Flying the friendly skies with Paltrow and friends

“View from the Top” was shelved for over a year. It was supposed to be released shortly after Sept. 11. Admittedly, this film added nothing to my life, and didn’t ever need to come out, but it does have entertainment value.

The movie’s premise is pretty simple. Donna (Gwyneth Paltrow) is a small-town girl who wants to escape from Silver Springs, Nev. and travel the world. Although Donna seems a bit dimwitted and has no support from her family, she perseveres throughout the entire movie as a strong character.

Her life in a rut, Donna sees a television interview with a highly successful flight attendant, Sally (Candice Bergen). Sally’s rags-to-riches story inspires Donna to go out and achieve her goals.

Donna gets a job as a flight attendant at a local, low-end airliner called Sierra Airlines, but she has never been on a plane. As the plane takes off, Donna frantically gets out of her seat screaming that they are going to crash. Seeing the normally reserved and refined Gwyneth Paltrow in teased 80s hair and a skintight tacky purple suit, screaming in the aisle of a plane, was hilarious.

Apart from that and a few select scenes, “View from the Top” is not an extremely funny film. Donna meets her two sidekicks, Sherry (Kelly Preston) and Christine (Christina Applegate) while working at Sierra Airlines. She also meets Ted (Mark Ruffalo), who is, at first, an underachiever. Inspired by Donna’s motivation, he decides to attend law school.

Donna and Christine attend flight school for Royalty Airlines. Their instructor, John Whitney (Mike Myers), is extremely bitter about how he could have been an excellent flight attendant if it wasn’t for the fact that he is cross-eyed. Myers is, as usual, hilarious. However, I think the part could have been written better.

In their final examination, Donna, the school’s star pupil, finds out that she is assigned to work in Cleveland, for Royalty Express’ discount branch. Christine, who is by far a poorer flight attendant than Donna, is assigned to New York City for Royalty Airlines. It is later revealed that Christine switched their tests.

Donna is stuck in Cleveland for at least a year, until she can be allowed to retest again. She runs into Ted again, who is conveniently a law student in Cleveland. They begin to date and fall in love, but after Donna retests and passes, she comes to a crossroad.

Gwyneth Paltrow displays a good mix of humor and intelligence in Donna’s character. In romantic comedies, many female characters are either clich?d or lack character. The audience can cheer for Donna, and the obstacles she faces are believable. “View from the Top” reminded me of “Legally Blonde” in its timing and look, but I enjoyed “Legally Blonde” more.

Bottom line: It’s safe to return to the skies when Gwyneth Paltrow is your flight attendant.