Whether moviegoers will understand the title, “Baggage Claim,” they will certainly get the story. Writer and director David E. Talbert has made a motion picture that would have been familiar seeming as far back as the age when films were routinely called “motion pictures.”
But it would be too easy to dismiss this routine romantic comedy as old hat. Its story isn’t new and the movie isn’t ever comic. It is, however, good-natured, quick, bright, and anxious to give actors we are used to seeing in minor parts chances to do a little more.
Take for example its star. Paula Patton. She’s a film veteran, raised in a house across the street from the Twentieth Century Fox studios, who we know from “Hitch,” “Precious,” “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol,” the recent Denzel Washington movie “Two Guns,” and “Swing Vote.” Up until now one might say her ideal part would be television newscaster.
In “Baggage Claim,” Patton plays a Baltimore girl named “Montana”—honest. She is a single woman, a flight attendant nearing the age of thirty, at which point she expects her marriage appeal will turn into a pumpkin.
Her mother is a pushy woman who has been married five times. Her sister, a college sophomore, will be married in thirty days. So “Montana’s” work colleagues decide they are going to help her to reconnect with one of her old beaus, hoping the spinster will at least get a decent date for the wedding.
Her comedy-foil fellow stewards—one a bulky flirt and the other a weedy homosexual—arrange for ticket agents, a wacky security screener, and other airline employees to be on the lookout for men with the names from “Montana’s” little black book. When one of these guys flies, the airline cabal arranges for our heroine to fly into the man’s departure airport and then for her to fly out in the seat next to his.
So “Montana” has six or eight mad dashes in the film, rushing across town to an airport to make it to a connecting flight. Sometimes she is transported on land in the vintage pick-up truck of her neighbor and childhood pal William (Derek Luke). He’s dating her cousin (Christina Milian), but then on one flight our three musketeers of the Boeing galley see the cousin playing kissy face with an Italian.
“Montana” figures out why she is no longer dating the old beaus. One (Taye Diggs) thinks women should follow orders. One no longer likes girls. One is a cheater with a pregnant significant other. And so on. One is a wealthy fellow (Djimon Hounsou) who is ready with a proposition, but is unlikely ever to propose.
Actually the thing they all have in common is that they are rich. “Baggage Claim” is very much about men who are rich marriage prospects. And what does “Montana” have against William as a marital option? He drives an old truck. He is a small timer. Will she see his true value before it is too late? What do you think?
Most moviegoers won’t have to think too hard to know what’s going to happen next most of the time as “Baggage Claim” rolls. But, then, maybe they won’t care all that much that the film is predictable. There is a sort of ritual fun in movies like this.
For a better version, a more intelligent version of the story, take a look at Queen Latifa and L.L. Cool J in the remake of “Last Holiday.” Or heck, see the original “Last Holiday,” written by J.B. Priestley and starring Alec “Obi-Wan Kenobe” Guiness.