In a parody of rags-to-riches stories, Paltrow plays a small-town Nevada woman who, inspired by the life of a legendary airline attendant-turned-author (Candice Bergen), decides to make her fortune serving those who fly the friendly skies. From a third-rate local air service to the training program for luxurious Royalty Airlines, she energetically pursues her “destiny”: a spot in the aisle of Royalty's prestigious first-class New York-to-Paris run. Obstacles in her way include a jealous friend on the same career path (“The Sweetest Thing's” invaluable Christina Applegate) and a law student sweetheart (Mark Ruffalo from “You Can Count on Me”) whose affections could ground the heroine before she's had a chance to realize her ambitions.
As Brazilian director Bruno Barreto (“Bossa Nova”) navigates between the spoofy broad humor of the main story and the often sappy romantic subplot, his best asset is his strong cast of savvy comedy veterans (Applegate, Bergen) in the sorts of roles they do best. Not surprisingly, “Austin Powers” star Mike Myers contributes many of the film's laugh-out-loud bits as a zealous instructor whose own dream to become a top flight attendant was thwarted by a vision-impairing lazy eye. Hilarity is far scarcer in the rest of the picture, especially as the love story grinds toward its predictable conclusion in the last act. Complaints about outrageous movie star salaries are frequent, but “View From the Top” is a perfect example of why actors as charismatic as Paltrow and Myers can command them. Starring Gwyneth Paltrow, Christina Applegate, Mark Ruffalo, Candice Bergen, Kelly Preston, Rob Lowe and Mike Myers. Directed by Bruno Barreto. Written by Eric Wald. Produced by Brad Grey, Matthew Baer and Bobby Cohen. A Miramax release. Comedy. Rated PG-13 for language/sexual references. Running time: 86 min