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With: Gwyneth Paltrow, Christina Applegate, Mark Ruffalo, Mike Myers, Candice Bergen, Joshua Malina, Kelly Preston, Rob Lowe, Marc Blucas, Stacey Dash, Jon Polito, Stephen Tobolowsky
Written by: Eric Wald
Directed by: Bruno Barreto
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for language/sexual references
Running Time: 87
Date: 03/21/2003

View from the Top (2003)

1/2 Star (out of 4)

A 'View' from the pits

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

View from the Top is such a misfire that you have to wonder what has happened to it during the year or so it has been sitting on Miramax's shelves. Harvey "The Butcher" Weinstein has probably been at it with his infamous scissors once or twice by now, as it only clocks in at 87 minutes.

But believe me, it's the longest 87 minutes in recent memory.

Even if Harvey trimmed it down into a very short film, say, a 30-second TV ad, there's still not enough material to make anything worthwhile. The actual TV ad resorts to using a dance number from the closing credit outtakes, proving that even they couldn't find 30 seconds worth of good material!

In any case, Gwyneth Paltrow plays Donna, a small-town Southern girl who dreams of bigger things. The movie opens with the predictable 8-mm home movie footage of the young Donna at an unhappy birthday party. As a grownup, she sees an opportunity to get out of her trailer park life and become an airline stewardess.

She starts at the bottom, on a dinky California shuttle that transports gamblers and drunks. But she eventually moves up in the world, joining Royalty Air, and climbing the ranks until she reaches the big time: First Class, International, Paris.

Eventually, she must decide between her career and her true love, Ted (Mark Ruffalo). Why can't she have both? Frankly, the movie never considers it.

We get the usual backstabbing, too. Her best friend Christine (Christina Applegate) is less talented and cheats at Donna's expense to get ahead. Mike Myers is on board as a wall-eyed instructor at the stewardess school.

Kelly Preston turns up in a completely useless role, Candice Bergen does her usual thing as Donna's mentor, and Rob Lowe has a strange cameo as a friendly pilot on Donna's first flight. Even George Kennedy turns up for one line -- he orders a vodka. What happened there?

View from the Top is such a godawful mess that you honestly can't tell if it was meant to be a comedy or not. Myers and Applegate (brilliantly funny in The Sweetest Thing) try their best to crank out a few laughs but to no avail. The one funny line -- a mispronunciation of the word "assess" -- is already in the aforementioned TV ads.

No, the movie is so far off the track that it actually tries to evoke tears for Myers' character. He wanted to be a stewardess, too, but couldn't because of his eye, we're told in one emotional scene. Director Bruno Barreto was once a promising talent. He made one of Brazil's all-time highest grossing films with Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands (1976) as well as the acclaimed Dennis Hopper film Carried Away (1996) -- but after this and the wretched One Tough Cop (1998), he probably ought to be grounded.

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