Bil’s rating (out of 5): B.
USA, 2003. Miramax, Brad Grey Pictures, Cohen Productions. Screenplay by Eric Wald. Cinematography by Affonso Beato. Produced by Matthew Baer, Bobby Cohen, Brad Grey. Music by Theodore Shapiro. Production Design by Dan Davis. Costume Design by Mary Zophres. Film Editing by Christopher Greenbury, Ray Hubley, Charles Ireland.
This woefully miscalculated comedy is confused about its style and plot from beginning to end, and confounds a game cast in the process. Gwyneth Paltrow does her best with the lead role of a girl from a trailer park who dreams of getting out into the big world, and finds her opportunity when the best selling memoir by a career flight attendant (Candice Bergen, the only breath of fresh air in the whole thing) inspires her to go for the same job. Beginning as a stewardess on a low-rent local airline (her first time flying is actually a very funny scene), she graduates to Royalty Airlines where she is trained in the mastery of her trade by Mike Myers and writes the test to qualify for her dream goal, working the first-class lounge on international flights. Unfortunately, she doesn’t do so well and is stuck on commuter flights out of Cleveland, but at least romance with a handsome lawyer (Mark Ruffalo) helps her pass the time waiting for her her airship to come in. When a twist of fate and the revelation of an injustice puts her career goals back on track, she must then decide between her ambition and her heart (because apparently movies haven’t changed since Doris Day). There’s more than a few chuckles here and there and cameos by George Kennedy and Rob Lowe perk the proceedings up, but the film is quite obviously recut from a different version that wasn’t working and has a mash-up of elements that don’t mix well, with Striptease-level satire in the character of Christina Applegate, Myers’ Austin Powers-style hijinks, sex exploitation in the form of gratuitous scenes of girls in bikinis, romantic comedy sincerity more familiar to the Paltrow oeuvre and then a strange musical number at the end. So many things feel like they come out of nowhere that the entire movie feels like a bad acid flashback. Initially slated for release in 2001, release was delayed by the events of 9/11 making a film lampooning flight attendants appear insensitive, and by the time it finally came out two years later (by which time it was likely tampered with quite a bit), it didn’t really stand a chance.