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Bruno Barreto's `View From the Top' boasts a cute premise that doesn't quite live up to its potential. The film starts out in a satirical vein, promising to deliver a nifty spoof of life in the friendly skies. Instead, it settles into a typical romantic comedy formula, not bad as these things go, but nothing to write home about either. So while `View from the Top' never soars very high, neither does it end up crashing and burning. In this day and age, one must be grateful for a safe landing, even if the ride is a bumpy one.
Gwyneth Paltrow delivers a winning performance as Donna, a small town girl who becomes a stewardess as a way of escaping her dysfunctional family and white trash upbringing. The first part of the film is fun, as Donna earns her wings flying for a cut-rate airline whose attendants dress and act more like prostitutes than stewardesses. With their form-fitting, cleavage-exposing blouses, purple hot pants and big hair, these pleasantly perky hostesses look like they're ready to serve their passengers more than just the customary coffee, tea or milk. So far, so good - but once the girls move onto a more `legitimate' airline, much of the satiric bite drains out of the film and we move onto the more familiar terrain of catty rivalries, long distance romance, and unrequited love.
In addition to Paltrow, the movie features Christina Applegate, Rob Lowe, Candice Bergen and Mark Ruffalo in various roles. Mike Myers is surprisingly annoying in the part of a cross-eyed stewardess trainer. The screenplay by Eric Wald has a maddening tendency to drop characters along the way, giving the film a slapdash, unformed and oddly amateurish quality. As partial compensation, the film boasts superb production and costume design and a generally ebullient spirit.
`View From the Top' doesn't end up flying us anywhere special and it's definitely coach all the way, but it does serve up a few laughs in mid flight.
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