Gwyneth Paltrow stars in VIEW FROM THE TOP, a “Get-me-out-of-this-small-town-and-let-me-realize-my-dreams-but-oops-I-might-have-fallen-in-love” comedy. It’s campy and cute in spots, but the plot is over-used and generic. Paltrow plays Donna Jenson, a Nevada woman who works at “Big Lots” – a discount store where her boyfriend is the manager. When he breaks up with her, via a greeting card, she knows it’s heaven’s sign she needs to move up and out.
Donna sets her sights on becoming a flight attendant, a dream fueled by seeing an interview of a woman named Sally (Candice Bergen) as she talks about how she went from undervalued and insecure to on-top-of-the-world and a transformer of the stewardess industry. With big hair and tight skirts, Donna and her girlfriends (played by Kelly Preston and Christina Applegate) begin work for a tacky puddle-jumper airline that flies gamblers and drunks between two boring cities.
When a larger airline advertises for flight attendants, the girls audition before John Whitney (Mike Myers), a humorous but bitter trainer with one crazy eye that looks in another direction. The Kelly Preston character insults Myers and doesn’t make it, but the other two undergo Whitney’s rigorous and hilarious stewardess training.
Even though Donna is an enthusiastic, perfect student and her friend is rather dim-witted, her friend gets the glamorous New York job, and she only gets another lame, puddle-jumping schedule, stationed out of Columbus. She cries to her now-mentor, Sally, who manages to check the test scores and find some interesting surprises that begin reversing her destiny.
In the meantime, Donna starts falling for a hunky guy in law school, Ted, but even though he makes her feel like she “finally found home,” she reasons that, “I can’t let somebody tell me that I’ve seen enough.” She leaves the guy when she gets a cushy Paris assignment, but when she runs into her mentor overseas, she finds out that her perceptions of truth might be somewhat askew. Donna must decide, at a crucial moment, whether to follow her head or her heart.
VIEW FROM THE TOP starts out as a comedy and ends as a rather serious drama. There are some strange appearances from stars that never really show up again, like Rob Lowe and Stacey Dash, and apparently some cameos of Christian Slater and Regis Philbin were also cut.
Though Mike Myers is always funny, and especially so with his strange eye and jerky, nerdy movements, the movie is strangely constructed. The benefits of realizing the big flight attendant dream are not readily apparent, and the shallowness of the sexy stewardess bimbos is rather unsettling. The audiences probably are not making the decision with Donna to leave her love interest to pursue her career. As a matter of fact, it is more likely that most single female flight attendants would happily give up their travel headaches to settle down and snuggle by a fire with the likes of hunky, adoring “Ted in Ohio.”
Also sad and distasteful is Donna’s relationship with a male homosexual flight attendant, who shares his desires to also get a great guy and who flirts with Sally’s husband at a dinner party. The movie needed more positive sympathy for the characters; it’s the number one rule of screenwriting for a mass audience. Audiences have to like at least the protagonist and root for them along the way, making decisions with them. Someone described the characters in VIEW FROM THE TOP as cardboard.… Maybe so.
The worldview of VIEW FROM THE TOP is devoid of any concern for what God would choose, and it tries to sell career and romance as the only fulfillment for happiness in life. With a few great funny scenes, like Donna’s first flight where she panics and scares the passengers, VIEW FROM THE TOP will get some laughs but certainly not grip people’s hearts with any compelling truths.
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(PaPa, Ho, LL, V, S, A, D, M) Worldly outlook portraying life aim as either career or romance with many homosexual references with humor and portrayal of sleeping together before marriage, though no sexual activity is shown; 13 obscenities and 24 light profanities; comedic violence with girls beating each other up; homosexual flirts with woman's husband; portrayals of alcohol and smoking; and, stealing, lying, cheating, betrayal.