View from the Top

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View from the Top
View from the top poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byBruno Barreto
Produced byBrad Grey
Matthew Baer
Bobby Cohen
Written byEric Wald
StarringGwyneth Paltrow
Christina Applegate
Mark Ruffalo
Candice Bergen
Joshua Malina
Kelly Preston
Rob Lowe
Mike Myers
Music byTheodore Shapiro
Deborah Lurie
CinematographyAffonso Beato
Edited byChristopher Greenbury
Ray Hubley
Charles Ireland
Distributed byMiramax Films
Release date
  • March 21, 2003 (2003-03-21)
Running time
87 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$30 million
Box office$19.5 million

View from the Top is a 2003 American romantic comedy film directed by Bruno Barreto and starring Gwyneth Paltrow, Christina Applegate, Candice Bergen, Joshua Malina, Mark Ruffalo, Rob Lowe, Mike Myers, and Kelly Preston. The film follows a young woman (Paltrow) from a small town who sets out to fulfill her dream of becoming a flight attendant.


Donna Jensen is a girl from a small town in Nevada who wishes to see the world in order to get away from her unhappy life of living in a trailer with her alcoholic mother, a former Las Vegas showgirl, and her abusive, alcoholic stepfather, where she feels miserable and lonely. After graduating from high school, Donna tries to make ends meet by working as a clerk in a Big Lots.

After her boyfriend, Tommy, leaves her for another girl, she goes to a bar where she sees a talk show segment about Sally Weston, who has written a memoir called My Life in the Sky, and decides to follow her destiny by becoming a flight attendant. Her first position is at a small, seedy California commuter airline called Sierra, where she works with Sherry, a senior attendant, and also gets an intern herself, named Christine. After working for several months, this success builds up her confidence and encourages her to attend open interviews for Royalty Airlines. She convinces Sherry and Christine to join her at Royalty Airlines. While Christine and Donna get in, Sherry does not, and remains in Sierra Airlines.

After getting the job, Donna puts her heart and soul into the training camp, and, after meeting Weston, she is determined to be assigned to the top route, "Paris, First Class, International". Alas, when the assignments are posted, Donna is shocked and disappointed to discover that, instead of the top route, she has been assigned to a commuter route in Cleveland. Christine, who had initially struggled with the material and procedures, has inexplicably been assigned the high-priority New York City route, much to the dismay of Donna.

A few months later, by chance, Donna runs into Christine in Cleveland. Donna knows from previous experience that Christine has the airplane soap from Sally's house during their training sessions, but is still shocked when Christine empties her handbag to reveal all manner of Royalty Air items. Even the smallest theft is strictly prohibited by Royalty Airlines, and could mean termination. Still sure there was some sort of error in her route assignment, Donna turns to Weston for help. Through a course of events, Donna discovers that Christine had switched their test booklets when they were being handed up to their trainer.

With that, Donna realizes that Christine has cheated her way to the top route, wanting success herself but knowing that Donna would do better. When Sally asks to have airline security spy on Christine's flight—to see if she stole any property (a code blue)—Christine gets caught and is fired. Donna gets the chance to re-take her exam and achieves a perfect score, resulting in being assigned a Paris, First Class, International route. However, following her "destiny" means deciding between a boyfriend, Ted, and her career. She chooses the latter.

Though she gets all that she wants—Paris, first class, etc.—Donna realizes that she is still unhappy. She misses Ted terribly, and with Weston's encouragement, she returns to Cleveland to meet him. She does, and after a heartfelt speech to his deaf grandmother, which he overhears, the two reconcile. The film ends with Donna wishing her passengers well as they land in Cleveland, now moving her position from a flight attendant to a pilot.



View from the Top: Motion Picture Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by
ReleasedMarch 18, 2003
LabelCurb Records
ProducerMike Curb, Michael Lloyd
1."Suddenly"Andreas Carlsson, Desmond ChildLeAnn Rimes4:00
2."No Sign of It" (Humberto Gatica radio edit)Scott Cutler, Anne PrevenNatalie Grant4:03
3."Was That My Life?"Marv Green, Bill LutherJo Dee Messina3:49
4."I'm Not Anybody's Girl"Jason Levine, Jay McCollumKaci3:13
5."I've Been Waiting"Matt SlocumSixpence None the Richer4:18
6."Boys Don't Cry"Tiffany Arbuckle Lee, Matt BronleewePlumb3:48
7."Utopia"Johan Glössner, Sofia LoellSofia Loell3:42
8."Circle of Love"Del Harley, Allan Koppelberger, Laurie WebbTamara Walker3:41
9."The Bus Ride"Gary Burr, Matt Rollings, Anna WilsonAnna Wilson3:54
10."Sincerely"Alan Freed, Harvey FuquaG.G.3:15
11."Time After Time"Rob Hyman, Cyndi LauperKatie Cook4:04
12."Everywhere I Look, There's You"Michael Behymer, Mike Curb, Michael LloydTamara Walker3:57
Bonus tracks
13."Tickle Me"Danielle SpencerDanielle Spencer3:48
14."Downtime"Phillip Coleman, Carolyn Dawn JohnsonJo Dee Messina3:43
15."Suddenly" (Riva radio edit)Andreas Carlsson, Desmond ChildLeAnn Rimes4:08

Release and reception[edit]

View from the Top opened on March 21, 2003 (it was originally scheduled for Christmas 2001, but in light of the September 11 attacks and due to the fact that the story revolves around a flight attendant on numerous planes, the release was pushed back) and grossed $7,009,513 in its opening weekend, ranking number four behind Bringing Down the House, Dreamcatcher, and Agent Cody Banks.[2] The film would eventually gross $15,614,000 domestically and $3,912,014 internationally, totaling $19,526,014 worldwide, below the production budget of $30 million.[3]

On review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes the film has a rating of 14% based on reviews from 123 critics, with the site's consensus "Uneven in tone and badly edited, A View From the Top wastes the talents of its cast and condescends to its characters."[4] Paltrow herself later disparaged the film, calling it "the worst movie ever".[5]

After watching the film with his wife, Richard Ayoade, the British comedian, writer, actor, and director, found the film so unbearably bad and full of tropes that he wrote the book Ayoade on Top (2019), a tongue-in-cheek in-depth analysis of the film, arguing for the canonisation of "this brutal masterpiece".[6][7]


  1. ^ "VIEW FROM THE TOP (PG)". British Board of Film Classification. May 22, 2003. Retrieved November 8, 2014.
  2. ^
  3. ^ View from the Top at Box Office Mojo
  4. ^ View from the Top at Rotten Tomatoes
  5. ^ Valby, Karen (November 21, 2003). "Gwyneth Paltrow on her worst movie EVER!". Entertainment Weekly. New York City: Meredith Corporation. Retrieved June 8, 2018.
  6. ^ "Ayoade On Top". Retrieved September 21, 2019.
  7. ^ Under the Skin with Russell Brand, Episode #97: "Art, Greatness & "Turning" (with Richard Ayoade)." 13 September 2019.

External links[edit]