, it sure is thematically heavy. An outstanding movie, really, but it practically put me in a contemplative coma — I couldn’t shake it and I still haven’t quite flushed it from my system. I suppose how it affects you will depend on what kind of person you are — or really, what kind of job you are in. For me, the big take-home message was this: For a lot of us, our entire identities are wrapped up in our jobs, and jobs are really very fragile, tenuous things. Our jobs — and thus, our identities — can be taken away unexpectedly in a moment’s notice. For a lot of folks — corporate drones, paycheck-to-paycheck people — this really can represent an opportunity to not just change your careers, but your identities, for the better.
But what about those of us who already have our dream jobs? Forget the loss of income — to lose that job would be to lose what we want to be in life, and how we want people to perceive us (the bigger take-home message in Up in the Air, of course, was perhaps: don’t let your job define you, let the people around you define you, but that’s not so easy when the people around you are the ones you work with). The point is, the movie made me question life more than any other movie has this year (and it’s probably not a great Christmas Day movie, by the by).
So how does this relate to the trailer for Kevin Smith’s upcoming film, Cop Out (formerly A Couple of Dicks)? Well, after you watch the trailer, you might understand. Although it’s not exactly a different job for Kevin Smith, per se — he’s still directing — it feels like something akin to giving up a dream job to become a corporate drone. Dude’s gotta pay the bills and I understand that, but there’s no other way to look at it than the fact that it’s a sell-out flick. By moving beyond the View Askew flicks, and doing something more broad, more studio, Kevin Smith has — in a way — changed jobs. And his identity — or at least our perception of him — will likely forever change. Kevin Smith may still be the same ribald, over-sharing candid motherfucker in the world in real life (and his Twitter feed suggests as much), but Kevin Smith 2.0 is going to be defined by Cop Out, and this may or may not be his Father of the Bride moment — the movie that forever changed our perception of Steve Martin (though, if you read his books or his magazine pieces, he’s still the same guy, but there’s no denying our perception of him has changed).
It’s heartbreaking, in a way. People get older; their priorities change; and the dick-and-fart jokes lose their intimacy, I suppose. It happens, right? I’m probably making much too big a deal about it, but — if you’re in your 30s or older, and settled into a job — I dare you to watch Up in the Air and not come out feeling uneasy. Given the fact that so many movie critics are older, often single, and spend their lives in movie theaters the same way that Clooney spends his on airplanes (and this is especially true of print critics, whose jobs are endangered), I can’t believe there haven’t been more break-down Jerry Maguire memo reviews of that film.
Anyway, Happy Holidays! Here’s the trailer for Cop Out. I’m going to go roll up in that fetal ball now.