“The magic isn’t in getting married, it’s in staying married.”
Not exactly the Mile High Club, but still just as bizarre in practice is Baggage Claim. Montana Moore (Paula Patton) is a thirty-something year-old flight attendant who is tired of being alone and husband-less. Her mother has tied the knot many times, and even her younger college-aged sister will be doing so before her. She has no problems in dating men, but nothing ever sticks, and it seems like the only man who truly knows her is longtime childhood friend William Wright (Derek Luke).
Vowing to be engaged by the time of her sister’s wedding rehearsal dinner, Montana and co-worker friends Gail (Jill Scott) and Sam (Adam Brody) hatch out a plan that will place Montana on the flights of numerous ex-boyfriends, all in an effort to see if one of them is Mr. Right. Thirty days, 30,000 miles. Finding love must truly be in the air.
Looking for a positive with Baggage Claim? Everyone has really, really white teeth that could blind even Helios. Otherwise, Baggage Claim is a movie that has been done before, but undoubtedly in better ways. Sure it is occasionally amusing in parts, but really, it is just on airplane mode throughout, providing the same narration, staples, and characters that are common to the genre.
Yours truly hates picking on premises for their believability, as the very act of watching a movie forces an audience to suspend disbelief at least a little, but this one pushes the limits. Finding a fiance amid a throng of failed exes is one “highly unlikely, but alright I can roll with this I guess” sort of acceptance (What’s Your Number did this mostly already), but doing this in 30 days on numerous flights is a little too much to buy into. Even with the odd setup, the ending is of no surprise, seen easily by the time the first third of the movie ends. The rest just serves as filler, a futile attempt to inject some uncertainty from the journey from point A to B.
But perhaps the real kicker is seeing Montana, played by Paula Patton, struggling so much with finding a man with her amazing beauty. This does happen a lot in romantic comedies with the actress being too gorgeous to imagine her struggling with finding a partner, but one cannot help but wonder here that with a more plain-looking woman, maybe the premise could be bought into easier. Paula Patton isn’t plain looking in the slightest. Robin Thicke, what were you thinking man?
A predictable plot can be overlooked with solid laughs, which Baggage Claim does not possess much of. Only Jenifer Lewis (mother of Patton’s character) and Taye Diggs have solid experience in comedy, and while the former is nothing to write home about, the latter’s appearance is probably the funniest thing of the entire film. Patton is certainly a pleasure to look at, but as the focal point, she struggles both comically and dramatically . She can’t be knocked for a lack of trying, but little of it comes natural.
Being a leading lady might not be in her cards. Acting probably shouldn’t be in the cards of Christina Milian and Trey Songz either, adding to the list of most singers/rappers/musicians who appear to lack the skills to hit the desired notes on the silver screen. Jill Scott, also a singer, isn’t as terrible and makes an average tandem with Adam Brody, but their character are familiar templates seen way too often before (sex-crazed woman best friend, gay male best friend). They wear thin quickly.
About the only people who are solid in this from a traditional drama standpoint are Dijmon Hounsou (in a limited role) and Derek Luke. And with that said, it is kind of sad that they are even in this for yours truly, because both can and should be doing so much bigger projects in Hollywood. It seems like just yesterday both were turning in amazing work in Blood Diamond and Antwone Fisher, respectively.
Largely unfunny and feeling longer than it is, Baggage Claim is just another routine romantic comedy missing a lot of the comedy part. Expect a lot of turbulence with this viewing.
Photo credits go to rottentomatoes.com, blackfilm.com, and vibevixen.com.
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