If you think too much about Baggage Claim, which oversimplifies to the point of vacuousness, you’ll be less likely to appreciate its good humor. Anyone rich, white and male is stereotyped as usual, unfortunately, and one character played by Taye Diggs (Rent) puts a damper on this otherwise charming and affectionate romantic comedy.
Paula Patton plays beautiful stewardess Montana, whose overbearing mother (Jenifer Lewis) goes through men like underwear. Montana hasn’t had much success with men. When her younger sister announces she’s getting married, Montana panics. Her best friend, played by Derek Luke, has problems of his own with his girlfriend and he tries to help but Montana is soon off on a flight and being influenced by her co-workers, an angel of a gay man and a devil of a well-endowed woman, who give Montana all kinds of advice including a scheme to tap a network of airport and airline workers so Montana can speed-date a string of ex-boyfriends to snag a man for her sister’s wedding.
As Montana, Patton’s perfect, a veritable black Barbie doll in flight attendant makeup – false eyelashes as long as her mother’s – and the intellectual depth to match. Her taste in men appears to be conventional, and Montana is easily impressed. She’s most herself with her guy pal, of course, and anyone can see what’s likely to happen. When she’s bed-hopping and jet-setting with today’s most eligible black bachelors – her lone white ex has same-sex feelings – from Diggs’ lying politician to muscled pop stars and African adventurers, Montana is frankly just not that interesting and she comes off as a bit of a golddigger. Add to that her deception and willingness to abuse private company records and she’s not too sweet or innocent.
But snappy lines that feed situational comedy and Adam Brody’s gay best friend Sam – who fuels Baggage Claim‘s romanticism, with smoky songs and lush city skylines at sunrise, from Baltimore to Los Angeles, anchor the madcap, fairy tale plot in a stronger sense of reality. Jettison the dig at black Republicans, which makes no sense and exists here strictly to set up a straw man, and try to get past the artificial to instead enjoy the picture’s truth in humor for what it is. Besides a jab at the fascist TSA (an agent declares “I’ve got no life – and all day to ruin yours!”, the best description of a TSA agent I’ve heard), Baggage Claim‘s best line is about what it means to find real love, delivered by the most realistic character in the movie. It amounts to the movie’s theme that we should stop carrying what we don’t deserve and start looking for someone, not just anyone, to love.