22 March 2003 | jessied
Not a Spectacular Sight
Director Bruno Barreto's A View from the Top is hardly a sight worth seeing. Gwyneth Paltrow, Mike Myers, Candice Bergen, Christina Applegate, Kelly Preston, Rob Lowe, and a handful of other recognizable faces round out this eclectic, all-star cast burdened by screenwriter Eric Wald's lackluster script. Pacing problems, hit-and-miss dialogue, and an overly didactic ending keep this film from getting off the ground. The picture has a few original, well-written and well-acted scenes, but the key word is `few' and there certainly aren't enough lovable or laughable moments to deem this insipid film a romantic comedy.
Donna (Paltrow)--an intelligent and ambitious young woman trapped in her tiny hometown of Silver Springs, Nevada--hits rock bottom when her high-school sweetheart breaks up with her in a birthday card. She quits her job and heads to the bar, but as she tosses her optimistic paper reminders into the garbage can, Sally (Bergen) speaks to her over the television screen. She deserves to make her dreams a reality. Silver Springs is not her destiny. Sally started out as a small-town girl, but she found fame and fortune--and it all started with her decision to become an airline stewardess. Donna buys Sally's book--a text she deems the Bible of airline etiquette--and within no time she interviews with a local commuter line, squeezes into her form-enhancing synthetic leather uniform, and learns how to fly by the motto, `Big hair, short skirts, and service with a smile.' The hilarious `We're gonna crash!' sequence is short and simple, but definitely the highlight of the entire film. Pretentious stewardesses from a more sophisticated airline inspire Donna to reach greater career heights, and she decides to interview for a place in the Royalty Airlines trainee program.
The interview eventually leads to acceptance into the program that ultimately allows Donna to travel the world as she encounters plenty of difficult decisions, unfortunate revelations, and plenty of heartache along the way. The interview also introduces the film's only steadfast source of humor--John Whitney (Myers). Myers continues his reign as a king of comedy by demonstrating how to turn mediocre material into majestic material. Whitney's lazy eye is cheap, physical humor, but Myers uses the abnormality to create a rich and engaging steward who aced his trainee program final but was never allowed to fly because of the required eye exam. His facial expressions, mannerisms, articulation, and speech patterns atone for all of the weaknesses inherent to his character, and Myers' personal style and improvisation attest to his incredible comedic ability. None of the actors had much to work with, but Myers proves something can be made out of nothing and leaves the rest of the mildly to greatly talented cast members looking like a bunch of amateurs.
Unlike other recent romantic-comedy disasters, A View from the Top resonates with its audiences on certain levels. The film inaccurately portrays all of the airline stewardesses as young, beautiful twenty-to-thirty-something women--with the exception one effeminate, gay steward--and secures other fallible small-town stereotypes, but comedies thrive on generalities whether they are current or dated and so Ward should not be criticized on account of the misrepresentations. One should also note that he includes themes that help spectators identify with the characters: he highlights the humorous nature of serious triviality in many of the training scenes, exposes the fallacy of the `cheaters never win' axiom, shows that success doesn't happen over night, and bravely counters current social ideology by suggesting that a simple life with a significant other is preferable to an unpredictable and exciting life alone. Attempts to connect with audience members were commendable and Myers is unforgettable, but too many other flaws keep this film from taking flight.