Fly Right, Straighten Up


Premised on sexist clichés and homophobic cartoons, glutted with wheezing gags and drooling soundtrack cues, View From the Top and Boat Trip fully exploit the sadistic potential of the conveyance comedy: confined spaces, no escape in sight, a very long haul. Grasping for a prelapsarian tone of jet-set insouciance that Catch Me If You Can achieved with much less strain, View From the Top rewinds its sexual politics even further back, presenting Gwyneth Paltrow’s ambitious flight attendant Donna with the mutually exclusive choices of (a) career (the fabulous New York-Paris route) and (b) romance (Mark Ruffalo’s Cleveland law student). Paltrow’s helplessly patrician trailer-trash princess, spurred by bestselling motivational mega-stewardess Candice Bergen, escapes her Nevada backwater and vaults from commuter shuttles to the ultimate prize: first class at Royalty Air.

Despite comic entanglements with Mike Myers’s cross-eyed attendant trainer and a catfight-justifying Christina Applegate rivalry, Donna’s skyward ascent is largely turbulence-free. The film, meanwhile, goes for that choppy, air-pocket sensation, veteran helmer Bruno Barreto directing like he’s never made a movie before, and never wants to again. Eventually, the exhaust roar of condescending affirmation drowns all else out. View From the Top mocks its protagonist’s dreams, even as it numbly fulfills them.

In Boat Trip, hetero horndogs Cuba Gooding Jr. and Horatio Sanz suffer major anal panic when they realize that a spiteful travel agent has booked them on a gay cruise. Surrounded by a contingent of lisping, preening, Liza-loving, “I Will Survive”-miming mannequins, Gooding and Sanz learn that gay people aren’t so disgusting after all, and that being gay helps you score with the ladies. The movie improves immeasurably if you visualize a looming iceberg in the corner of the frame.