Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Velveteen Rabbit

By: Mike Sanchez

The Velveteen Rabbit is a children's book that tells a story of a stuffed rabbit and his quest to become real through the love of his owner. The Rabbit desires to be made real by being the object-obsession of his owner. The rabbit is played with every day and is carried everywhere the owner goes. One day, the owner comes down with scarlet fever. He is sent to the seaside to become better and told to leave all his possessions behind. The boy yearns to take the Rabbit with him, but his doctor forbids him to take the germ infested plush toy and says it must be burned with all the nursery toys in order to disinfect the nursery. Luckily, the rabbit is saved by the Nursery Magic Fairy, and is deemed 'real' enough to become a wild rabbit and hop and jump into the forrest. The following Spring, once the boy has been revived from his illness, he sees the Velveteen Rabbit, but never realizes that it is his old toy and obsession. The Rabbit knows, however, and continues to hop into the forest to live his new life.

Up in the Air, Jason Reitman's award-winning motion picture, shares a similar story-line as that of the Velveteen Rabbit. In Reitman's laugh-infused stealth tragedy, George Clooney plays a suave, charming man who's job is to fire employees from other companies during the recession. In Reitman's America, one man's economic crisis is another's, or Clooney's, Golden opportunity. To Ryan Bingham, Clooney's character, "Flying means soaring." This can be interpreted as soaring over the drama and tragedy infused world; a world that is cluttered with relationships and feelings that just drag a man down and takes over the remnants of a man's life. Mr. Bingham is better off alone, in his airworld.
Or so it seems. Up in the Air turns Hollywood when tragedy hits Bingham. In the original novel, Bingham is stricken with a disease than enables him to gain further perspective on life, much like the perspective gained by the Velveteen Rabbit when he was able to enter the wild. Hollywood clasically transforms this story-line into a Rom-Com by introducing love, instead of disease, to create drama. Alex, Vera Farminga's character, is the female version of Bingham. She affects his life by making him want to turn real by loving, much like the Velveteen Rabbit--Clooney's character wants to be in love. This is seen by his chase back to Alex's hometown, only to be turned away and disappointed. He is left to be burned in the nursery, metaphorically speaking, because he has failed at achieving the path to love. Once Mr. Bingham reaches his air milage goal, however, he is set back on his path and able to happily run into the woods. Both stories endure a genuinely happy beginning, tragic midpoint where there is an 'all or nothing' theme, and a stagnant ending. Up in the Air goes even further than The Valenteen Rabbit by ending in a bleak fashion. A review from the New York Times calls it a "laugh-infused stealth tragedy," but never a comedy.
Most critics enjoy the film due to the charismatic performances of the three main actors, all of which hold equally important roles--none are Clooney's subordinates. The screen shots and imagery of the film is also very vivid and creates a motion-picture that is pleasant to watch. Most critics agree that this is a film for all of America to enjoy--gorgeous actors and actresses, intricate dialouge, and a simple story-line that masks a more complex, bleak ending.

Up in the Air: Pointlessly Ambiguous or Intentionaly Vague?

By: Annikka Frostad-Thomas, Annie Robertson,
Rashida Ruddock, Gautam Sharma

According to its movie trailer, Up In the Air is a film that celebrates personal connections and relationships. Notorious bachelor George Clooney is pictured telling his friend that “life is better with company,” and we watch a series of sentimental images depicting happy-looking families and loved ones. Yet in the actual movie, this nicely clichéd message is not so straightforward. George Clooney’s character seems to transform from a detached bachelor figure to a family man, but he is still alone and unhappy at the end of the movie. Sure, there are some apparently happy couples, but more characters seem to discover personal fulfillment through the single life, or are unable to because of their suffocating relationships.

Reviews of Up In The Air reflect this same sense of ambiguity. While most critics gave the film positive reviews, comment sections of many popular reviews are replete with mentions of the film’s lack of point and resolution. One user summed up the negative feelings toward Up in the Air by responding to a New York Times Review with, “this is a shallow, insensitive film all about nothing” ( Another popular reviewer writes about our protagonist, “as he soars above the clouds we can gather that Ryan, now a changed man, is not completely resolved—he knows he wants something, he just doesn’t know exactly what that something is” ( If Ryan doesn’t know what he wants, certainly the audience doesn’t know either. Up in the Air’s message about the importance of family and friends is also contradicted by the idea of a “sensual pleasure of brand recognition” ( In the scene where Bingham first meets Alex, he is seen bragging about all the different types of cards he had for well-known hotels. It is clear that Bingham receives some enjoyment from all of the popular brands that he has acquired or with which has executive membership. However on the other hand, he is portrayed at times as needing a support system that will make him happier. Again, the viewer cannot be sure what exactly the moral of Up in the Air is.

So what is the point of the movie? Is there a lesson to be learned after all? While the film has no definitive resolution, it is not a fair characterization to say it is about nothing as our New York Times blogger suggests. Up in the Air may not offer the audience some lesson on morality or tell them how to live, but it does give a poignant, close study of lives in transition. Ryan Bingham, for example, is faced with change not only in his professional life when his luxury jet-setting lifestyle is threatened by technology, but also in his personal life when he is forced to reexamine his views about human interaction. Popular reviews agree, Bingham is fundamentally altered after he is forced to “confront the unsettling life transition change he burdens others with” ( Other minor characters also support this theme of life in transition. Young professional Natalie Keener sees her life plan collapse when her long-time boyfriend leaves her, Ryan’s love interest Alex lives a double life, and many of the characters fired by Ryan see their life’s structure crumple as well. Therefore, it may be that the film is simply a compilation of character studies. Roger Ebert of Chicago Sun Times summarized the film as “an observant look at how a man does a job.” Perhaps this is the point of the movie: an opportunity to witness a number of events in a man’s life and to take away from that what we will.

Thus the film may not offer a grandiose message about how to live life, but rather poses a question that each audience member must answer individually. According to ‘Movie Examiner’ Brandon Gaylor, “the film isn't so much about the characters' work; it's simply the backdrop to discussions on life choices and perceptions…It's a movie that leaves the viewer contemplating not just his or her own life, but life in general” ( While it may be frustrating walking away from a movie feeling somewhat dissatisfied, perhaps this ambiguity is why the film has been so successful after all.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Flying Without Wings

Donny Giovannini
Daniel Lynch
Weikang Sun

Up in the Air is a departure from the standard drama-romance film, and makes a statement of living in contemporary society. The film is quite in tune with the horrors of being called into a boss’s office. In this economic climate almost every firm is downsizing, and getting fired can be traumatic and stressful. Up in the Air follows Ryan Bingham, a frequent flyer who makes a living firing employees on behalf of companies. He is also a part time public speaker who preaches about a life free of relationships with people and things—a mantra he enjoys practicing himself.

However, the timely arrivals of Natalie, a young and inexperienced coworker, and Alex, another frequent flyer whom Ryan establishes a relationship with, begin to challenge Ryan’s philosophy of a relationship-free life. The crucial moment comes Ryan’s own beliefs and admitting that the most important and joyful moments in life are rarely experienced alone. Convinced of a new lifestyle, Ryan flies to Alex’s home only to discover that she is married and only finds him as an escape from real life. At that point Ryan realizes that his life and career have been meaningless without another person to share his pleasures and happiness.

Up in the Air is at once an entertaining comedy, heart-felt drama and realistic depiction of the tough economic times. The film has received positive reviews from almost every major critic in the industry. Some of the most impressive accolades the film has received include winning the Golden Globe for best screenplay along with nominations for best picture, best director, best actor, and two nominations for best supporting actress. The film received glowing reviews from the Los Angeles Times, USA Today and Entertainment weekly, among others. Even the reviews that do not portray the movie in a positive light acknowledge its likeability and cinematic quality. These critics do seem to be put-off by the shallowness of the film however, saying, “It's like airplane air -- it has a packaged freshness that isn't really fresh at all” (, or, “[Up in the Air] has the lifespan of a state-fair churro: tasty at the point of consumption, it congeals soon afterward into its component ingredients of sugar and lard.” (Slate) The only strictly negative reviews of the film come from users on Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic.

The tragic ending to the story only emphasizes further the importance of having a relationship. Ryan’s easygoing and charismatic character allows viewers to identify with him even though he has an uncommon ideal. When viewers realize the disappointment that Ryan has finally succumbed to because he has resisted a relationship his entire career, that importance of relationship is revealing as it is startling. Because Up in the Air does not follow the typical cheerful ending of a romantic comedy, the themes of the film are conveyed much stronger and more effectively.

Boeing Nowhere: A Film with No Destination

Anais Berland
Rose Monahan
Francisco Pinillos
Annamaria Prati

Suave acting, funny moments, breathtaking cinematography…but is that all there is to a good movie? We know we are a minority in saying this, but “Up In The Air”, though it possesses these good qualities, still lacks that extra flair for being a truly “good movie”. The movie tells the story of veteran road (or should we say air) warrior Ryan Bringham (George Clooney) whose isolated and travel filled way of life is disrupted by two women: the unexpected arrival of tech savvy Cornell grad Natalie and the sexy, sophisticated female version of Ryan, better known in the movie as Alex. Not a bad start for a cliché romantic comedy, right? And of course, we are expecting to be treated as an audience of a romantic comedy, complete with cheesy moments, predictable happy endings, and the general message that love triumphs above all and will never let you down.

Actually, the movie genre, like its message, is shrouded in ambiguity. And this ambiguity abuses the trust the audience places in the movie they expect to see. “Up In The Air” could be a flashback to Juno, writer Jason Reitman’s previous hit, except this time we are left with a more cynical and indistinct message. Take the trailer, which sets up the audience’s expectations for the movie. Full of business interactions and isolation, morphing into love and stereotypical races through airports, with a voice over reciting “the backpack speech” throughout, praising the Buddhist virtues of having nothing. The clever and obvious contrast of the scenes and the voiceover leads the audience to believe that relationships will make everything better. The plot of the movie half delivers on this implied promise, and half muddles it up. The first hour of the movie is a drawn out depiction of Ryan’s quotidian routine, trapping the audience in boredom with its monotony. The second hour of the movie picks up the pace, but leaves the audience with confusing messages and a general feeling of dissatisfaction. This discontent is due to several unanswered questions: what will make Ryan happy? For him, probably not a relationship, as one can tell from his failed relationship with Alex and his backpack speech. There goes the promise from the trailer, letting the expectant audience down through Ryan’s lack of fulfillment. But the movie offers an alternative, conflicting message when the jarring clips are shown of the fired workers who are happy despite their unemployment due to the families and relationships that keep them going. As members of the audience, this doesn’t seem like it’s enough: electricity keeps you warm in a different way than human comfort alone can. The subject matter alone strikes an especially sensitive chord with the intended audience, which we assume is the American public. Facing a poor economy, possibly recently let go from a job, home foreclosures because they lack money – this is the world the audience lives in and the movie is essentially telling us to suck it up and be happy with the current situation. Unfortunately this is not how the world necessarily works, as the audience is probably aware. Not that Ryan supported this message either. The movie suggests that he isn’t worthy of happiness as a jerk, but yet the changes he undergoes leave him in an even less satisfying position, and the audience with more questions, a far cry from the romantic comedy ending they would expect.

Perhaps we are making a mountain out of a molehill, but since we ourselves are members of the intended audience we believe we should say our piece. “Up in the Air” was trying too hard to be unique and creative, but by trying so hard, it lost its direction and its power. This effort to be unique is apparent – people who like this movie probably give more credit to the creativity aspect than we chose to. But truly great, creative movies can be made for the mass audience, not just the critics. The movie was entertaining no doubt, but there was no clear message no resolution was offered to the audience members who shared in Ryan’s long journey. There were no right answers, just more questions, and this movie just leaves the message “Up In The Air”.

"Would You Like the Cancer?": Stories of the Contrasting Interpretations to "Up in the Air"

Up in the Air, took all our expectations for what appeared to be a light-hearted romantic comedy and threw it out the window. From the blithe, cheerful music that characterized the trailers to the playful exchanges between Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) and Alex Goran (Vera Farmiga), the producer created a prototypical persona of the adventurous man not willing to settle for anything more concrete than casual acquaintances.

However, these are the type of stories that we usually expect will end in the re-imagination of the protagonist’s persona, one where family is a reaffirmed value. To this end, George Clooney did a wonderful job as a man whose simple life philosophy is turned upside down by love, the one human emotion his character strived to avoid. Clooney played Ryan Bingham, a corporate downsizer who travels most of his life away from human interaction. Interestingly enough, he likes it that way, and Up in the Air was a tale that followed the widening of his world beyond the airport terminal. Ryan, ultimately, made the transformation and realized that there is something beautiful to a genuine relationship, but his life remained largely unchanged. More surprisingly, Alex and Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick), the two women that convinced him of the value of love and family, largely revealed their own lack of subscription to these notions.

It is precisely through this journey that Up in the Air is able to elicit powerful, personal emotional responses from both the technically-oriented critics as well as the movie-going audience.

Critics are raving about the movie Up in the Air, which is smart, creative, and funny. George Clooney brought his inherent likeability to the character of Ryan Bingham, with whom viewers might otherwise have had a difficult time connecting. Critics pointed to specific narrative devices, such as using montages of Bingham packing his life into a carry-on, that augmented the light tone characterizing the first part of the film, as well as the superb directing of Jason Reitman.

The general audience, however, exhibited a much more varied response. As a whole, audiences for Up in the Air were significantly less enthralled by the movie than professional critics. Many audience members found Clooney’s “arrogance and self-awareness” irritating, and most audience members who disliked the movie found it either boring, predictable, or both. One disappointed audience member pointed out that while the movie itself was predictable, the storyline was quite “implausible” as people rarely make a 180-degree turn like Clooney’s in real life. Other audience members felt disillusioned after the movie turned out to be much more depressing than expected. With a Christmas day release and coy trailers that hid the final plot twist, one audience member expected a comedy but instead found a “depressing movie.” These reactions contrast with the majority of the critical responses to the movie, which tended to praise the acting and the plot, described as an “observant look at how a man does a job.”

The negativity in audience responses could be attributed to several factors. Some audience members criticized Clooney’s arrogant nature. If an audience member is pre-disposed towards disliking Clooney, that would influence his or her perception of the movie. Many audience members suggested not seeing the film if one knew or had personally been affected by layoffs. Up in the Air used actual footage of real-life layoffs, and if the audience members knew the film used this footage, it could have adversely affected their opinions. With the current recession and the millions of recently laid-off workers in America, the layoffs in the movie would have been a depressing reminder of the difficult times that lay ahead for many of the unfortunate moviegoers.

Ultimately, there was a beautiful message to be gained, but in the end, it cost the livelihood of Ryan Bingham, and perhaps the audience’s, too. The characters’ ups and downs and the centrality of worker layoffs throughout the movie also highlighted the unpredictability of real life, and the bitterly ironic ending served to show that sometimes, life does not work out the way one would desire. However, if we take Ryan Bingham’s reaction as a clue, Up in the Air ended with a heartening message–happiness is subjective.

-Amelia Brazil, Stephen Craig, David Ng, Tenzin Seldon

Up in the Airwaves

Estela Go, Adrian Castillo, Shaun Stehly, Woo-Jin Hyun

Imagine for 1 hour and 49 minutes that your iPod was put on shuffle, that any song could play and you had no control. All you could do was listen, feel, and just go with the tune.

Now imagine a movie that first makes you identify with a character who seems to be in control; he appears to have everything figured out. You are taken by the beautiful panoramic shots of the heartland of the United States and this aerial view draws you into the movie. You hear the soul, the funk of Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings singing the song “This Land Is Your Land:” Nobody living can ever stop me, / As I go walking that freedom highway; / Nobody living can ever make me turn back / This land was made for you and me. In this ode to the American ideal of liberty, the tone is set. You understand that anyone can live in whatever way they want, all because of choice. Can you hear the freedom? It sounds like a 747 going up in the air at around 600 mph, passing over everyone and everything in its path. Can you hear the loneliness . . . of being the only plane on a route and fearing the sound of another craft nearby? This plane is Ryan Bingham: a man who flies over 320 days of the year. His job is to go place to place to fire people. His life for no one - not even for him - but the story continues and songs move you through the phases, the ups and the downs until you reach the climatic scene that sets Ryan's life in perspective.

This moment comes in the film where Ryan and Alex’s love blossoms. The scene involves their trip to Ryan’s high school back in Detroit. As they break in and begin exploring Ryan’s past, “Angel in the Snow” by Elliot Smith fills the air. The song, a bit of a folk tune, is warm and somewhat naïve. It brings viewers back to their youth, very appropriate for a scene where Ryan is back at his former stomping ground. As the scene unfolds and it becomes clear that there is a deep and passionate romance developing between the couple, the lyrics of the song tell the story. “Don't you know that I love you/ Sometimes I feel like only a cold still life/ Only a frozen still life/ That fell down here to lay beside you”. A very fitting song considering the snow and ice that surround both them and the school. Even more important is that Ryan is finally letting himself develop a meaningful connection with someone. For so long he had lived a life of solitude; but at the end of this journey back at his high school he suddenly seems like a completely new man. And as the couple kiss and the music fades, viewers are left overwhelmed with emotion. Clearly, the soundtrack was essential to the power and force felt in that scene.

Songs only last so long and the emotions are fleeting. Now this does not mean the change is not there; it just assumes that it keeps playing, gradually changing in time. So for those who were patient enough to sit through the credits, you were given some closure with Kevin Renick’s musical rendition of the movie in his original song entitled “Up in the Air:” I'm making some plans, / Finding out there's always new demands. / And I can't be precise / When people ask me what I'm doing with my life. These words speak to the uncertainty of the times, the disconnection people feel from others who are moving on with their lives and finding new jobs to define their time. But the tune plays to all of us, just as it did Ryan Bingham, who continues on his journey to find some meaning in his life. The chords are struck and you know that the happily ever after does not come in a three minute piece or, in this case, a 109 minute film.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Air-Tight Connections

Reviewed By:Sarah Stiltner, Kevin Havel, Elliott Liu, Jennifer Hamilton

Up in the Air is all about connections-the flight connections, the lack of connections with people, the personal connections with the fired employees, and the connection the audience makes with the movie-and it is this last connection that determines the over-arching love or hatred of an unconventional ending.
Ryan Bingham, a corporate workaholic lives 322 days on the road as a professional job "termination specialist." While one would not necessarily connect with such a profession and such a person in the current economic climate, an audience is particularly drawn in and connected to the film by George Clooney's poignant acting and passionate adherence to the role. As Entertainment Weekly says "If Ryan had been played by anyone but George Clooney, we might not believe in (or like) him.
Although the audience makes a strong connection to our protagonist, expert critics warn viewers against sympathizing too much with Ryan. Ebert writes, "George Clooney plays Bingham as one of those people you meet but never get to know." This false connection persuades some viewers to observe the film as another romantic comedy and not as the social commentary it truly is. In the New York Times, another critic explains, "Certainly you can fall for Bingham, maybe even shed a tear for him, though don't get carried away (as he does) or mistake him for some kind of hero. The truer tragedy here, as the repeated images of fired men and women suggest, doesn't belong to him." People who like romantic comedies and dramas tend to grow emotionally attached to characters and see his failure to find love as the tragedy when, in fact, the real tragedy is the reality infused in the film and the devastating effects the loss of jobs has on individuals, families and communities. The more romantic viewer may not find entertainment value or emotional or intellectual satisfaction from the atypical, rather unromantic ending, leading to the disparity in connections and polarity of reviews of the movie.
The beauty of this movie is that it cannot be pigeon-holed into one category. The well-written script includes pieces of witty humor, personal drama, and romantic touches. A New Yorker writer claims, "The film is a hybrid. Its backdrop is despair, but the foreground action has the silvery zest of a comedy." Director Jason Reitman (who also directed "Juno" and "Thank You for Smoking") creates cinematic magic, balancing the multiple aspects of the movie and the great character interactions while maintaining a personal connection to the audience even after the credits have rolled.

Wonderful movie, terrible trailer

“I’m like my mother. I stereotype; it’s faster”

Daniel Biu
Brittany Bennett
Matt Crowley
Anna Tenzing

Armed with this terse, yet disgustingly rational sentiment, Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) embodies the tantalizingly intangible nature of the film. As the main character, he moves throughout life confident about his understanding of other people. However, it seems that any viewer coming in with preexisting expectations of a romantic comedy, tragedy, or any other belabored genre of 21st century films will be left feeling hollow when the credits finally roll. Up in the Air begins to defy expectations long before you step up to the ticket booth.

This is a movie that defies categorization from the start, and it seems that even the production company struggled to determine how to market the film. The two different trailers produced suggest two entirely different movies. The 'final' trailer for the movie, which has been viewed on YouTube well over a million times, is made up entirely of one of Ryan’s monologues overlaid on clips from various scenes on the movie in no discernible order. Reading the comments of viewers of this trailer show the confusion this trailer created:

"what is the movie about i didn't get anything from the trailer-..?"

"wonderful movie, terrible trailer"

"I really like this movie, but this was a terrible trailer. It literally could not make me want to see it less."

Considering that this ad is what many individuals saw before going to the film it is no surprise when user reviews appear online saying that they did not get what they expected out of the film. This exact same criticism can be attributed to the other trailer, which played extensively on television and depicted a much different film.

Instead of a morose monologue with very little plot, this trailer instead introduced Clooney's character with a witty opening line and then proceeded to elaborate on the various plot-points by piecing clips together. By the end of this trailer the viewer is left an entirely different (yet still not entirely correct) depiction of Up in the Air. This one has promised through the witty one-liners, funny clips, and even upbeat background music that you are about to see a typical romantic comedy. In reality, the film is more of an anti-romantic comedy.
Because of the different tones presented in both trailers, Up in the Air either pleases audiences by defying the conventions of the romantic comedy genre or disappointed those expecting a happy ending. While critical review of the film was overwhelmingly positive, many reviewers and users felt that the film did not live up to the expectations it created. “I was looking forward to a quirky little romance,” one viewer complained, not the “dreadful movie that ensued.” Other viewers voiced similar complaints: the film dragged on forever, it was boring, and the ending was a “complete downer.” Likewise, in the comment section of the New York Times, one reader wrote, “the marketing for this film wants you to believe you're going to see a light comedy/romance—you won't. You will watch person after person being laid-off, and quite frankly, it left me entirely sad and manipulated.” By comparing the trailers, it becomes clear why some viewers had expectations of seeing a lighter romantic comedy than the bleak dramedy about corporate callousness and one man’s commitment woes that Reitman delivers. It is this expectation, it seems, that adds to this dichotomy of opinions, between viewers who rave about the film and others who deplore it.

The fulfillment from watching this movie comes from expectations that are either met or defied. For some, Up in the Air ranked highly among other movies in 2010 because it strayed away from conventional romantic endings and made emotional connections to the idea of family, romance, and unemployment. Up in the Air manages to portray both the tragedy of detachment from other human connections, as well as the tragedy experience by recently fired men and women. For others, the movie defied their expectations of romantic comedies and their typically happy endings, which left them dissatisfied. For the reason that it was sad, depressing or not enjoyable, Up in the Air failed to satiate a small population’s needs for pure entertainment. The general sentiment however, seemed that people liked the movie. Reviews ranging from the NY Times to Rotten Tomatoes gave the movie a rating of 3.5 out 4 and 90%, respectively.

The trailers, though set up a distinct mood for viewers, can only go far as to allow viewers to set expectations for the movie as well as to apply stereotypes. They cannot however predict viewer satisfaction. As Ryan Bingham says in the movie, “To know me is to fly with me.” As the film progresses, we join Ryan in crowded airports and empty lounges, gaining an understanding of the loneliness he struggles to ignore. Moreover, when we see him become increasingly connected to his sister and to Alex, the changes he undergoes means so much more to us than if we did not “fly” with him. Similarly, to know the movie is to watch it, and only by doing so can we determine our own reviews on how good it was.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Roger Ebert Needs to Make Up His Mind

Hari Arul
Ariana Borgaily
The Graduate

From the beginning of Ben Braddock’s affair with Mrs. Robinson, she has interacted with him through indifference. The only area where this differs is with her daughter, Elaine. It is not surprising then when Ben is forced to take Elaine out on a date that he succumbs to Mrs. Robinson’s wishes and treats Elaine as terribly as possible. Given his encounter with Mrs. Robinson just before he sees Elaine, it is understandable that his concern lies with his current relationship with Mrs. Robinson and not her daughter. Ben’s reckless driving is representational of not only his personality change in his car but also his “compulsive urge to be rude.” Elaine’s attempts to converse with Ben only lead to truncated responses and lack of eye contact mostly due to the sunglasses Ben wears. The sunglasses seem to serve as a mask for Ben as he cannot seem to confront Elaine until he removes the glasses and truly looks at her for the first time without being in the presence of Mrs. Robinson. As Elaine begins crying, there is an immediate shift in Ben’s attitude towards her. Their first kiss after Ben’s mediocre attempts to console Elaine foreshadows the unrealistic nature of their relationship.

Roger Ebert in 1967, gave an overwhelmingly positive review of The Graduate, even referring to it as "the funniest American comedy of the year." He claimed that The Graduate was "a success and Benjamin's acute honesty and embarrassment are so accurately drawn that we hardly know whether to laugh or to look inside ourselves." However, we disagree with his assessment that Ben Braddock "is so painfully awkward and ethical that we...admit we would act as he does," for multiple reasons. First, we believe Ebert does injustice to the thousands of ethical movie characters by calling Ben ethical. How ethical can a character be if he sleeps around with his father's work partner's wife? Secondly, we disagree that Ben's "awkwardness" is justification for acting in the way that he does or that it would make us, the audience, agree that we would behave like him. Furthermore, the material in The Graduate is anything but "handled in a straightforward manner." Ben's actions are often impulsive and poorly calculated as he does things such as take Elaine to the same hotel, Taft, that he is having an affair with her mother in. Yes, Ebert's 1967 review praises the movie, but in a way that insults the truly ethical and relatable characters of other films.

The review of The Graduate that Ebert gave in 1997 was drastically different from his initial interpretation of the movie. Thirty years later, Ebert decides to take back any positive comments he made about the movie in order to refer to it and its characters as "clueless" and "witless." Although it is true that Ben "seems most at home at the bottom of a swimming pool," we do not agree that he is a "clueless hero." Instead we see Ben as confused but always aware of the situation he is in. We don't understand what happened to Roger Ebert between 1967 and 1997 that caused him to have such a vehement reaction to the film. He refers to Elaine as "witless," having "no dialogue of any depth." Perhaps that is how he felt in 1967, but felt too bad giving that review to an under 30 year old Katherine Ross. Apparently because he has nothing better to do, he then rants against "almost-adult son of friends," who he meets at parties, comparing these "mute savages" to Benjamin. We understand if you really dislike your friends, but that is no reason to randomly criticize their 18-25 year old kids in a written review. While we agree that Benjamin and Elaine's reaction to each other at the end of the film suggests a certain wariness, as they have not yet had "a meaningful conversation," that, once again, does not seem to justify a thorough bashing of Benjamin's character as a "self-centered creep," who apparently resonated within all of us in 1967.