The Retrograde Gender Politics and Cliches of Baggage Claim

The Retrograde Gender Politics and Cliches of Baggage Claim

Baggage Claim
Directed by David E. Talbert
Fox Searchlight
Opens September 27

The black pulchritude on display in Baggage Claim is staggering. Whether it's men, women, or both who float your boat, and whether you are Team Light Skin or Team Dark Skin—or hopefully evolved beyond that nonsense—there is some heavenly body onscreen for everyone to drool over.

Sadly, that's the film's only strength, as its retrograde gender politics, its hard sell of 1 percenter lifestyle porn, its irony-free lionization of all-purpose sass (sassy gay friend; sassy sex-starved best female friend; sassy black mama), and its leaps (and dismissals) of logic in story, plot, and character are enough to make Black Jesus weep in despair at the failure of filmmaking fundamentals.

The story: When almost-30-year-old single lady Montana (Paula Patton, as the slightly more melanin-blessed Jennifer Aniston character) finds out that she is to be a bridesmaid yet again—and this time for her younger sister, no less—she hits panic mode, giving herself the 30 days until the wedding to find a man of her own.

Along with her best friends and fellow flight attendants—sassy gay guy; sassy nympho—she cooks up a plan to use her job to find a mate. Meanwhile, the gorgeous slice of Hershey's across the hall (Derek Luke), her childhood best friend, waits in the wings for her to realize what the audience gleans within seconds of seeing them together.

As Montana auditions possible suitors and suffers various humiliations, there are a handful of laughs, but nothing to balance the onslaught of clichés, or the Jill-Clayburgh-circa-'78 speech wherein she reveals that she's been to paradise but never been to herself. (That's not a spoiler. Trust.)

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