'Baggage Claim': Too much luggage to move beyond
Paula Patton fizzes and flounces through “Baggage Claim,” a romantic comedy about a flight attendant who gives herself “30 days and 30 thousand miles” to find some man to “put a ring on it” before her sister’s wedding.
No gesture is too big, no half-hearted punchline too weak to sell with some wideeyed bit of mugging from the star of “Jumping the Broom.” An actress who showed blessed restraint in films such as “Precious” practically gives herself a hernia trying to freshen this “Haven’t I seen this before?” exercise.
Patton plays Montana, doomed to make poor choices in men, so upset when her younger sister (Lauren London) announces her engagement that she resolves to have a wedable date for that sister’s nuptials. So Montana’s obligatory gay flight attendant pal (Adam Brody) and curvaceous, oversexed flight attendant BFF (Jill Scott) use their professional connections to hurl Montana in the path of her most promising (and successful) exes by tracking their every airline ticket.
With the help of ticket sales clerks, baggage handlers and a hilarious TSA security screener (Affion Crockett), Montana makes flight after flight, reconnecting with music producer Damon (Trey Songz), aspiring politician Langston (Taye Diggs), international businessman Quinton (Djimon Hounsou) and others.
All the while, she’s not quite grasping that the fellow she grew up with and now lives right across the hall from (Derek Luke) is her Forever Man.
The mechanics of getting Montana on the flights is the quickest and funniest part of the movie, with all the conferencecall plotting with her pals and the tricks her airport screener friend Cedric (Crockett) plays to get her through line quickly, or stall others who need to be held up.
Writer-director David E. Talbert, in adapting his own book, feels free to put Patton in the same guise — playing 10 years below her age, needy and marriage-obsessed — that she wore in “Jumping the Broom.” Scene after scene had me scratching my head, wondering if I’d seen this movie before. I have. Talbert borrows freely and often in concocting this thinly amusing bit of recycling.
The supporting players score the occasional laugh, but hiring the tiresome Jenifer Lewis to play another brassy mom and making the rest of the cast play cliches and “types” give this romantic comedy too much baggage to overcome.
Rated PG-13 for sexual content and some language.
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