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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

View from the Top (review)

Take Off

So this is the movie about Gwyneth Paltrow dreaming of escaping the hell of small-town America and so she applies to med school and studies hard and sacrifices and becomes a microbiologist and goes to Africa and finds a cure for Ebola and falls in love with the handsome son of the tribal chief which causes a scandal but it’s all okay in the end when she leads the people in revolution to freedom?

Well, no. Pretty American girls with long blond hair don’t aspire to be microbiologists… not in the movies, I mean.

So this is the movie where Gwynnie dreams of escaping the hell of small-town America and so she becomes a stewardess and wears a snazzy uniform and travels to exotic places and falls in love with a handsome pilot which causes a scandal but it’s all okay in the end when she lands the plane in the middle of a storm?

Well, yes and no. Yes to the becoming a stewardess and no to the rest. Yes to the glamour of international travel and no to the rest.

So this is set in like the 1960s, right, when flight attendants were actually still called stewardesses and international travel was maybe still glamorous and serving people drinks at 30,000 feet was the only way for a nice girl to get to Paris?

Well, no. This is all happening today, though there’s an awful lot of inexplicable 80s music on the soundtrack.

So then Gwynnie (Possession, Shallow Hal) has to deal with things like air rage and not letting people go to the bathroom during the last 30 minutes of a flight for “security purposes” and looking suspiciously on all swarthy foreign types and invasive searches at the terminal and armed 17-year-old National Guardsmen roaming the check-in counters and impeding her confident stride in her snazzy uniform as she happily pulls her wheeled carryon toward the gate?

Well, no, it’s all beer and skittles, strangely enough. No disgruntled passengers (except for the one Royalty Airlines instructor Mike Myers portrays for training and comedic purposes, though the comedy is as uncomfortable as coach), no terror alerts, no confiscation of tweezers, no bomb-sniffing dogs (though their noses would have been twitching at this flick in a second), no long lines at metal detectors. It’s pretty mysterious, in fact, as if the script (by first-timer Eric Wald) had either been sitting around for 40 years and would originally have starred like Audrey Hepburn or was written recently by someone whose entire experience of airline travel was gleaned from movies of the 1960s. Oh, I’m sure it’s intended to be all chic and retro about flying — remember those fun, innocent times? — and maybe that could have worked if it didn’t try it’s damnedest to be all chic and retro about women’s aspirations too and didn’t sugarcoat the unforgiving job of taking care of miserable, uncomfortable people who paid too much to be treated like cattle. Gwynnie’s huge New York apartment, and with a view, no less? Oh, please. On the money they pay flight attendants, she’d be lucky to share a one-bedroom with four other girls in a shady Brooklyn neighborhood.

So does anything actually, like, happen in this movie?

Well, not much. Gwynnie dreams of escaping the hell of small-town America and so she becomes a stewardess and learns Henry Higgins type stuff like “poise” like all nice girls should learn and she goes to Paris and wears a beret and discovers that it doesn’t mean anything without the handsome but rather boring man she loves (Mark Ruffalo: You Can Count on Me, The Last Castle, apparently atoning for some sin). It won’t even be worth waking up for when it’s the inevitable in-flight movie.


MPAA: rated PG-13 for language/sexual references

viewed at a semipublic screening with an audience of critics and ordinary moviegoers

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