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Bruno Barreto
Gwyneth Paltrow, Mike Myers, Christina Applegate, Rob Lowe, Mark Ruffalo, Candice Bergen, Kelly Preston
Writing Credits:
Eric Wald

Don't stop till you reach the top.

Academy Award-winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow (Shakespeare In Love, Best Actress, 1998; Shallow Hal) stars in this hilarious comedy his about a small-town girl who's about to get a taste of the big-time world! No one thought Donna (Paltrow) would go very far. But when she sets her sights on becoming a first-class international flight attendant, Donna throws cautionito the wind and takes off in pursuit of her dream! The ride is anything but smooth however and Donna's laugh-packed journey of a lifetime is rocked by more turbulence than she bargained for! Also starring Christina Applegate (TV's "Married With Children"), Rob Lowe (Austin Powers trilogy, Tommy Boy), Kelly Preston (What A Girl Wants, Jerry Maguire) and Candice Bergen (Sweet Home Alabama, Miss Congeniality), this charmingly funny treat will send your spirits soaring!

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$7.009 million on 2508 screens.
Domestic Gross
$15.589 million.

Rated PG-13

Widescreen 2.35:1/16x9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1

Runtime: 87 min.
Price: $29.99
Release Date: 9/9/2003

• “History of the Flight Attendant”
• “A Journey Inside View From the Top
• “Music of View From the Top
• Sneak Peeks

Search Titles:

Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


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View From The Top (2003)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 2, 2003)

My best friend works as a flight attendant, a job he’s held for almost 13 years now. I’ve heard enough of his stories to know that a wealth of funny incidents occur up in the friendly skies. Unfortunately, you’ll get no feeling for the real-life oddness in the air during View From the Top, a fairly dismal comedy.

At the film’s start, we meet Donna Jensen (Gwyneth Paltrow), a girl who grows up in small town Nevada trailer park with her often-remarried mom (Robyn Peterson). For her whole life, she dreamed of a way to get as far away from there as possible. This leads her down a number of dead ends. At her lowest point, Donna sees motivational speaker and “world’s most famous flight attendant” Sally Weston (Candice Bergen) during a TV spot. This program gives Donna the encouragement to leave home and get a job with scummy Sierra Airlines.

While on this low-class job, Donna meets experienced attendant Sherry (Kelly Preston), who helps her on her way. After a rough first flight, Donna soon settles in to the job and she becomes so good at it that she eventually gets her own trainee, Christine (Christina Applegate). The three women hang out together and eventually meet lake patrolman Ted (Mark Ruffalo) while sunning on a layover. Christine makes a major play for him, but he clearly prefers Donna. The pair have one very pleasant date, but the burgeoning romance gets nipped in the bud when Donna earns a place with Royalty Airlines, a much better company. (Inexplicably, the dim-bulb Christine also gets a job with Royalty but the competent Sherry does not.)

This new job sends Donna and Christine to Texas, where they train with cross-eyed John Whitney (Mike Myers). Donna prospers while Christine struggles. Donna also achieves a long-time dream when she meets and befriends Sally Weston, one of the airlines’ mentors. The supportive Sally tells Donna she has what it takes to go all the way and encourages her to pursue her fantasy of the coveted first class international route.

All seems great for Donna until she takes her final exam. Apparently she bombs it, which means that she has to work for the commuter line Royalty Express instead of for the big enterprise. This bases her in Cleveland, where she meets Ted. He’s moved back home there to restart his almost-finished law school education. The pair quickly become a couple and move in together.

Despite this happiness, Donna still feels she got screwed somehow during the assignment process. We learn what happened and find out if she’ll get her shot at the big leagues. We also watch as Donna inevitably has to decide between career and love.

Isn’t Top the kind of flick we should find on Paltrow’s résumé from before her Oscar victory? It seems less like a star vehicle than something from her early days that she’d want to hide under the rug. And what in the world is Mike Myers doing here? He stars in flicks that make more than $200 million and he does a bit part in this clunker? He must’ve owed someone a favor.

I won’t call View the worst movie I’ve ever seen, but it sure feels like something that should embarrass all involved. Part of the problem stems from its lack of coherence. One minute it wants to be a wacky comedy, while the next it turns into a sentimental romance. Good flicks can pull off those changes, but View makes the turns too abrupt and obvious. As a result, it never feels sure exactly what it wants to achieve.

It doesn’t help that Paltrow shows no talent for the broad comedy required during the film’s first half. She fits better when the romance dominates, but until then, she seems terribly miscast. Paltrow is the kind of actress who demonstrates a certain almost regal quality naturally, and she doesn’t connect with the character’s trailer trash background. That doesn’t mean that I believe anyone from that upbringing can’t rise above their origins, but the distance between Paltrow’s personality and the reality of the situation seems extreme. Really, Applegate would have been better suited for the role, as she can execute the ditzy charm necessary for Donna. Paltrow just seems above it all, and that means we don’t connect with the character well.

Not that any of that matters with a movie this thin and predictable. The reason for Donna’s stew school failure is so incredibly obvious that it’s hard to believe the filmmakers made us wait so long to finally tell us. I thought they’d spill the beans earlier, since there’s no suspense anyway. Other logical leaps occur as well, such as the fact that Ted and Donna move in together but never say “I love you” to each other until much later!

That happens because the movie prefers a lack of logic to make a point. It saves “I love you” from Donna to Ted until the last minute so it can attempt some cheap sentiment. A good movie wouldn’t need that kind of crutch. A bad movie needs it but fails anyway, which is what happens here.

View From the Top falls just short of becoming car-wreck terrible, but it approaches that level. Maybe the only positive element stems from the shots of Preston, Applegate and Paltrow in bikinis; I find it hard to hate a film that provides those hot glimpses. At the very least, it really wastes a lot of serious talent. With my personal connection to the industry, I hoped View would at least provide some funny skewering of flight attendants, but it lacks anything even as clever as the old “buh-bye” skits from Saturday Night Live. View fails in almost every possible way.

The DVD Grades: Picture B/ Audio B/ Bonus D+

View From the Top appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Much of the picture looked great, but enough small problems appeared to lower my grade moderately.

For the most part, sharpness seemed fine. Some wider shots displayed slight softness, but those examples popped up infrequently. In general it appeared crisp and well defined. Jagged edges and moiré effects created no concerns, and only a little edge enhancement showed up during the film. As for source flaws, the picture betrayed some light compression artifacts and also demonstrated the occasional speck or bit of grit, but all of these issues stayed modest.

With its occasionally wild flight attendant uniforms and a mix of locales, View boasted a wide and vibrant palette. The colors didn’t seem quite as fantastic as I expected and they fell short of the vivid greatness of something like What a Girl Wants, but the hues nonetheless presented bold and lively tones throughout the flick. Blacks were dense and deep, but shadows looked slightly murky at times. The low-light shots generally came across with reasonable clarity, but they weren’t as well depicted as I anticipated. Ultimately, View presented a good image that earned a “B”.

Although comedies usually don’t present very exciting soundtracks, the air setting of View From the Top offered some nice audio elements. When away from planes or airports, the soundfield didn’t give us much with which to work. Music showed nice stereo presence, but otherwise, those sequences stayed with light environmental audio. When we went around planes, however, the track demonstrated better life. Inside the cabin, we got a good feel of flying, and scenes on the ground offered some fun examples of flights around us. These used the surrounds nicely to give us a good sense of place.

Audio quality also seemed positive. Speech was natural and distinct, and I noticed no examples of edginess or other flaws. Effects consistently sounded clean and accurate. No distortion appeared and they kicked in good bass during the louder plane-oriented shots. Music was nicely bright and vibrant, and the various pop songs made good use of the lower register as well. Not much about View dazzled me in the auditory realm, but the track seemed better than expected.

For the disc’s extras, we take off with History of the Flight Attendant. This nine-minute and 52-second piece shows some archival materials along with interview comments from Around the World In a Bad Mood author Rene Foss, historian Tom Heppenheimer, Blue Star Jets Vice President Lisa Senters, and flight attendants Dodo Narz, Shirley Ganson, and Lynne Adelman. The program offers a quick but very interesting and informative glimpse at the start and development of the flight attendant. There’s some great material here, but the show’s way too short. Too bad “History” didn’t run 87 minutes and View less than 10 minutes.

After this we get a look at the movie itself. A Journey Inside View From the Top fills six minutes, 22 seconds and presents the standard mix of movie clips, shots from the set, and interviews. We hear from actors Paltrow, Preston, and Applegate, producers Bobby Cohen and Matthew Baer, and director Bruno Barreto. If you bet that “Journey” provides your standard glorified trailer, you win. We learn about the story and find out that everyone had a lot of fun. Nothing interesting appears here.

After this we get another brief featurette called Music of View From the Top. The two-minute and 59-second program mostly mixes music video clips with comments from Miramax Motion Picture Music President Randy Spendlove, though singer/songwriter Kaci also briefly chats about her own tune. Essentially Spendlove tells us how amazing all the female performers are. And that’s about it!

Though the disc fails to include the trailer for Chicago, we get a few other ads in the Sneak Peeks area. There we locate promos for Duplex, Chicago and the “Miramax New Golden Age”. The first one also shows up when you start the DVD.

The subject of flight attendants seems ripe for the comedic picking, but View From the Top fails to examine the topic in any sort of humorous or stimulating way. It alternates between broad farce and sentimental romance and succeeds at neither genre. The DVD presents generally positive picture and sound but skimps on the supplements. Stay far away from this clunker.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.8333 Stars Number of Votes: 12
5 3:
View Averages for all rated titles.