Rating: PG-13 (sexual content and some language)
Length: 96 minutes
Release Date: Sept. 27, 2013
Directed by: David E. Talbert
Stars: 3 out of 5
“Baggage Claim” is a romantic comedy that has everything lovers of the genre are looking for. Even though the characters in this film are nothing new, each actor brings something special and unique the movie to help it stand out from the crowd. Everyone who watches “Baggage Claim” will be rooting for Montana Moore to find her true love before time is up, and they’ll be laughing every step of the way.
Based on the novel of the same name, “Baggage Claim” follows a month in the life of Montana Moore, played by Paula Patton. This isn’t just an average month in her life, however. After hearing the news that her younger sister is engaged, Montana vows to herself that she will not be the only woman in her family to not be married. This means she has thirty days to find Mr. Right and get engaged before her sister’s big day. Relying on her friends for support, Montana heeds the advice of Sam, played by Adam Brody, who suggests that she “accidentally” bump into a few ex-boyfriends to see if she can rekindle the spark. This is where the wacky adventure begins.
Montana sets out to stalk her ex-boyfriends to see if any of them has morphed into husband material, or at least a date for the wedding. As flight attendants, Montana and her friends Sam and Gail wrangle a bunch of airport employees into helping them find her exes during their frequent travels. With only thirty days to find the man of her dreams, Montana zig-zags across the country on airplane after airplane to get a second look at her past lovers. Along the way, the audience glimpses Taye Diggs as the pompous Langston Jefferson Battle III, rapper Trey Songz as a ridiculous wannabe music mogul, and Djimon Housou as suave hotelier Quinton Jamison.
In her role as Montana Moore, Patton is a natural for physical comedy. She has a goofy sweetness about her that some find lackluster and others find charming. The film doesn’t divulge much about who Montana is as a person, but does the audience really need to know? This comedy is all about finding true love and the crazy things people will do to find it. It’s not a deep emotional drama.
Montana’s urgency to be married is spawned by her mother, played by Jenifer Lewis, who has been married five times. She is mortified that Montana is almost thirty years old and doesn’t have a significant other. She’s always comparing Montana to herself, and she now compares Montana to her younger sister, who is soon to be wed. Montana doesn’t want to disappoint her mother or endure her taunts for years to come.
Montana’s long-time male friend, William Wright, has always been there for her. He proposed to her in elementary school with a ring from a Cracker Jack box. Now he lives right across the hall from her and is always there to console her with fancy food and drinks, but she’s oblivious to his love for her. Played by Derek Luke, Mr. Wright is Mr. Right, if Montana could only see it. All her travels to meet her exes are just a distraction from the guy who is best for her.
“Baggage Claim” is full of shenanigans and screwball synchronicity. As each ex-boyfriend steps onto the scene, director David E. Talbert squeezes in a few laughs at his expense. A master of the stage, Talbert directs the actors to make good use of facial expressions and body language, which can sometimes seem over the top. It’s also clear that Talbert studied up on the ways romantic comedies succeed, but instead of creating a fresh perspective, he repeats many of the same old clichés. For example, when Montana asks out loud to no one in particular if things could get any worse, it starts pouring rain. However, these are all well-loved, relatable clichés.
Talbert is a jack-of-all-trades, with playwriting, filmmaking, and writing all on his resume. He has been nominated for twenty-four NAACP awards and won a Best Playwright of the Year and the prestigious NAACP Trailblazer award. Since he wrote the book, he was the best person to direct “Baggage Claim.” For this movie, he paired up his knowledge of filmmaking and his passion for visual entertainment to create a feel-good movie that will have you laughing out loud.