Here’s the plot: Feeling a certain amount of pressure from her over-bearing and annoyingly wedding–obsessed mother, flight attendant Montana Moore (Paula Patton) gives herself thirty days and thirty thousand miles to find a husband before her youngest sister marries. And there you have it.
“Marriage has always been a big deal to my mother,” Patton’s character tells us in a voice-over, even though the idea of saying ‘I do’ is obviously one that obsesses more than just her mom. “I don’t want to end up in a house-full of cats,” Montana states, then adds as an after-thought, “Smelling like soup.”
Baggage Claim, as the sit-com title suggests, is a light-weight comedy written and directed by David E. Talbert where all the characters talk of one thing – getting married. Whatever is going on around them has no meaning other than the idea of Montana finding of the right man and settling down, or just simply finding the right man. Everything that happens after the marriage will have to wait its turn.
With a backdrop of Christmas that, at the very least, makes the setting in major cities around the country look pretty at night, Montana flies all over the place from Thanksgiving to Christmas in the hope of bumping into Mr. Right but never finding him. “Maybe the perfect guy just doesn’t exist,” she tells herself.
The point is, from the beginning it’s obvious who will be her suitor, but this is one of those comedies where no one on the screen appears to see it, no matter how obvious the outcome is to the rest of us. As game as Paula Patton is running around from airport to airport, dragging her bags with her in order to ‘accidentally’ bump into Mr. Right, the humor in every scene becomes labored with an outcome everyone will see long before the next plane lands. It’s that kind of comedy. Plus, it’s amazing how every character – and I mean every character – has the same expensive cell phone in their possession which they will use in close-up at every opportunity.
In its favor, the film is eye candy. Befitting a comedy of this kind, the widescreen cinematography has a continual bright and glossy look for the day scenes and an appropriate holiday seasonal look at night as pretty Christmas lights bedeck every major city in which Patton’s character lands. This is not a Christmas themed film, in fact I’m not sure I ever heard the word Christmas mentioned once, even though all the characters are surrounded by it, but at least by having the setting during the holiday period the film has a kind of built in fairy tale look to its romantic base.
Unless you’re the kind that finds yourself amused at the obvious, real laughs are scarce, though now and again you may hear the occasional nugget of relatable truth buried in the dialog. The airport security man giddy with his power over the embarking passengers declares, “I have no life, which gives me all day to ruin yours.” And when a self-obsessed young senator proposes marriage to Montana she not only turns him down she states that she wouldn’t even vote for him. “I don’t trust black Republicans,” she adds. If only the rest of the film had that same satirical bite.
Despite Patton’s likable presence, the end result is ho-hum at best. And let’s be honest, would someone with Paula Patton’s handsome good looks and winning personality really have this much trouble finding a man? I don’t think so. As one of her friends states near the end of the film, “I’m glad that’s over. Now I can get back to my life.” Another moment of relatable truth, indeed.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 Length: 96 Minutes Overall Rating: 3 (out of 10)