'Baggage Claim' uses old pitch, but remains likable

The Fresno BeeSeptember 25, 2013 

Taye Diggs and Paula Patton in "Baggage " Claim."

FOX SEARCHLIGHT

"Baggage Claim" is a harmless romantic comedy that follows a familiar theme: a young woman just can't seem to find the right man. She sets out to find that true love while remaining oblivious to how the man of her dreams has always been in her life. If you can't spot this guy, you've never seen a Lifetime or Hallmark movie.

It's the kind of movie Katherine Heigl would have made, had her career not gone into a tailspin.

The woman in question is flight attendant Montana Moore (Paula Patton), a perpetual bridesmaid who finally sets a 30-day timetable to find a husband. Her friends at the airline suggest she take another look at boyfriends. When one of her old flames books a flight, she will make sure to be there to "accidentally" bump into them.

It doesn't take too many flights before it becomes painfully obvious there was a reason she dumped the guys the first time around.

This kind of movie depends on how much the audience is rooting for the woman to find a man. That's easy in "Baggage Claim" because Patton is so likable.

But the problem is that, just like in "27 Dresses," the Heigl movie with a similar theme, it's extremely difficult to believe someone like Patton would ever have a problem finding Mr. Right.

Because the script by director/writer David E. Talbert starts with a shaky premise, the journey has to be even more interesting. There are a few funny romantic moments, such as Taye Diggs playing a man with control issues and Trey Songz as a musician who's more hype than hip.

This journey through romance misery is stitched together by Montana running through airports, down streets and in hotels. The funniest parts of her journeys are the airport employees, particularly Affion Crockett as a zealous security guard. The entire film should have been set at the airport to give the supporting players more time.

"Baggage Claim" drifts from sitcom humor to three-tissue drama. Both could have used a little more grounding.

It would be easy to dismiss "Baggage Claim" for its retreaded theme, uneven script and forced acting efforts. Just like a blind date, you have to look past the flaws to find the heart. There's also a film-saving performance by Derek Luke as the guy next door.

There's no way you will fall in love with "Baggage Claim," but there's a good chance you'll like it.

Movie review

"Baggage Claim," rated PG-13 for sexual content, language. Stars Paula Patton, Taye Diggs, Derek Luke, Djimon Hounsou, Trey Songz. Directed by David Talbert. Running time: 96 minutes. Grade: B-

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TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355, rbentley@fresnobee.com or @RickBentley1 on Twitter.

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