Love is in the air, about thirty thousand feet to be exact, so you can excuse director David E. Talbert’s lightheaded, but very funny rom-com “Baggage Claim.”
Paula Patton breaks out from being the sidekick in films such as “Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol” to headlining her own vehicle and nearly hijacking one. She’s Montana Moore, a flight attendant and perpetual bridesmaid particularly to her mother Catherine (Jennifer Lewis), who has walked down the aisle five times. Not only does Catherine go through more white rice than Panda Express, but she beats it into her daughters that they’re not truly women without that ring on their finger.
When Montana’s youngest sister Sheree (Lauren London) announces her upcoming nuptials, she’s determined to do whatever it takes to be someone’s significant other in the 30 days till the wedding. Yes, that’s what desperation looks like in 2013. Her friends, busty oversexed Gail (Jill Scott) and rationally gay Sam (Adam Brody) cook up a scheme to have her hookup with any of her exes that fly on their airline, even at the risk of losing their jobs and committing federal crimes.
And you thought the NSA was sneaky.
Of course, her best friend, William Wright (Derek Luke), lives right down the hall from her. If you think living across from a Mr. Right…uh Wright doesn’t give away the ending, then you’re asking way too much from this film. He’s a hardworking guy with Montana’s best interest at heart and a Cracker Jacks endorsement coming. Montana rushes past security and any semblance of self-esteem giving past dating leftovers a second chance from the would-be record producer Damon Diesel(Trey Songz) to the ambitious politician, Langston Jefferson Battle III, who seemingly is running on the Misogynist ticket (Taye Diggs). There’s also Quinton Jamison with a special proposal of his own for our perky Montana.
“Baggage Claim” is based on a novel that Talbert wrote, and it looks like it was never updated for a 2013 audience or even a 2000 one. Montana’s breathy character wistfully speaks of longing for a guy just for her. It’s as though she’s never looked in a mirror. It’s not Talbert’s first time in the director’s chair and he should be commended for nearly getting maximum laughs out of a very capable cast, but Montana feels like a caricature of a 80’s rom-com heroine. Patton deserves better than that as she’s proven herself as more than just a pretty face, even in this film.
So, what saves this film?
It’s funny. Yes, there’s a rom-com where the com stands for something besides “completely unwatchable.” Jennifer Lewis shines as Montana’s overbearing mother who insists on getting the last word. Brody reminds us of the charm and nearly accidental humor he showed in the O.C and all of Patton’s paramours hilariously remind us why old loves should be left in the past. Jill Scott delivers one of the best lines in “You might want to come over here, I think the King of Zamunda has come to visit!” The story is predictable, the main character may be left in a time warp, but “Baggage Claim” is still funny enough to overcome it’s onscreen turbulence.