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The Independent Critic

STARRING
Paula Patton, Derek Luke, Adam Brody, Christina Milian, Jill Scott, Djimon Hounsou, Taye Diggs, Trey Songz
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY
David E. Talbert
MPAA RATING
Rated PG-13
RUNNING TIME
96 Mins.
DISTRIBUTED BY
Fox Searchlight
 

 "Baggage Claim" Skips Realism for Easy Laughs 
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There's really only one strong reason to recommend writer/director David E. Talbert's latest film Baggage Claim - Paula Patton. A consummate actress who refuses to to be dragged down by yet the latest in a long line of irritating rom-com characters. Patton plays Montana, a single flight attendant who starts to panic when her younger sister announces that she's getting married. Montana is panicked at the thought of attending the wedding without a date, so what does she do? She takes the almost psychotic advice of her friends and figures out when all of her ex-boyfriends will be traveling and arranges it so that she'll be on their flight. 

Sigh. 

Really? 

Talbert's First Sunday was a flawed but funny film with enough cultural insight and nuance that you gave into it despite being fully aware that it wasn't exactly brilliant cinema. With Baggage Claim, we're being forced to abandon any concept of reality in favor of whatever laughs Talbert can mine from this offbeat material. 

Admittedly, there are laughs to be found in Baggage Claim but they most definitely come at the expense of anything resembling reality. 

So, let's get this straight. We have an insecure older sister whose family is going to be so hateful and judgmental that she can't show up at her sister's wedding without a date? Then, we're supposed to buy into the idea that the only way she can get said date is to construct a ludicrous scenario where she reconsiders all the men she's already broken up with who also, it just so happens, seem to travel by air on a regular basis? Finally, we're supposed accept that everyone around her embraces the idea that she's going to violate corporate ethics in the name of her love life by actually tracking down these men through airline records and arranging to be on their flights?

Um, okay. 

To their credit, just about everyone in this case redeems themselves despite the impossible storylines. Montana's exes include a sweet jetsetter (Djimon Hounsou), a "smoke and mirrors" music exec (Trey Songz), and a politician with control issues (Taye Diggs). Of course, there's real potential to be found in an old high school sweetheart (Derek Luke). 

Montana's pals may not be that realistic, but they are fun. Adam Brody and Jill Scott have terrific comic timing and manage to make the most of their characters. 

In all likelihood, Baggage Claim will find the same audience that did Talbert's First Sunday and, to be honest, the film likely has an even more widestream appeal than did First Sunday. To completely dismiss the film is ludicrous, because Talbert's clearly going for the entertainment factor here and in that goal he for the most part succeeds. While it's easy to pick Baggage Claim apart, sometimes simply being entertained is enough and for pure entertainment value the film mostly works. 

© Written by Richard Propes 
The Independent Critic 

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