Caroline Friday

Caroline Friday is a novelist and award winning screenwriter with several film projects in development for both television and theatrical distribution. She is also a 2008 Kairos Screenwriting Winner for spiritually uplifting screenplays, sponsored by the John Templeton Foundation. Caroline currently serves as EVP of Sixth Day Media, LLC, a film finance and production company headquartered in the Atlanta area. She lives in Marietta, Georgia, with her husband and three children and can be found at

At The Movies

Up in the Air

Up In The AirFree HBO brought this Oscar-nominated film to my attention, which left me pleasantly surprised at its moral message, despite the typical Hollywood scenes that turn away most Christians. Starring George Clooney, Up in the Air is a small, character-driven film that is more art-house theater than mega movie. Clooney stars as Ryan Bingham, a jet-setting, live-out-of-the-suitcase, career-transitioning counselor who is nothing other than a professional axman. His entire existence is spent in airplanes, hotel rooms, and around conference tables in one city after another, firing longtime employees who have dedicated their lives to companies and its employers.

With no real home, no relationships, and no connections with his extended family, Ryan has successfully removed all hope and joy from his life, other than a lifelong dream to collect enough frequent-flyer miles that would garner him royalty status with the airlines. The emptiness of Ryan’s life cannot be overstated, and ironically it is this emptiness that puts him in a position where his job is at risk of becoming obsolete.

Immune to the collateral damage from his profession, Ryan has deluded himself into believing what he does is important and necessary, and he can only be successful if it’s done face-to-face by displaying feigned compassion that is veiled in motivational speeches encouraging the fired employee to “follow your dream” and view his or her job loss as a “blessing to be embraced.”

Enter Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick), a beautiful, young, fresh-faced college grad who believes otherwise. She convinces Ryan’s boss, played by Jason Bateman, that employee outsourcing can be more efficient if done online through a cyber interview incorporating stoic philosophy and banal encouragement that is anything other than compassionate. Ryan sets out to prove her wrong by taking her on one of his whirlwind firing trips so that she can see the error of her ways.

Natalie’s no-nonsense, robotic personality is a nice contrast to Ryan’s relaxed humor. His on-the-road experience provides some entertaining, teachable moments, like his forcing her to buy a new suitcase and repack her clothes in the middle of the airport, and giving her pointers on how to pick the fastest airport security line based on racial profiling. Even though she comes across as cold and unemotional, he acknowledges her desire for companionship, love, and a family—things he has forsaken.

Other than an occasional fling with beautiful Alex Goran (Vera Farmiga), who lives a similar life of constant travel, Ryan has no relationship with anyone outside his work, and even his extended family has no real connection with him, despite his niece’s upcoming wedding. When Natalie challenges him on his lifestyle, he adamantly defends his decisions, but the seeds of truth have been planted. Natalie’s objective observance of his empty life is a wake-up call that forces Ryan to truly see the man he has become.

I like movies that take superficial, worldly characters on a journey to discover the emptiness of their lives. In this story, Ryan comes to realize that his relationship with Alex isn’t real after all, that firing people does sometimes cause devastating, tragic consequences, and, most important, that family is essential.

One of the best scenes in the film is when Ryan convinces his niece’s future husband, who is experiencing pre-wedding jitters, to embrace marriage, even though it is destined to be a bumpy road. Ryan knows the rules to a happy, fulfilled life and can express them beautifully to others; he just hasn’t been willing to live them out on his own. Doesn’t that sound like many people in the world? They know what they should do, but they aren’t willing to take the risk. Granted, people who take risks get hurt, but how will a full life ever be lived unless we venture into the unknown? Think about Peter walking on the water toward the Lord Jesus during a torrential storm, even if it was for a short while. What if he had never gotten out of the boat?

Spoiler alert!

The movie ends perfectly with Natalie taking a dream job and Ryan finally receiving a special travel card from the airline for all of his frequent flyer miles—an empty reward after all of his hard work. Natalie once told him that if she had such a card, she would pick a city on the destination board and just go. The final scene has Ryan at the airport, staring at the destination board and its vast list of cities. He ponders a moment then drops his suitcase, still staring as a look of peace comes over him. Next we see an airplane taking off, and we know that Ryan is on board. The ending is open to interpretation, but I believe he decided to live his life anew—without the baggage of his past. He decided just to go and live a brand-new life “up in the air.” That’s the simplicity of being a born-again child of God.