Baggage Claim (2013)
★★★ / ★★★★
The premise of “Baggage Claim,” written and directed by David E. Talbert, sounds so ridiculous and so contrived that it cannot possibly happen to anybody but, I must admit, enjoyed it anyway because I felt the actors having fun in their roles. Since there is a consistent level of joy to their performances, I was interested in what would happen next even though I suspected it would too willingly traverse a familiar path.
Montana (Paula Patton) is a flight attendant who has been a bridesmaid nine times. Since she is not getting any younger, she wants to get married. And soon. Her sister has just gotten engaged. A co-worker, Sam (Adam Brody), has an idea: instead of looking for new men, why not reconsider exes? After all, people can change. It is the holidays which means travel season. All Sam and Gail (Jill Scott) have to do is to find out when and where these exes are traveling to and from. It is up to Montana to show up.
Patton is astonishingly beautiful and extremely likable so not for one second did I believe that her character is having any trouble getting a boyfriend to propose to her. However, the actor made me believe that Montana is desperate, imperfect, and blind to what is right front of her. She is inside her head to much, the kind of person who loses track of the big picture. We all know that she will realize eventually that the perfect guy is right there all along. So what is the picture’s source of entertainment?
The answer is in the supporting characters. Gail, the protagonist’s the big-bosomed friend, is played to perfect comic timing by Scott. In every scene she is in, my eyes go directly to her, always anticipating what she might say next. That is a feat considering that Patton has a strong presence even when she just stands there. Sam, Montana’s the gay co-worker, is given very funny moments as well. His personality is less brash than Gail but the timing and the delivery of his sarcasm as well as the attitude is there. Though Gail and Sam have opposite personalities, we can understand why they get along and why they are friends with Montana. A lot of romantic comedies do not quite get the chemistry among friendships right.
Some of Montana’s prospects are complete caricatures (Taye Diggs, Trey Songz) but a man named Quinton (Djimon Hounsou) is worthy of being explored more. Hounsou plays Quinton with a quiet confidence and grace. They appear to be perfect for each other. But there is a catch. There is always a catch. And that’s life… even though what he offers Montana is a fantasy.
I wished the film had enough creativity to not end with yet another chase that involves catching a person prior to a plane taking off. Since the material is composed of familiar ground, the writer-director needed to do something more surprising to make the work stand out, perhaps acknowledging that though plot is predictable, it is still capable of getting the last laugh by offering originality during its closing scenes.