Film Review: Baggage Claim

Ridiculous, strained rom-com about a stewardess'—er, flight attendant’s—desperate search for love.

Although she is beautiful, smart and charming, TransAlliance flight attendant Montana (Paula Patton) somehow has no man of her own, to the utter horror of her much-married mother (Jenifer Lewis). Having to again humiliatingly serve as bridesmaid—to her little sister (Lauren London), no less—Montana determines to do something about her single state. With the aid of her co-workers, ultra-gay Sam (Adam Brody) and ultra-bodacious Gail (Jill Scott), as well as seemingly the entire airport staff, she tracks down the flight times and destinations of the many exes in her life and, figuring second time could be lucky, plans to be on the same plane as they are.

Screw federal regulations and security breaches, this lady has some serious business to do! This beyond-silly idea for a rom-com that is neither very romantic nor funny has sprung from the mind of writer-director David E. Talbert, whose many plays have titles like Mr. Right Now, His Women His Wife, What My Husband Doesn't Know, Love on Layaway, Love in the Nick of Tyme and He Say, She Say But What Does God Say? Their obviousness should give you some idea of the man's style, and Baggage Claim is indeed obvious, as well as forced and super-predictable. For instance, from their very first scene, you just know that Montana and her neighbor/best platonic pal since childhood, William (Derek Luke), himself saddled with an undeserving beeyotch of a girlfriend (Christina Milian), are unknowingly made for each other, and that you will have to endure an entire tiresome movie for them to realize it. In the meantime, you get to "enjoy" her encounters with all her past men, from an obnoxious politician (Taye Diggs) with an annoying little dog to various nasty players and gigolo horn-dogs. There's one almost-Prince Charming in the form of the supposedly always irresistible Djimon Hounsou, a suave hotel magnate who showers Montana with promises of a luxe life in the world's glamour capitols and a glittering tennis bracelet (which makes Gail wet), but no wedding band. Watching this, all I could think was "I guess all black people only use this one airline."

Patton tries hard to be as adorable as Ginger Rogers once was in her 1930s/early ’40s variants of this girl-seeking-love formula before it curdled, post Oscar-win. Too hard. You just cannot buy that this total babe would ever be such a romantic loser, even if her rouge is way too heavily applied, something the harsh, unflattering photography of this cheap-looking production glaringly exposes. More fun are Scott and Brody—even with their thin material, eternally bitching at each other—although I wish she had been given a chance to stop this tired show cold with a sexy, warm song, and he hadn't been done up as a replicant of Michael Urie on “Ugly Betty,” bow tie and all. And Lord, how weary Jenifer Lewis must be of always being cast as a dominating yet juicy mama with nothing but sassy attitude to flaunt. (She was brilliant last year in a satirical, profane New York cabaret act, and still manages to elicit a laugh here by just saying "Uh huh.")

As the end credits finally rolled, the best review was uttered by a woman in the row behind me: "This is the kind of movie they'll show on Starz in a couple months and you'll watch when you're really bored."