View from the Top review by Mike Long

We often hear that actors don't want to be typecast. Therefore, they attempt to play many different roles. This is all well-and-good, and we should applaud actors for trying different things, but in acting, as in any career, one must know one's own limits. It was understandable that Gwyneth Paltrow didn't want to always be seen as "that actress who won an Oscar for playing a British chick", but her decision to star in View from the Top was a mistake. Some people can pull off trailer trash and some can't. Guess into which category she falls.

In View from the Top, Paltrow stars as Donna Jensen, a poor, but ambitious girl from Silver Springs, Nevada. Determined to make it in life, Donna leaves her job at Big Lots (?!) and heads for Laughlin, Nevada, where she takes a job as a flight attendant for a very small commuter airline. There, she meets fellow employees Christine (Christina Applegate) and Sherry (Kelly Preston), as well as local hunk Tim (Mark Ruffalo). Dissatisfied with the commuter life, Donna, Christine, and Sherry apply for jobs with Royalty Airlines, a major carrier, and Donna and Christine are hired. (Sherry is not and thus disappears from the film.) Donna and Christine soon find themselves training under flight attendant instructor John Whitney (Mike Myers), an energetic man whose lazy eye kept him out of the skies. After graduation, Donna is assigned a route in Cleveland, where she once again meets Tim, who is now back in law school. Just as her romance with Tim is heating up, Donna is offered the New York-Paris route. Will she leave Tim to follow her dream?

View from the Top completed principal photography in March, 2001 and once it was finished it sat on the shelf, as Miramax apparently didn't know what to do with it. That's because it's a nothing movie. The film is so without substance that it goes beyond being fluffy. The movie plays like a light-comedy from the 1960s, as we follow the small-town girl who is chasing her dreams. But, it's so hard to get on-board (!) with Donna and her flight attendant ambitions. The film only tells us that she wants to work for an airline because she read a book by Sally Weston (Candice Bergen) -- and that's not enough. All of the characters are vapid stereotypes, except for Mike Myers, and even his loopy schtick seems tired here. (I can't help but wonder if they added more of him due to the success of the Austin Powers films. View from the Top is never funny, moving, or engaging.

As mentioned above, Paltrow seems truly out-of-place here. It's difficult to buy her as the small-town girl from the trailer park, and it's a bit jarring in the film when her first taste of success reveals her to be very chic and urbane. What? Applegate and Preston are pretty good as Donna's slutty friends. Preston sports a pair of large fake breasts which are presumably funny. But, they aren't that much bigger than the breasts seen on many actresses today, so they aren't big enough to be truly humorous. Myers runs his eye joke into the ground, and Rob Lowe has a 2-scene cameo that total 1 minute and 40 seconds of on-screen time, yet he made it onto the DVD box! The only bright spot here is Candice Bergen, playing the ultimate flight attendant. She lends an air of class to the film, although I kept waiting for her to turn into her character from Miss Congeniality.

View from the Top crash-lands onto DVD from Miramax Home Video. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. Apparently the film's time on the shelf didn't hurt its image quality, as the transfer on this disc looks quite good. The picture is very sharp and clear, showing no grain, even during the bright daytime scenes. Director Bruno Barreto has given the film a very vibrant color palette and these bright colors look very good here. There are some subtle moments of video noise during some scenes, but otherwise the transfer looks good. The primary audio track on the DVD is a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. This track offers clear dialogue with no hissing or distortion. But, other than the airplane sound effects, there is not much in the way of stereo or surround sound effects. But, the incidental music in the film sounds very nice.

The View from the Top DVD contains a smattering of extras. We start with the 10-minute segment, "History of the Flight Attendant", which is exactly what it sounds like. Historians and former flight attendants discuss the evolution of the trade over the last 60 years. (I didn't know that the first flight attendants were nurses, who were hired to combat air sickness.) This is followed by "A Journey Inside View from the Top", a 6-minute "making-of" featurette, whose behind-the-scene footage and comments from the actors never rises above EPK status. Finally, there is a brief (3 minutes) segment in which Randy Speedlove from Miramax Music discusses the songs in the film.

View from the Top is a numbingly unentertaining film which will appeal only to die-hard Gwyneth Paltrow fans and possibly flight attendants.

3 out of 10 Jackasses

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