View from the Top

Director: Bruno Barrreto

Had it been made in the 1960’s, Brazilian director Bruno Barreto’s View from the Top would have made the perfect vehicle for either Doris Day or Sandra Dee. This mindlessly frothy bit of fluff centers on Academy Award winner Gwyneth Paltrow as Donna Jensen, a young woman from the southwest who, after getting dumped in a birthday card from boyfriend Marc Blucas decides she needs to make a drastic change in her life. Inspired by a book written by Sally Weston (Candice Bergen) that urges women to fulfill their dreams, Donna, who has never traveled in her life let alone set foot on an airplane applies for a position as a flight attendant on a thankless, seedy commuter flight with vinyl, suggestive uniforms that could double as stripper apparel. Content to start somewhere, she learns the ropes quickly and soon, along with her friends Sherry (a hilarious Kelly Preston) and Christine (Christina Applegate) applies for work at Sally Weston’s employer Royalty Airways.

Surviving off-the-wall training from Mike Myers who, as Leonard Maltin noted seemed as though he was playing a character from an entirely different film, the bright, optimistic Donna is disappointed to learn that instead of receiving an assignment on an international flight, she’s been stationed at their commuter hub in Cleveland. Although, as we learned from Tina Fey’s 30 Rock, the “Cleve” has some high points and in View they come in the form of adorable Mark Ruffalo, a law student who Donna inspires while dating. Eric Wald who completed View from the Top in his UCLA MFA screenwriting program owes much to the escapist works of Day and Dee from the past. However, instead of putting an edgy or satirical spin on the genre such as was done in Down With Love, Wald sets his film in modern times and although it’s refreshing to see such a hopeful and innocent work, View from the Top suffered the after-effects of 9/11 when Miramax, concerned that audiences wouldn’t want a carefree airline comedy pushed the release from its intended ’01 although back to ’03 when the re-cut version debuted to horrendous reviews. While the film would no doubt have benefited from a hipper style of humor such as found in the similar Romy & Michelle’s High School Reunion and you’re sure to forget it by the time you hit eject, View from the Top is harmless, feel-good fun.