She may be beautiful, but time and again Paula Patton is proving she’s not an actress and Baggage Claim is no different. I’m quite confident I could pluck almost any 13-year-old off the street and they’d give just as amateur a performance as Patton does here as a woman desperate for a man to take as a date to her younger sister’s wedding. Yes, maybe that’s the intended tone, but wow what a bad decision.
Making matters worse is writer/director David E. Talbert‘s screenplay and directorial choices, including an early love scene that must have been inspired by Zack Snyder‘s slow-motion silliness in Watchmen as my audience howled at how ridiculous it was. Again, whether this was a laugh that was intended or not, it did the film no favors. The only thing Baggage Claim has going for it are a few decent one-liners from supporting cast members Adam Brody and Jill Scott and even then the watered down PG-13 rating seems to be holding everyone back.
Montana Moore (Patton) is always the bridesmaid and never the bride. Her mother (the reliably funny Jenifer Lewis), who’s been married five times, tends to rub this fact in her face as news arrives her younger sister (Lauren London) is about to be married, which means Montana is about to be made of honor for the ninth time in her life. With a recent romantic prospect turning up empty, Montana has 30 days to find a date for the wedding. At the suggestion of her fellow flight attendants, Gail (Scott) and Sam (Brody), she uses her airline connections to revisit past boyfriends looking for “Mr. Right Now”.
I’d say the film borrows heavily from 2011’s What’s Your Number? starring Anna Faris, but considering it’s based on Talbert’s 2005 book of the same name, it may be the other way around. Nevertheless, they are, for all intents and purposes, the same movie. Suffice to say, there are few surprises to be had.
The early introduction of Derek Luke as Montana’s next door neighbor pretty much establishes where the next 90 minutes will eventually lead, but even that story is confused by a girlfriend (Christina Milian) that we meet immediately, but doesn’t show her face again until the plot calls for her to intervene.
The film devolves into one scene after another of Montana running through airports, bumping into her exes, dinner montages and flights around the country. This is all mixed in with moments she shares with Luke’s character as the two have been the best of friends ever since they were kids and he even proposed to her in elementary school with a Cracker Jack ring and while she turned him down then, he promised he’d try again. Uh oh, could this be an attempt at foreshadowing? Did I just spoil one of the most obvious plot threads of the year?
Obviously this film isn’t meant to keep us on edge with tension, though it does have one of the most uncomfortable (and implausible) rehearsal dinner speeches you’ll likely ever hear, but instead keep you chuckling throughout. I guess, in those terms it’s relatively successful, but it’s still such a half-assed attempt at quality I can’t say I recommend it. Watching Patton attempt to act is almost painful to the point I start to feel sorry for her. Cut out the obligatory sex scenes and tone down the innuendo and I’d prefer to watch a PG version of this reenacted with kids playing dress up. I’m pretty sure the quality in acting wouldn’t be lessened and the amateur screenplay would be given the attention it deserves.