Paula Patton seeks both independence and a man in ‘Baggage Claim’

Paula Patton (center) travels all over the country to meet exes in "Baggage Claim." Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures
Paula Patton (center) travels all over the country to meet exes in “Baggage Claim.”
Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

‘Baggage Claim’
Director: David E. Talbert
Stars: Paula Patton, Derek Luke
Rating: PG-13
2 (out of 5) Globes

Like madman mogul Tyler Perry, David E. Talbert became a phenomenon entirely under the radar of white audiences, helming more than a dozen blockbuster productions on the traveling urban theatre circuit before branching out into movies. But the similarities end there, as Talbert’s is a much saner, mainstream sensibility of more swag and less drag. “Baggage Claim,” which Talbert adapted for the screen from his own 2003 novel, dutifully assembles crowd-pleasing cliches and chick-lit tropes as if following instructions from an IKEA rom-com catalog.

Paula Patton stars as Montana Moore, a flight attendant rapidly advancing into her decrepit early thirties without yet having found a husband. This is no small concern to her mother (Jenifer Lewis), who claims you can’t call yourself a lady unless you’ve got a man. The impending nuptials of Montana’s kid sister provide an arbitrary ticking clock structure, with our heroine giving herself thirty days to settle down and live happily ever after.

The harebrained scheme that follows — aided and abetted by a de rigueur blowsy, oversexed sidekick (a very funny Jill Scott) and contractually obligated gay BFF (sassy Adam Brody) — involves Montana rearranging her work schedule so she’ll “accidentally” bump into her old ex-boyfriends on cross-country flights, checking to see if any of these frogs she’s kissed happen to have turned into princes over the ensuing years.

Of course this is a terrible plan, reminding Montana why she dumped all these dudes in the first place. There’s an amusing turn from Taye Diggs as a black Republican wired too tight, and an odd interlude with millionaire Djimon Hounsou that feels included simply to supply the genre’s required ration of lavish lifestyle porn. Each disastrous encounter inevitably ends with hunky next door neighbor William Wright (Derek Luke) riding in to Montana’s rescue time and again. If there’s any doubt as to where all this is headed, check out his last name.

A statuesque beauty though she may be, Paula Patton has always seemed slightly uncomfortable in her own skin, a sensation amplified here by Talbert’s wobbly direction and often bizarre scene transitions. Paying hypocritical lip service to progressive gender politics, “Baggage Claim” turns out to be one of those movies where the woman gets to deliver a big speech about how she doesn’t need a man in order to define herself, while Mr. Wright is waiting in the wings all the same.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
International

Jews in eastern Ukraine ordered to register, Kerry…

Secretary of State John Kerry condemned reports that Jews in eastern Ukraine had been ordered to register with the authorities "or suffer the consequences."

National

Chelsea Clinton pregnant with first child

Chelsea Clinton is pregnant with her first child.

National

Divers struggle in search for South Korean ferry…

By Jungmin Jang and Narae KimMOKPO/JINDO, South Korea (Reuters) - Rescuers struggled with strong waves and murky waters on Thursday as they searched for hundreds…

National

New Hampshire moves to decriminalize adultery

For the first time in hundreds of years, it's about to be legal to cheat on your spouse in New Hampshire.

Television

Dick Wolf to bring fictionalized world of 'Law…

A&E has ordered a pilot called "D.O.A." from "Law and Order" mastermind Dick Wolf that will focus on real detectives reexamining cold cases. A trio…

Movies

Review: 'Transcendence' is not stupid but sometimes lacks…

The cyberthriller "Transcendence" explores artificial intelligence, nanotechnology and other ethical quandaries, but has too much ambition, if anything.

Television

Shane West talks WGN America's 'Salem'

The actor on history lessons, a new network and showing his butt.

Music

Both feet on the ground with Aimee Mann…

What began with a cool double-bill of Ted Leo opening for Aimee Mann morphed into a full-fledged collaborative project that they're calling The Both. “There…

Sports

2014 Boston Marathon preview: Elite American, International runners…

2014 Boston Marathon: Elite American, International runners to watch

NBA

2014 NBA Finals odds: Ranking which playoff teams…

2014 NBA Finals odds: Ranking which playoff teams have the best shot at a championship. The Thunder, Clippers, Heat and Rockets lead the way.

NFL

2014 Patriots, full NFL schedule release date announced

2014 Patriots, full NFL schedule release date announced

NBA

Fantasy basketball: Finding next year's NBA studs

Before we put the 2013-14 fantasy basketball season to bed, it’s worth thinking about next year’s breakouts while they’re fresh in our mind.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.

Travel

Earth Day travel in the Florida Keys

See why this eco-friendly destination deserves your attention.

Tech

Sorry, Facebook — FarmVille goes mobile with 'Country…

Zynga has released a version of the hit "FarmVille" tailored for smartphones and tablets in the hope of reaping a bumper crop of players.