Review: Baggage Claim

With her latest film, Baggage Claim, Paula Patton has firmly entered into the Jennifer Lopez phase of her film career for better or worse.

Like Lopez, she’s breathtakingly gorgeous, but she’s also having the same struggles in finding quality material — particularly with romantic comedies.

baggage-claim-jill-scott-adam-brody-and-paula-pattonBaggage Claim isn’t a terrible movie — it’s mostly charming thanks to its likable cast — but it feels dated and strictly sticks to the established genre format, playing out like a dusted-off script Lopez had sitting on her shelf since the early 2000s.

That kind of makes sense considering Director/Screenwriter David E. Talbert (First Sunday) brings his 2003 novel Baggage Claim: A Novel
to the big screen. Unfortunately, he also brought along all of the warmed over, tired clichés from a decade ago such as the gay pal and the sex-starved best friend.

Facing even more pressure to jump the broom after her little sister’s (Lauren London) engagement, flight attendant Montana (Patton, 2 Guns) gets desperate in her quest to find the perfect man after her last candidate (Boris Kodjoe, Resident Evil: Retribution) ends up being less than ideal.

baggage-claim-jill-scott-as-stewardessMontana doesn’t want to end up like her sexpot friend Gail (Jill Scott showing a decidedly different side from her normal roles), who isn’t afraid to show off a lot of cleavage and treat men like playthings, and the endless badgering from her mother (Jenifer Lewis giving her now standard domineering matriarch performance) has grown so tiresome she can’t imagine showing up at the rehearsal dinner dateless.

So now Montana’s putting her buddy Sam’s (Adam Brody) plan in action and using her inside airline sources to get on flights with her exes including an aspiring senator (Taye Diggs), record producer (Trey Songz) and business mogul (Djimon Hounsou). After “accidentally” running into them, she figures they’ll rekindle sparks, fall in love and get engaged ASAP.

The plan won’t go smoothly since Talbert immediately kills any illusion of suspense the second he introduces us to Montana’s best friend/next-door-neighbor William (Derek Luke, Captain America: The First Avenger), who has always been that comforting shoulder and listening ear when she needs it most.

la_ca_0820_baggage_claimDistributor Fox Searchlight Pictures seeks to tap into the same market that made Think Like a Man such a monster hit last year even going as far as mimicking the poster featuring its large ensemble cast.

But while “TLAM” creatively adapted Steve Harvey’s 2009 Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, Expanded Edition: What Men Really Think About Love, Relationships, Intimacy, and Commitment, Baggage Claim is more similar to the little-seen 2011 rom-com What’s Your Number? (Ex-tended Edition) [Blu-ray/DVD Combo+Digital Copy] starring Anna Faris and Chris Evans. And while Number clearly seems to have been inspired by Talbert’s book — right down to the comforting ear/next-door-neighbor — it did have the advantage of getting to theaters first.

baggage claimWith little in the way of originality, it’s up to the cast to save the film. Fortunately, they’re up to the challenge and provide some big laughs. I’d have watched an entire movie with Brody and Scott, who steal every scene they’re in.

Patton is likable enough even if she’s not the most convincing at playing someone struggling to find viable romantic options, but her chemistry with Luke is solid and that’s all that’s needed here.

Thanks to its terribly predictable plot, there’s a little turbulence in Baggage Claim, but the cast is able to glide it in for a laugh-filled landing. You can only imagine how much better the film could have been had Talbert opted to spread his wings and bring a more unique voice to a familiar format.

Rating: 6 out of 10

Photo Credit: Tony Rivetti Jr./20th Century Fox

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