View From the Top
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The story is about an aspiring flight attendant. But when exactly does it take place? That was the only question occupying space in my battered brain after sitting through this 90-minute slice of comedic drivel (an hour and a half that seemed to take all afternoon). I wasn’t basking in the warmth of onscreen love finally found. I wasn’t inspired by a lonely girl’s protracted journey to fly the friendly skies. I just wanted to know when it happened. Early clues such as Madonna-inspired wardrobe selections, obtrusive placements of a Rubik’s Cube and Bon Jovi tunes jamming on the radio scream 1986. But the 1960s-style (orange) airline uniforms say Gwyneth Paltrow’s Donna came of age 20 years earlier. Then, without so much as a Back to the Future fare-thee-well, it’s 2001. Paris boasts its millennium ferris wheel, but Donna’s no more than a month or two older. Only her hairstyle and clothes have changed. It’s as if the filmmakers somehow forgot that they shot the first half of their movie on the set of Flashdance before moving across town to elbow aside the cast members of Friends for a glimpse of present-tense New York.
And that’s just one of the sedately paced View From the Top’s many flaws.
Donna is a small-town Nevada girl who can’t seem to break away from her "trailer-trash" past (director Bruno Barreto adds sexy and sleazy to the mix, then milks this stereotype for all it’s worth). Longing to see the world, Donna gets a job as a stewardess (that’s what she’s called in the movie, another clue to the script’s timeless floundering) at a Podunk commuter airline. From there, she secures a slot at top-drawer carrier Royalty Airlines’ training school, where she submits to the quasi-quirky tutelage of the resident lazy-eyed instructor, John (Mike Myers in what may be his dumbest and most humorless role yet). Cheated out of her rightful place as an ace newbie, she’s shunted to Cleveland to baby-sit a commuter route. Not exactly New York to Paris. Cleveland brings with it love, however, as she falls for, then moves in with, the man of her dreams, Ted. Shortly thereafter, her stellar test scores are resurrected and she’s offered "Paris/First Class/International." So it’s bye-bye lover boy, hello bright lights and long nights. But will Donna be happy now that her life’s ambition is securely strapped into the jump seat beside her? Are you kidding?
positive elements: Silly though it may be in this setting, there’s a strong message sent that teens can do anything they want with their lives if they apply themselves and strive to always do their best. A mentor tells Donna, "You can have everything you want to if you stay focused and you follow your head, not your heart." Mixed-bag advice on closer examination, but Donna gets the point. She studies hard to become a flight attendant, and doesn’t let occasional discouragement and setbacks get in her way. When she finds out that roomie Christine has stolen seemingly insignificant items (decorative soaps) from their mentor’s home, she reprimands her friend anyway, lecturing her on the virtues of honesty and of playing by the rules. Ultimately, her friend’s kleptomania is punished and honesty is rewarded. Realizing that the reality of her dreams isn't as pretty as the fantasy that sent her chasing them, Donna has the wisdom to reevaluate her life and reset her internal navigation. Intact, loving families are lauded.
nudity and sexual content: There are more short skirts (with cleavage to match) in this movie than at a Dallas Cowboys cheerleading tryout. Donna and her girlfriends flaunt their bodies, manipulating their outfits for optimal sex appeal. Straight skirts. Miniskirts. Halter tops. Bikinis. Panties. Bath towels. Early on, after locking lips with her high school boyfriend, Donna teases him with an invitation to watch her change clothes. Later, after her bikini clasp breaks, she’s seen hugging its top to her chest as Ted fixes it for her. Christine urges Ted to rub suntan oil on her back and shoulders. He obliges, but resists her obvious come-ons. Donna and Ted make out a few times, and the two move in together shortly after they begin dating (sex is implied). There are jokes about sexual pain, circumcision and polar bear testicles. Homosexual gags include images of a gay flight attendant positioned with his face buried in a male mannequin’s crotch.
violent content: While acquainting viewers with Donna’s past, the movie shows her mother’s fourth husband lying on the couch in their trailer. His son walks by and whacks him on the top of his head. A fight between Donna and Christine has a jealous Christine throwing most of the punches. Before it’s over, she has pushed Donna down and begun smashing her face into a loaf of bread.
crude or profane language: A half-dozen s-words fly out of theater speakers, along with close to a dozen milder profanities. The number of misuses of God’s name reaches 30-plus.
drug and alcohol content: That early scene of Donna’s stepfather depicts him drunk. Donna jokes about becoming an alcoholic when her life refuses to shape up. She and her friends all have occasional drinks of beer and wine. Alcohol is served in airplanes. Sherry smokes cigarettes.
conclusion: USA Today informs me that our cultural fascination with flight attendants dates back to May 15, 1930. That’s when the very first one, Iowan Ellen Church, boarded Boeing Air Transport. She and many of her early peers were nurses, hired to soothe a skittish public’s sky-shy nerves. They exist on one end of the spectrum. On the other comes the news that Hooters of America has decided to offer more wings than just the deep-fried, spicy variety. The restaurant chain, known for flaunting its well-endowed waitresses, has created its own limited-route airline which features "Hooters Girls" as flight attendants, wearing their well-known "uniforms." View From the Top has more in common with the latter, and offers about as much taste.
Crude or Profane Language
Drug and Alcohol Content
Other Negative Elements
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Gwyneth Paltrow as Donna; Mike Myers as John; Christina Applegate as Christine; Kelly Preston as Sherry; Candice Bergen as Sally; Mark Ruffalo as Ted
Bruno Barreto ( )