By Charles Hallman
Baggage Claim is a delightful but predictable movie that hit theaters September 27.
The David E. Talbert movie is like one of lighthearted screwball fare that I can sit and watch on Turner Classic Movies all day long. However it probably won’t make the channel’s line-up simply because of its mostly Black cast, which in itself destines the film for a future small-screen premiere on BET, TV One or Bounce TV.
The cast, or for that matter the movie itself, isn’t on the same scale as the classic Uptown Saturday Night (1974) that boasts an all-star Black cast of legends, but Paula Patton headlines a notable cast nonetheless.
Aaron Park, of Brooklyn Park, calls Baggage Claim “a nice refreshing movie” after seeing it at the September 23 special preview that the MSR — among others — co-sponsored. “It kept you laughing overall.”
Patton plays Montana Moore, who’s determined to get engaged before her youngest sister gets married in a month. She’s the oldest in her family who hasn’t walked down the aisle as a bride. Her “beautiful woman but can’t find Mr. Right” portrayal is cut from the same cloth that propelled White actresses such as Sandra Bullock and Kate Hudson into multiple big bucks roles. Can Patton cash in on this as well?
“I like Paula Patton and the different [actors and actresses] in the movie,” admitted Ashley Ligon of Minneapolis.
As in 2011’s Jumping the Broom — in which she starred — Patton plays a similar character in this romantic comedy. In Baggage Claim she plays a vulnerable thirty-something single flight attendant who also provided narration as she guides us through her latest chapter of flying solo. She and her two closest colleagues, Jill Scott (Gail) and Adam Brody (Sam), spend their downtime either bemoaning life or bragging about it in some form or fashion.
Scott’s overall performance essentially was a crime — she stole every scene she appeared in — her no-holds-barred character was a complete opposite of her portrayal of an overweight, neglected wife in Why Did I Get Married (2007), and gave some of the funniest lines in Baggage Claim.
Brody’s character concocted a harebrained scheme to get Patton hooked up with a former suitor in time to attend her sister’s wedding. The back-and-forth tête-à-tête between Scott, Patton’s BFF, and Brody, who dutifully played her male BFF, gave the movie its intended comic relief as the two characters fought all movie long for Patton’s full attention, which provided Baggage Claim its intended comic relief. They and their fellow flight attendants and other airport personnel pitched in whenever texted to support their compatriot.
I’ve seen several Talbert productions either on UP (formerly GMC) and BET. His work too much has been overshadowed or unfairly compared to Tyler Perry, especially since both of them go after the same urban audience. Like Perry, Talbert also writes, produce and directs his work — he’s done 13 stage plays in 20 years. But also unlike Perry, the latter doesn’t find it necessary to inject himself on-screen as an overbearing character, preferring instead to let his hired actors do all the heavy lifting.
First Sunday (2008) was Talbert’s first full-length movie that he wrote and directed and was mildly funny. His second, Baggage Claim, which he wrote, directed, as well as produced, is a much better effort, however.
Back to Patton — who appears very comfortable in being somewhat believable and comedic at the same time — she’s desperate but not pathetic. She and Derek Luke, whose characters have been friends since early childhood “had a very good chemistry. It was obvious from the start,” noted Sarah Healy of Minneapolis.
Baggage Claim is rated PG-13, but it’s a soft rating mainly because of some sexual innuendos occasionally thrown out there; but the dialogue lacked the usual unnecessary profanity, which kept the film a pleasant experience. However, the film did have a predictable climax.
“I knew what was going to happen,” adds Ligon. Sadly, I did too.
The pre-release promos drew Park, Ligon and Healy to the movie’s sneak preview: each afterwards told the MSR that they were not disappointed.
Thanks to Talbert’s deft directing, Baggage Claim reached its final destination with little turbulence throughout its comedic flight. It’s the type of movie, especially with a Black cast, that proves that it can be funny without being obnoxious, and that should be available on the big screen more than once a year.
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org