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'View from Top' belongs at the bottom of list

VIEW FROM THE TOP — * 1/2 — Gwyneth Paltrow, Mark Ruffalo, Christina Applegate, Mike Myers, Candice Bergen, Kelly Preston, Joshua Malina; rated PG-13 (vulgarity, profanity, slapstick violence); see "Playing at local movie theaters" for complete listing of local theaters.

Ha. And ha. You may need to check your funnybone as well, if you're unfortunate enough to sit through "View from the Top." That's because this alleged comedy is almost completely laugh-free.

It also continually begs the question — was anything left on the cutting-room floor? Judging by the false climaxes, go-nowhere subplots and supporting characters introduced and then ignored, you might think so.

What's really surprising is that the filmmakers could scrape up any cast to appear in this mess, much less one with a couple of Oscar-winners and nominees in its ranks.

Gwyneth Paltrow stars as Donna Jensen, a wannabe flight attendant with a chronic case of bad luck.

After finishing first in her training class, she's expecting big things to happen. Instead, she's assigned to one of her airline's express routes, rather than one of the more exotic New York flights that takes its passengers and crew to Paris and other European locales.

So Donna finds herself stuck in Cleveland. While she's there, she gets a second chance with Ted (Mark Ruffalo), a law student and former flame. But just as the two seem ready to take that great leap forward, Donna gets her chance to go to Europe after all; it turns out there was a mix-up with her test results. Of course, that means leaving Ted behind.

As spectacularly unfunny as this material is, it's also completely predictable. You have to wonder what Brazilian director Bruno Barreto ("Bossa Nova") saw in this script, aside from the paycheck.

The same could be said for Paltrow, who's unconvincing as her poor-white-trash character. Her affected accent comes and goes, and she has virtually no chemistry with co-star Ruffalo.

Still, she's better than most of the supporting cast — especially Mike Myers, who has never been worse than he is here in the role of an airline trainer with a "wacky" eye problem.

"View from the Top" is rated PG-13 for some crude sexual references and innuendo, scattered use of profanity and slapstick violence (a "catfight"). Running time: 87 minutes.


E-mail: jeff@desnews.com