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VIEW FROM THE TOP

SYNOPSIS:
Small-town Nevada girl Donna (Gwyneth Paltrow) works a dead-end job at a supermarket and dreams of pursuing a career that will enable her to see the world. After being dumped by her boyfriend, Donna lands a flight attendant's job at budget carrier Sierra Airlines and sets her sights on making it to the top with prestigious Royalty Airlines. Inspired by the best-selling autobiography by legendary stewardess Sally (Candice Bergen), Donna and her friends Sherry (Kelly Preston) and Christine (Christina Applegate) apply for enrolment at Royalty. Accepted into the ranks and seemingly on her way to reaching her goals, Donna must first overcome the treachery of Christine and prove herself worthy. 


Review by Richard Kuipers:
It's appropriate that Candice Bergen has the mother superior role in View From The Top. Thirty years ago she'd have been on the shortlist to play the stewardess essayed by Gwyneth Paltrow in this inoffensive piece of fluff. It may be set in the present but the sensibility of this featherweight item are firmly grounded in the days when people dressed up to travel internationally and flight attendants were called "hosties", "trolley dollies" and "space waitresses". As the small town girl who wants more from life, Paltrow glides on to the screen with an easy charm that makes her navigation through the rungs of airborne hospitality a pleasure to watch. Joining her are a group of pleasant performers including Christina Applegate as her back-stabbing best friend, Mike Myers as a steward training school chief and Mark Ruffalo as the love interest. The whole show goes off without a hitch as Donna gets her first break on a low-rent local carrier and gradually makes her way top the top thanks initially to the inspiring words in super-hostie Sally's (Bergen) autobiography and later from the woman herself. Along the way you'll catch sight of Paltrow and Applegate in some gloriously hideous outfits (mini-skirt, plunging neckline, big hair) while working the boondocks on Sierra Airlines and the sweet romance between nice guy law student Ted (Ruffalo) and Donna has just enough friction to keep things interesting. Oddly enough, it's Myers who doesn't quite come up to scratch. He has a couple of funny moments as a cross-eyed training officer but too many of his routines feel forced and clumsy. Treading on the right side of the fine line between spirited performance and over-acting, Candice Bergen shines as the kind-hearted queen of the first-class cabin. You can see her character's payoff a mile away but it's still something to enjoy. There's really not too much to complain about here as this innocent little film passes before your eyes and earns back the ticket price with a minimum of fuss. Inner city sophisticates will probably not take to this Bruno Barretto-directed film in large numbers but it has a good heart and should find a warm welcome elsewhere. Sometimes pure escapism is enough and this is one of those times.

Review by Louise Keller:
Like Danny in his Deckchair, Donna wants to escape from her small town existence, but she chooses the more conventional aeroplane rather than helium balloons for her flight. And although Paris first class is her destination, Donna discovers the only way to travel is with the heart. A delightful mix of dreams, love and rivalry, View From The Top is light-hearted entertainment with an amusing premise and a surprisingly smart script. Gwyneth Paltrow charms us outright as the small town girl who makes the transition from big hair and short skirts to an accomplished traveller of poise and beauty. Paltrow has that sparkle of star quality that endears us to her in all her guises - as a comic actress and romantic lead. Christina Applegate’s scruple-free rival air-head is a delight, offering one of the film’s funniest scenes which includes a girl-fight and a large bread roll. The other comes when Donna takes off on her first flight, and we realise through her screams that she has never flown before. Mark Ruffalo (You Can Count On Me) is an intelligent and likeable choice for the man of Donna’s dreams, and Candice Bergen is perfectly cast as Donna’s inspiration, shining like the film’s beacon. Bergen’s Sally is the epitome of couture on two legs, decked in Escada and flaunting the teased hairstyles of the 60s. There’s a timeless kind of quality about the whole film – with tunes like Up Up And Away, Cyndi Lauper’s Time After Time, and a haunting version of La Vie en Rose by Petula Clark. The fashions too, are an amusing mix – from the ultra short, tight mini to the classic elegance of designer labels such as Moschino, Dolce & Gabbana, Diane Von Furstenberg and vintage Versace. What a scene-stealer is Mike Myers, as the cross-eyed colour-coordinated training instructor who flunked his medical and who milks the one-joke wonky eye gag for all its worth. In true slapstick style, Myers peers through one eye with a cock of his head as he inducts and instructs. If the heavy handed comedy doesn’t grab you, you will appreciate the subtleties – like a fleeting cutaway shot that takes a gentle dig at real celebrities who also have an eye problem - Sammy Davis Jnr, Marty Feldman and Peter Falk. The journey from Nevada’s luggage department to the dazzle of the Champs Elysee is a long one, and we are rooting for Donna all the way. While it may not really be quite as much fun to be an airhostess as Paltrow makes us believe, like J-Lo’s Maid in Manhattan, her enthusiasm is contagious.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

TRAILER

VIEW FROM THE TOP (PG)
(US)

CAST: Gwyneth Paltrow, Christina Applegate, Mark Ruffalo, Candice Bergen, Kelly Preston, Mike Myers, Marc Blucas, Jessica Capshaw

PRODUCER: Matthew Baer, Bobby Cohen, Brad Grey

DIRECTOR: Bruno Barreto

SCRIPT: Eric Wald

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Affonso Beato

EDITOR: Christopher Greenbury, Ray Hubley, Charles Ireland

MUSIC: Theodore Shapiro

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Dan Davis

RUNNING TIME: 87 minutes

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: BVI

DVD RELEASE: July 31, 2003







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