View from the Top

“View from the Top” stinks like it was made by rank amateurs, and particularly incompetent ones, at that. And yet it stars Gwyneth Paltrow, Mark Ruffalo, Mike Myers, Candice Bergen, Rob Lowe and Christina Applegate, all of whom can get better work if they want to. The director, Bruno Barreto, has made more than a dozen films in his native Brazil, and a couple in America, too. Only the screenwriter, Eric Wald, is brand-new — and indeed, it’s the screenplay that’s the most worthless.

What Wald did to convince someone his script was worth producing is beyond me. I assume witchcraft was involved. I am honestly baffled in my attempts to determine what this movie was supposed to be. It reads like a romantic comedy: A girl from a small town follows her dreams of becoming a stewardess and seeing the world, finding love along the way. But it has far more scenes dealing with the woman’s career than with her boyfriend. Those scenes would naturally be the “comedy” part of the romantic comedy, except they aren’t funny even in a rudimentary sense, and often don’t even seem to be trying. They’re barely scenes, let alone humorous scenes.

So what IS this movie?

Paltrow plays Donna, the aforementioned small-town daughter of Nevada trailer trash who is inspired by stewardess-turned-motivational-speaker Sally Winston (Bergen) to become a stewardess herself. She undergoes her training with Christine (Applegate), who is either a friend or a rival, depending on the scene. She does poorly on her test and gets a crap job in Cleveland, where she hooks up with Ted (Ruffalo), who is studying to become a lawyer. Then, when her ship comes in, she has to choose between Ted and her career.

Of the many complications in the film’s plot, not one is ever the least bit tense or interesting, mainly because they are all solved quickly and without passion. Here’s a problem, there’s a solution. Next!

Paltrow and company sleepwalk through their performances, except for Mike Myers, who shows up as a cross-eyed instructor just long enough to get his name in the credits and earn 1 1/2 laughs.

Rob Lowe’s in it for a couple minutes, then he disappears. The film’s only 87 minutes long; I have to believe quite a few scenes were cut out. Not that I wanted this movie to be any longer than it was, but perhaps it would have been more intelligible a few more things had been left in.

It is true that you should follow your dreams. But be careful what you wish for. All of these people dreamed of being movie stars, and look what happened to them.

F (1 hr., 27 min.; PG-13, some profanity, some sexuality.)