Xpress, the Coolest Section of the St. Petersburg Times, is the home for features, news and views of interest to young readers. Most of the work in Xpress, which appears on Mondays in Floridian, is produced by the Times' X-Team. The team of journalists ages 9-17 from around the Tampa Bay area is selected every year at the end of the school year to serve during the following school term. The current team of 12 was chosen out of 150 applicants. Watch for X-Team application forms in Xpress during the month of May.

Read the reviews by Xpress Film Critic Billy Norris

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Movie Review

Not much of a view

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Read Billy's movie reviews on his special archive page.

© St. Petersburg Times
published March 31, 2003

Movie: View From the Top

Rating: PG-13

Summary: Donna (Gwyneth Paltrow) is a small-town woman with dreams of traveling the world, but she feels stifled by her background. When she thinks that her chance to move away has finally arrived, her boyfriend, who was her ticket out of town, breaks up with her. She is once again left to fend for herself in rural Silver Springs, Nev. While sulking in a bar, Donna is inspired by a woman named Sally Weston (Candice Bergen) whom she sees on Oprah; she was once in nearly the same situation as Donna but went on to make it big as the greatest flight attendant ever. Donna decides at that moment to pursue a similar path to success. Her first stepping-stone is with a measly local commuter airline, but she firmly believes that everyone has to start somewhere. She won't let anything stand in the way of her aspiration to earn the esteemed title of "first class international flight attendant."

Gwyneth Paltrow, left, with Kelly Preston
Gwyneth Paltrow, left, with Kelly Preston, is a flight attendant with a dream in View From the Top.

My view: This movie just wallowed in mediocrity. The plot never truly peaked. The acting by Paltrow and Christina Applegate, who plays a competing flight attendant, was hardly stunning. It lacked enthusiasm and conviction, and was uninspired. But Bergen made up for that somewhat. The comedic blips were too few and far between, and the ending was definitely an eye-roller. Maybe this would do better as a TV movie. I was (yawn) just unimpressed.

Favorite part: Mike Myers was the biggest bright spot. His role as John Whitney, the flight attendants' trainer (with a pronounced lazy eye), didn't allow him too much free space to showcase his hilarious improvisational skills, but he did seize every opportunity available. He really had the physical comedy thing working for him. The outtakes, which were dominated by Myers, proved to be the funniest part of the movie, so make sure you stick around for those.

Recommendations: I'd wait until this came out on video to see it, but if you decide to see it in the theater, don't expect much. Sexuality is not overly excessive, but it's definitely present. My best advice is to heed the PG-13 rating.

Grade: C-

-- Billy Norris, 15, is in ninth grade at Seminole High School and is a former member of the Times' X-Team.

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