View From The Top


Directed by: Bruno Barreto
Written by:Eric Wald
Starring: Gwyneth Paltrow, Christina Applegate, Mark Ruffalo, Candice Bergen, Mike Myers
Released: July 31, 2003
Grade: B-

Flight attendants are people the public shares a genuine curiosity for.  Thousands apply world-wide each year apply and are put through rigorous training and testing programs.  It is also an occupation that has been immune to the wave of “equal opportunity” as the high standard of physical appearance is certainly no coincidence.  Many of us know stewardesses and hear tales of travelling all over the world, staying in lavish hotels and getting heavily discounted flights for friends and family.

View From The Top is the first film I can recall based on the life of a flight attendant.  Donna Jensen (played by Gwyneth Paltrow) is looking for direction in life and reads a book on the industry written by high-flier Sally Weston (Bergen).  It provides inspiration but the only job she can find is for a cheap airline which serves a very low class of clientle.  Despite the lack of glamour, she grows to love her work and makes two best friends.  She also meets Tim (Ruffalo), a man looking for his own direction, and the two become increasingly close.

Looking for a step up, Donna heads to a job convention and gets a chance to train for the more lucrative Royalty Express.  This scenario provides the entrance for Mike Myers who provides all of the film’s humour as John Whitney, the head instructor.  There’s even a few more snippets of Myers’ wit during the closing credits so don’t sneak off early.

Once the premise has been set up, it’s all largely predictable from there.  Donna succeeds in her quest at Royalty Express but has to sacrifice her relationship with Tim.  Will she learn that love is more important than work?  Need I answer?

Adding spice to the film is Candice Bergen in a role that befits her.  It’s certainly better than recent parts in Sweet Home Alabama and Miss Congeniality.  Sally Weston is an interesting character who helps Donna throughout and I enjoyed that fact her successes haven’t inflated her ego.  Mark Ruffalo (You Can Count On Me) is an actor I’m expecting big things from and he gives delivers another fine performance in a role that wouldn’t otherwise offer much.

I’m not sure what writer Eric Wald was aiming for with the screenplay.  There aren’t enough jokes for it to be a comedy and yet it’s too fluffy to be classed as a drama.  Flight attendants must have so many stories to tell about annoying passengers and strange incidents.  This angle needed to be explored further to give us more humour and a sense of purpose.  Plenty of flight attendants will be off to see View From The Top and they may be even more disappointed than the general public.