Reviewed by: Megan Basham
Question for your consideration…
Starring: Gwyneth Paltrow, Christina Applegate, Candice Bergen, Marc Blucas, Rob Lowe | Directed by: Bruno Barreto | Produced by: Brad Grey, Matthew Baer, Bobby Cohen | Written by: Roger Kumble, Eric Wald | Distributor: Miramax
The glitz, the glamour, the awards being handed out to some undeserving films and a few undeserving people. Well, thank goodness that Oscar mess, with its blatant anti-Americanism and obscene lack of national gratitude, is finally over and we can all get back to discussing the kinds of films average Americans like to see. Miramax’s “View from the Top” features a funny cast, a charming story, and (can you believe it) happy women optimistically pursuing their dreams. After the depression, suicide, and murder that reigned supreme all winter, it is nothing short of breath of fresh cinematic air.
The film stars a surprisingly convincing Gwyneth Paltrow as Donna, a small-town girl who longs to leave her ex-stripper mother and string of step-fathers behind to see the world. Not sure how to begin, the answer to her prayers comes in the form of a self-help book from the world’s most famous flight-attendant (Candace Bergen). Though rough going at first, Donna’s enthusiasm proves infectious as she and two friends set out to become stewardesses on a prestigious, international airline. Naturally, love finds Donna along the way and she has to choose between pursuing her old dream or taking a chance on a new one.
With some foul language and an indication that Donna is sleeping with her boyfriend before they’re married (though no nudity or sex scenes are included), “View from the Top” earns its PG-13 rating. However, unlike a few other releases aimed at young women, the rating is honest and several elements could make it a positive film for older teenagers and adults.
So many women in romantic comedies lately seem to have this cynical, hard-edged careerism to them. And while that’s fine in its own respect, one can’t help but wonder what kind of pressure this puts on millions of young girls who are constantly getting the message: “This is what a woman is supposed to be in the 21st century, so you better toughen up.” Take for example the recent “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days,” though amusing and well-acted, the main character spends almost the entire film lying to the person she’s dating all in a callous bid to “get the story.” Donna’s model as a positive, encouraging, sweet, if nave flight attendant seems far preferable (and frankly, more Biblical) than this new, “anything for my job” ideal.
The film also takes on the secular notion that it’s somehow more fulfilling to experience the world and achieve great success than to commit to being part of a family and sacrificing for that for that commitment. In fact, for many of us, God’s plan is not that we should be sophisticated jet-setters, but rather mature Christian couples who provide a witness to neighbors while raising our children in “the way that they should go.”
Though not as funny as the trailers make it out to be (it’s really more romance than comedy), “View from the Top” manages to achieve a feel-good status while staying grounded in a realistic story-line. Most of us can relate to Donna’s conflict between career and commitment, unlike the extensive cases of mistaken identity that normally pass for plot in this genre. Without lying, scamming, or pretending to be someone else she still manages to get the guy. Plus, supporting cast members Mike Meyers and Candace Bergen both turn in sparkling performances, carrying the film through a couple of slower moments. It may not be gut-busting hysterical, but “View from the Top” still earns a solid “B.”