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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » View From The Top
View From The Top
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment // PG-13 // September 9, 2003
List Price: $29.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted August 27, 2003 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:


"View From The Top" is another one of Miramax's shelf items that the studio has finally given a release (the film was completed in 2001). Surprisingly enough, the lightweight picture stars Gwyneth Paltrow; while Paltrow has succeeded in comedy before, she seems like she's slumming in this low-budget laugher.

Paltrow stars as Donna, a young woman from a small Nevada town who dreams of becoming a flight attendant. After finding inspiration in the latest book of an attendant-gone-famous (Candance Bergen), she starts off her career in the air at Fresno-based Sierra Airlines, where she's stuck wearing tight outfits and catering to gamblers. Accompanied by Sherry (Kelly Preston) and Christine (Christina Applegate), Donna's happy, yet unsatisfied.

When high-class airline Royal is hiring, all three girls apply, but only Donna and Christine get in. Only one will get the much-desired New York to Paris route and one will end up on the express out of Cleveland. Despite her impressive knowledge of all the skills that an attendant must possess, Donna finds herself on the latter route. Yet, Cleveland rejoins her with former Southwestern love interest Ted (Mark Ruffalo), back in Cleveland to to back to law school. Romance ensues. Problems return - Donna finds that she really can achieve her dreams of classy routes, but at what cost? Is Christine friend or foe? Why does the movie look like its supposed to be in the 70's when it's actually supposed to be present day?

I suppose that the cast was attracted by director Bruno Barretto, whose "Bossa Nova" gained a cult following that I still don't claim to understand. Once again, I'm unimpressed with the director's work - the film sort of veers between tones and really isn't the "wacky" comedy that the (terrible) trailers for the film make it out to be. In fact, it's more a sweet, inspirational tale of a girl trying to achieve her particular dream. To her credit, Paltrow makes a fair amount of the movie work - she sells the material for all it's worth, and turns Donna into a likable character that, despite nothing much going on around her, pulls the movie along. Preston and Applegate hardly get much to do, with Preston exiting early on. There's only mild chemistry between Ruffalo and Paltrow. The source of most of the film's laughs is Mike Meyers, who takes a stale gag (his character, who trains the flight attendants, has one lazy eye) and really makes the most out of it. He's not doing anything really that he hasn't done before, but his timing is, once again, perfection.

Obviously, this is a light-weight effort; a comedy where problems are brought to the table and solved without much worry moments later. The breezy picture even runs less than 90 minutes, and moves along fairly well (although it feels like its been through a few rounds in the editing room during its stay on the shelf). I certainly can't say it's anything close to a great movie, but it's one of those movies that so desperately wants to be likable that, in this case, I couldn't resist. It's a slight, predictable film with some concerns, but Paltrow manages to inject enough charm to make it likable and even fairly involving. Rent it.


The DVD

VIDEO: "View From The Top" is presented by Miramax in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. This is a perfectly pleasant transfer that only has a couple of minor issues. Sharpness and detail are first-rate almost consistently, with only a couple of minor instances of softness. The DVD looked a little better than what I remember seeing theatrically, as the film appeared a bit brighter.

The flaws present were brief and minimal; a couple of specks appeared on the print used and a little bit of edge enhancement was noticed in a couple of scenes. Other than that, things remained clean and clear. The film's color palette is certainly bright and vivid, and appears accurately rendered on this DVD edition. Colors here looked well-saturated, bold and without any concerns. Although nothing stunning, still a perfectly nice presentation.

SOUND: "View From The Top" is presented by Miramax in Dolby Digital 5.1. The film's soundtrack is clearly a "comedy" presentation, driven almost entirely by dialogue. Once the score kicks in (a mix of 70's and 80's pop - once again, when is this film supposed to be?), it does get reinforced by the surrounds a little bit, but other than that, the surrounds remain silent. Audio quality was fine, as dialogue remained clear and music had a nice, full presence.

EXTRAS: A 10-minute featurette on the history of flight attendants, a 6-1/2 minute featurette on the making of "View From the Top" and a 3-minute featurette on the music of the movie.

Final Thoughts: While a flawed movie, "View From The Top" remained charming and sunny enough to be at least moderately involving. As goofy as it is, it's a nice movie with a nice message. Miramax's DVD doesn't have much in the way of supplements, but offers fine audio/video quality. Those interested should try a rent.

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