Like almost every other utterly formulaic romantic comedy that seems to be produced these days, Baggage Claim is about a woman, Montana Moore (Paula Patton), who has everything she needs in life, except a husband. So before her younger sister gets married and she has to brave yet another wedding where she is not only a bridesmaid, but single (gasp!), she sets out in search of a date to the wedding and, if she’s lucky, a husband.
All the archetypal plot points are hit throughout this movie. Montana is a down to earth, normal person with a strong support network. She has a wedding obsessed mother who is trying to marry her off to the most convenient suitor, a feisty best friend Sheree (Lauren London) who is almost irrelevant except for a few laughs, and a gay best friend Sam (Adam Brody) who says what everyone else is thinking in the sassiest way possible. With our usual stock characters in check, Baggage Claim gives way to the clichéd slapstick chasing of men, an obvious love interest who appears in the first five minutes, and so many emotional speeches that it almost became painful by the end. It’s simple and kind of boring, so you will just get exactly what expected and absolutely nothing more.
Let me preface my review by saying that I do not like Paula Patton as an actress. I feel like she’s trying way too hard to be likable and it just produces the opposite effect. So just take this review with a grain of salt, if you like. But also trust that I have seen A LOT of cheesy romantic comedies in my day (and enjoyed them), but this one left a very trite taste in my mouth. Yes, the whole cast is stunningly gorgeous and nice to look at (enter the PG sex scene where there is a slow-motion montage of Boris Kodjo’s abs—so random and so nice), but does that make up for a plot that reinforces every terrible rom-com stereotype where the woman is gorgeous yet clumsy and insecure? Almost, but no.
I felt like I was watching an old movie where being a successful, single 30-year-old was the same thing as being a spinster and seeing your younger (still in college!) sister getting married was the final nail in the old hag coffin. Not to mention the fact that the plot was almost exactly 2011’s What’s Your Number?, except way more whiny and way more about marriage equaling your only chance of happiness. Can we talk about the fact that Montana is trying to get engaged in a month just so she can bring someone to a rehearsal dinner? All the hot men and the adorkable Adam Brody/Seth Cohen (yup, bringing back adorkable, just when you thought you’d escaped it) can’t make up for that extremely tired storyline. I understand that it’s a romantic comedy and improbability is a necessary evil, but even going in with that expectation didn’t excuse how utterly contrived every situation felt.
But don’t let my bitchiness about this movie completely fool you. I totally laughed during certain parts and I generally really like romantic comedies, no matter how utterly improbable they are (note the What’s Your Number? reference above). And although sometimes this laughter was more about the hilariously sad things Baggage Claim was saying about the modern state of dating (e.g. the regrettable RomCom trope that your life sucks until you open your eyes and realize that true love has been right across the hall the whole time), some bits really had some funny stuff in there. The sassy sex-obsessed best friend, Sheeree, was a total highlight. Too bad that she was the only self-assured female presence in the film and she was kind of a running joke like, “Ha ha. Oh Sheree, you and your unashamed love of sex with men. You should be ashamed of yourself!” Also, basically any scene with her and Seth Cohen—I’m sorry, again, Adam Brody—in it was a rare and necessary high point.
This movie would have done so much better if it were to focus on the dynamic of the three best friends, more of a buddy romantic comedy where Montana, Sheree, and Seth Cohen try to navigate the dating world in a fun way rather than all three of them desperately seeking out love in the past failed relationships of Montana. Maybe it’s just me, but I really don’t enjoy watching women act like idiots when getting a happily-ever-after is their only purpose in life.
Unless it’s a Disney Princess movie.