View from the Top

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View from the Top
Theatrical release poster
Directed byBruno Barreto
Written byEric Wald
Produced byBrad Grey
Matthew Baer
Bobby Cohen
CinematographyAffonso Beato
Edited byChristopher Greenbury
Ray Hubley
Charles Ireland
Music byTheodore Shapiro
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, living in a Nevada trailer with her alcoholic mother and abusive stepfather, desperately wants to get away. After graduating high school, Donna struggles to earn a living working as a clerk in a Big Lots store with her high school boyfriend.

After her boyfriend leaves her, Donna sees a TV interview with Sally Weston, a former flight attendant who wrote a memoir titled, My Life in the Sky. Donna becomes a flight attendant for Sierra Airlines, a small, seedy regional airline. She works with senior attendant Sherry and Christine. During this time, she meets Ted. Donna wants to apply to Royalty Airlines, and convinces Sherry and Christine to do the same. While Christine and Donna are hired, Sherry is not, and she remains with Sierra.

Donna studies hard, and, after meeting Sally Weston, is determined to be assigned to the top position, "Paris, First Class, International". After training, Donna is shocked and disappointed to be assigned to a domestic route in Cleveland while Christine, who struggled during the training and learning the material, inexplicably is assigned the high-priority New York City route.

Although unhappy in Cleveland, Donna begins a relationship with Ted. A few months later, Donna runs into Christine. As they spend time together, Donna is shocked that Christine has stolen Royalty Air items in her handbag, because even the smallest theft could result in termination.

Donna suspects some error occurred in her route assignment. With Weston's help, Donna discovers that Christine switched their test I.D. numbers during their final exam.

Weston has airline security spy on Christine. Caught stealing, she is fired. Donna re-takes the exam, achieving a perfect score. She is assigned to a Paris, First Class, International route, though it means ending her relationship with Ted.

Donna soon realizes that she is lonely and unhappy and she misses Ted. With Weston's encouragement, she returns to Cleveland and she and Ted reconcile. The film ends with Donna wishing her passengers well as they land in Cleveland, though she is now a pilot.



In September 2000, it was announced Gwyneth Paltrow was in negotiations to star in View from the Top.[2] First time screenwriter Eric Wald was written as a spec script which was developed by Brad Grey before being sold to Miramax.[2] Rewrites were performed on the script by Roger Kumble.[2]


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.[3] 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.[4]

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, View From the Top wastes the talents of its cast and condescends to its characters."[5] Paltrow herself later disparaged the film, calling it "the worst movie ever".[6]

British comedian Richard Ayoade wrote the book Ayoade on Top, an in-depth comic analysis of the film, in 2019.[7][8] A portion of the promotional blurb for the book reads: "Ayoade argues for the canonisation of this brutal masterpiece, a film that celebrates capitalism in all its victimless glory; one we might imagine Donald Trump himself half-watching on his private jet's gold-plated flat screen while his other puffy eye scans the cabin for fresh, young prey."[9][10]


  1. ^ "VIEW FROM THE TOP (PG)". British Board of Film Classification. May 22, 2003. Archived from the original on November 8, 2014. Retrieved November 8, 2014.
  2. ^ a b c "Stew's tale on runway". Variety. Retrieved February 14, 2024.
  3. ^ "Domestic 2003 Weekend 12". Archived from the original on June 12, 2018. Retrieved February 19, 2020.
  4. ^ View from the Top at Box Office Mojo
  5. ^ View from the Top at Rotten Tomatoes
  6. ^ Valby, Karen (November 21, 2003). "Gwyneth Paltrow on her worst movie EVER!". Entertainment Weekly. New York City: Meredith Corporation. Archived from the original on June 12, 2018. Retrieved June 8, 2018.
  7. ^ "Ayoade On Top". Archived from the original on September 21, 2019. Retrieved September 21, 2019.
  8. ^ Under the Skin with Russell Brand, Episode #97: "Art, Greatness & "Turning" (with Richard Ayoade)." 13 September 2019.
  9. ^
  10. ^ "Ayoade on Top". Public Store View. Archived from the original on October 30, 2020. Retrieved September 23, 2020.

External links[edit]