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Small-town Nevada girl Donna (Gwyneth Paltrow) works a dead-end job at a supermarket and dreams of pursuing a career that will enable her to see the world. After being dumped by her boyfriend, Donna lands a flight attendant's job at budget carrier Sierra Airlines and sets her sights on making it to the top with prestigious Royalty Airlines. Inspired by the best-selling autobiography by legendary stewardess Sally (Candice Bergen), Donna and her friends Sherry (Kelly Preston) and Christine (Christina Applegate) apply for enrolment at Royalty. Accepted into the ranks and seemingly on her way to reaching her goals, Donna must first overcome the treachery of Christine and prove herself worthy.

Review by Richard Kuipers:
It's appropriate that Candice Bergen has the mother superior role in View From The Top. Thirty years ago she'd have been on the shortlist to play the stewardess essayed by Gwyneth Paltrow in this inoffensive piece of fluff. It may be set in the present but the sensibility of this featherweight item are firmly grounded in the days when people dressed up to travel internationally and flight attendants were called "hosties", "trolley dollies" and "space waitresses".

As the small town girl who wants more from life, Paltrow glides on to the screen with an easy charm that makes her navigation through the rungs of airborne hospitality a pleasure to watch. Joining her are a group of pleasant performers including Christina Applegate as her back-stabbing best friend, Mike Myers as a steward training school chief and Mark Ruffalo as the love interest. The whole show goes off without a hitch as Donna gets her first break on a low-rent local carrier and gradually makes her way top the top thanks initially to the inspiring words in super-hostie Sally's (Bergen) autobiography and later from the woman herself.

Along the way you'll catch sight of Paltrow and Applegate in some gloriously hideous outfits (mini-skirt, plunging neckline, big hair) while working the boondocks on Sierra Airlines and the sweet romance between nice guy law student Ted (Ruffalo) and Donna has just enough friction to keep things interesting. Oddly enough, it's Myers who doesn't quite come up to scratch. He has a couple of funny moments as a cross-eyed training officer but too many of his routines feel forced and clumsy. Treading on the right side of the fine line between spirited performance and over-acting, Candice Bergen shines as the kind-hearted queen of the first-class cabin. You can see her character's payoff a mile away but it's still something to enjoy.

There's really not too much to complain about here as this innocent little film passes before your eyes and earns back the ticket price with a minimum of fuss. Inner city sophisticates will probably not take to this Bruno Barretto-directed film in large numbers but it has a good heart and should find a warm welcome elsewhere. Sometimes pure escapism is enough and this is one of those times.

'First Class' features include a History of the Flight Attendant featurette, a making of feature and one that canvasses the music in the film, with commentary by President Miramax Motion Picture Music, Randy Spendlove.

Published January 22, 2004

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CAST: Gwyneth Paltrow, Christina Applegate, Mark Ruffalo, Candice Bergen, Kelly Preston, Mike Myers, Marc Blucas, Jessica Capshaw

DIRECTOR: Bruno Barreto

SCRIPT: Eric Wald

RUNNING TIME: 87 minutes

PRESENTATION: 16:9 widescreen transfer

SPECIAL FEATURES: Featurettes - History of the Flight Attendant; A Journey Inside A View From the Top; Music from A View From the Top


DVD RELEASE: January 7, 2004

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