Miramax // 2003 // 87 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // September 30th, 2003
First class comedy at an economy class price.
No one thought all-American Donna (Gwyneth Paltrow, Shakespeare in Love) would ever go anywhere. Relegated to a life in a trailer home with her less-than-impressive family, Donna's life appears to be going nowhere fast. After her small town boyfriend dumps her (at her place of employment, a department store, no less) Donna sees an interview on TV with Sally (played with charm by Candice Bergin, Murphy Brown) who has just written a biography/self help book about her time as an airline hostess. Sally makes an indelible impression on Donna -- throwing caution to the wind (quite literally), she embarks on a career in the airlines as a flight hostess. Her first stop is at the meager Sierra Airlines (which only flies to and from Fresno) where she meets a few new friends (including Christina Applegate and Kelly Preston). After a short stint at Sierra, Donna quickly enrolls in flight school at Royalty Airlines, a company that appears to have been regurgitated from 1967. Trained by a bitter instructor (Mike Myers, the Austin Powers movies) who was grounded because of a lazy eye, Donna ends up stuck in Cleveland not on Royalty's trans-Atlantic, as she'd hoped, but on their much less impressive express line. It's in Cleveland that Donna meets Ted (Mark Ruffalo, You Can Count on Me), a nice guy who she falls in love with. But when Donna's forced to decide between her career and love...well, let's just say it ends up being a bumpier ride than anyone expected.
After watching View from the Top, I was struck by how much I enjoyed it and how little I have to say about it. How much can you espouse about a movie that deals with a woman's plight to become a flight attendant and find happiness in the warm arms of love? View from the Top's uncomplicated story is so fluffy you wonder how it was able to garner a theatrical release. This is in no way to say that the film is bad; quite the contrary, in fact. View from the Top is a cute, unabashedly warm slice of sentimentality that features Gwyneth Paltrow in fine romantic comedy form. She walks around the picture in slinky outfits that are never too revealing, yet somehow hug her body as if they were made of Spandex. Paltrow's perky demeanor is given full range here, as when she interacts with her two hostess buddies, played with wall décor appeal by Christina Applegate (The Sweetest Thing) and Kelly Preston (Mrs. John Travolta). Yet they're all almost overshadowed by the appearance of Mike Myers as a batty flight school teacher with a lazy eye. Myers, a comedian who can sometimes play it a little too broadly, is given free reign to ham it up for the sake of...well, being hammy. There are other supporting roles, such as Rob Lowe as a captain and Candice Bergin as a successful attendant turned author, but they're all but overshadowed by Paltrow's surprisingly sweet glow. The screenplay by Eric Wald (his first screenplay) is short and sweet (87 minutes!) and never delves into mean-spiritedness at the expense of the characters. There are many laughs throughout the movie yet they're more subtle than laugh-out-loud funny -- in other words, there aren't any poop gags anywhere to be seen. Yes, a movie about flight attendants is a bit silly, but no less silly than half of the other junk spewed out by Hollywood on a weekly basis. There is a wonderful message running through this film: be who you are and follow your dreams. And when was the last time we got to see a movie that deals with a real profession, and not some high-paying position only 0.0028% of the population will ascend to? View from the Top is a romantic comedy as substantial as cotton candy and, God bless it, I wouldn't have it any other way.
A View from the Top is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. Wow! For a film of such an inconsequential nature, this transfer sure does look top notch. I noticed no major defects -- edge enhancement, dirt, and haloing are all absent from this print. The colors -- and there are a lot of them -- are vibrant and full without any edge bleeding. The black levels are solid and void of any grayish tinting. Buena Vista has done a fine job at making sure this image looks exceptional. The soundtrack is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround in English and French. Generally speaking, this sound mix is very good, if not great -- the bulk of the mix is very front heavy with the songs and music score getting the most prominent placing in the rear and side speakers. While the 5.1 mix may not blow the roof off your sound system, the dialogue, effects, and music are all crystal clear and free of any distortion. Also included on this disc are English subtitles.
Get ready to take off with a fine little package of extra features served by Buena Vista! "History of the Flight Attendant" is a fluffy ten-minute piece on the history of flight attendants. Starting as trained medical nurses to showy attendants to the ones you see today, this slight overview of the airline hosts should provide viewers with a nice background on the profession after you've watched the film. "A Journey Inside View from the Top" is a short featurette of talking head interviews and clips from the film -- there isn't a lot of information available in this brief promo reel. Finally there is a brief look at the music from the film, including some snippets from various musicians doing their thing (singing, looking sexy, et cetera), as well as a few trailers for various Miramax movies and DVDs.
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Scales of Justice
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
Running Time: 87 Minutes
Release Year: 2003
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
* "History of the Flight Attendant" Featurette
* "A Journey Inside View from the Top" Featurette
* The Music of View from the Top
* Theatrical Trailers
* Official Site