Baggage Claim (2013)

(Video on Demand, March 2014) There is absolutely nothing new in Baggage Claim, a good-natured but familiar romantic comedy in which a flight attendant frantically sets out to find a husband in thirty days by re-examining her past boyfriends. The conclusion is obvious barely thirty minutes in the film (to the point where the remaining plot elements either feel forced or obvious) and all that remains is enjoying the actors’ performances. Which, frankly, isn’t a bad thing: Paula Patton finally gets a good starring comic role (after what felt like a long series of supporting roles in action movies) and she plays the comedy as broadly as she can, with infectiously charming results. There is also a lot to like in the series of would-be suitors jostling for screen time, from Derek Luke’s boy-next-door charm to Taye Diggs’ power-broker strength to Djimon Hounsou’s effortless smoothness. (Seriously; is that guy even capable of being anything less than totally suave?) While the film’s romantic messages (“Be yourself”, etc.) and airport-set climax were old decades ago, this familiarity works at lowering expectations to the point where the film feels likable even despite having nothing new to say. Romantic Comedies have the built-in advantage of innocuous failure modes: even at their blandest, they’re more forgettable than actively irritating. So it is that Baggage Claim may have flaws, but it’s competently-executed enough to settle for mild entertainment. The actors get to show what they can do, no one will be offended by the results and I can name plenty of films that don’t even meet those two criteria.

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