View From The Top Movie Review

To the endless soundtrack of grating girl-empowerment country music ditties and romantic '80s hair-band rock, Gwyneth Paltrow crash-lands in "View From the Top," playing a Nevada-bred white-trash ditz who dreams of a "glamorous" life as a flight attendant.

There were no survivors (at least in terms of pride) among the cast that includes Christina Applegate, Mark Ruffalo, Candice Bergen and Kelly Preston -- all of whom certainly must have signed on to a script that looked very different from this inept and lifeless comedy.

Having sat on a shelf for more than a year and having been edited down to what feels like an endless 87 minutes (a run-time that short is often a tell-tale sign of desperate post-production rescue attempts), "View From the Top" finds few fresh jokes in its formulaic plot (think "Legally Blonde" at 30,000 feet). Paltrow's career path is challenged by a catty competitor (Applegate) who gets her assigned to puddle-jumpers. A love interest (Ruffalo) in Cleveland (a backwater berg from the movie's point of view) forces her to choose between following her heart and chasing a prestige stewardessing gig on "Paris first class international" flights.

Apparently it never occurred to writer Eric Wald or director Bruno Barreto ("Carried Away," "One Tough Cop") that this central conflict is fundamentally nonsense. If Paltrow's character is a flight attendant, she could get on a plane to Cleveland to be with her boyfriend almost any time she wants.

But the plot is the least of this picture's problems. You can see the let's-get-this-over-with attitude on the faces of the actors as they shrug their way through embarrassingly stale comedic set pieces, shallow stereotypes (the small-town heroine and her pals all wear neon polyester mini-dresses and big hair), false moments of drama (the soundtrack turns sad and serious when Applegate is caught stealing hotel guest soaps), and hammy throw-away scenes of indulgent improvisation (Mike Myers half-heartedly mugs through a small part as a flight attendant trainer with a lazy eye).

Very, very occasional a good laugh comes as a welcome surprise ("Baloney or cheese?" Paltrow asks passengers at mealtime on a cheap airline). But mostly the movie just trumpets its own incompetence, beginning with its use of book-ending voice-overs as a substitute for real story and character development.

Paltrow is badly cast -- she just doesn't have it in her to be a convincing dingbat. Ditto Ruffalo ("You Can Count On Me," "Windtalkers"), whose pinched expressions of sincerity definitely make him a poor candidate for a light-hearted romantic lead. Applegate, who was the best thing in last year's "The Sweetest Thing," is stuck playing a role more superficial than even her bimbo Kelly Bundy from "Married With Children." Bergen, playing "the world's most famous flight attendant," dusts off aristocratic mannerisms familiar from "Miss Congeniality" and "Sweet Home Alabama."

Even the outtakes that run with the closing credits can muster up only a couple weak chuckles. But where "View From the Top" really falls down is in its complete failure to exploit the flight attendant trade for laughs that are certainly inherent to the job. Where are the unruly passengers? Where are the robotic greetings and goodbyes?

The one scene of aspiring stewardess interviews in last year's "Catch Me If You Can" is exponentially funnier than every little laugh in this entire movie all rolled together.

Cast & Crew

Director :

Comments

View From The Top Rating

" Terrible "

Rating: PG-13, WIDE: Friday, March 21, 2003

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