View from the Top Movie Review

Assume crash positions, people. We're going down.

Bruno Barreto's View from the Top begins with small-town beauty Donna's (a miscast Gwyneth Paltrow) head planted firmly in the clouds. She enrolls in flight school as a means for escaping her monotonous life, but turbulence lies ahead. She finds - and then loses - true love with a ruggedly handsome law student (Mark Ruffalo), and encounters opposition from a rival stewardess (Christina Applegate) she once considered a friend. These obstacles stand in the way of Donna's ultimate goal: to work the first-class cabin on the Paris flight for Royal Airlines.

From its effervescent soundtrack to Paltrow's "aw shucks" narration, the mild View sets its sights on motivational pap and dreamy inspiration. The stage is repeatedly set for a sharp satire of the dramatic lives of flight attendants. Barreto just digs into the feast with a dull butter knife of comedy.

Bashing View, though, is like kicking a puppy for licking your hand too often. The sweet but schizophrenic effort begs to be loved, and takes itself so seriously that you'll question its sincerity. It reaches high levels of camp, packing a vicious cat fight, a Rob Lowe cameo, and a lazy-eyed flight attendant instructor played without wit by Mike Myers. But Barreto is uncomfortable with such juvenile material, so he retreats to the safe trappings of the romantic comedy formula whenever View flirts with legitimate spoof.

Regardless of the intended genre, the horrible dialogue in Roger Kumble and Eric Wald's script makes the air up here awful thin, suffocating all attempts at humor. Since Donna is incapable of thinking for herself, the film introduces a polite and encouraging mentor (Candice Bergen) who spells out basic life lessons like "every pilot needs a co-pilot" and "follow your head, not your heart." These messages should send folks scampering down the lighted aisles towards the nearest exits.

Casting Paltrow is the biggest mystery. Clad head to toe in pretty-girl pink retro costumes stitched from cheap spandex, the rail-thin A-lister parades in skintight flight suits and skimpy bikinis. Can't she play dress up in the comfort of her own mansion? She does lend an ounce of credibility to the underdeveloped romantic angle, but the naturally trashy Applegate makes a better fit for the down-and-out Donna role.

Without Paltrow's presence, though, View would have been issued a one-way, coach class ticket to the nearest cable network. So now we know why Barreto cast Paltrow as Donna. We're still hazy on why she accepted the part.

All aft from here.


Comments

View from the Top Rating

" Unbearable "

Rating: PG-13, 2003

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