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View from the Top

  view from the top
Gwyneth Paltrow wistfully remembers good scripts.

© 2003, Miramax
All Rights Reserved

Donna (Gwyneth Paltrow) has big dreams of leaving her poor life in Silver Springs, NV. After catching a glimpse of a former flight attendant (Candice Bergen) who has made it to a posh life, Donna decides to sign on with a local airline, and begin a life for herself. Stuck at the bottom with her two friends (Christina Applegate and Kelly Preston), Donna attempts to better herself and applies to Royalty Airlines, the finest airline of them all. Under the tutelage of a wannabe flight attendant (Mike Myers, disconcertingly unfunny), Donna comes within striking distance of achieving her dreams of independence, all the while risking her heart to a sweet man (Mark Ruffalo, "You Can Count on Me") that she cannot seem to keep herself away from.

"View from the Top" (IMDb listing) is a film that almost seems tired of itself. It has so many themes, tones and performers running through it, that it never gels into the film it desires to be. Directed by Bruno Barreto ("Bossa Nova"), the film aims to be a motivational story of achieving dreams and living your life to the fullest. Fine sentiments, but these messages are placed inside a cardboard film that has no organic emotions or desires. The film also wants to be a campy, slapstick comedy, yet retrieve honest-to-God sentiments from the audience with cliched drama it never makes concrete. The two temperatures don't mix adequately enough, leaving the comedy flat and the characters meaningless. "View from the Top" has good life messages, but not one interesting way to deliver them.

To compound the film's complacency as a tedious audience pleaser, Barreto crams the film with some of the most awful AOR/"the studio is making me do this" music I've ever heard from a soundtrack. Even worse than the actual tunes are their placement in the film, which uses the same obvious song, "Time After Time," to underscore every scene of Donna's hardships.

Gwyneth Paltrow has had her share of turkeys, but "View" is a film that utterly defines what can go wrong with the actress. In chasing good roles, Paltrow is often duped into scripts that have little dimension other than their glowing messages of hope. Movies like "Duets" and "Sliding Doors" share the same worn-out feeling that "View" gives me, and that's not for a lack of effort on Paltrow's part. A shimmering performer, Paltrow is at the mercy of Barreto's halfhearted vision for his film, thus taking her performance down with him. Clad in outrageously clowny hairstyles and outfits, and given script pages that ask her to cry over characters we barely meet, or experiences she's only just beginning, Paltrow is wasted in "View." She's an ornament with no tree to twinkle on.

Even at 80 minutes, "View From The Top" is a bore to sit through. The film tries transparently to show it was "fun" with some end credit outtakes, yet those are about as funny as the rest of the film. And I bailed from the theater when the cast started dancing and belting out "We are Royalty," to the tune of "We are Family." Maybe they had more fun making the film, but when it came time to put the picture together, all the joy had already been squeezed out.

Filmfodder Grade: D

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