Dir. David E. Talbert
Styles: romantic comedy, comedy
Others: Sex & The City, Pretty Woman, Just Wright
Links: Baggage Claim - Fox Searchlight
If Alison Bechdel were to attend a screening of Baggage Claim or stumble across it on cable, chances are her head would explode. The cartoonist is best known to film critics for creating “The Bechdel Test,” a simple rubric through which to view movies. A film passes if it has at least two women characters in it that speak to each other about something other than a man. Baggage Claim fails this test at every turn. Sure, there are plenty of women in the film, but their self-worth is determined by either snagging a husband or by bedding as many males as possible. And when they aren’t trying a gent on for size, they are complaining to one another about how tough it is to find and keep a good man. Nothing. Else. Matters.
The girl-least-likely-to in this film is Montana Moore, a flight attendant with a bad track record who just found out her current paramour is a married man. Despondent over the fact that her younger sister is engaged, she deems that she will not attend the engagement party alone, giving herself 30 days to land a beau. Hijinks ensue, and every female stereotype and archetype stretched over six seasons of Sex & The City is compacted into a 90 minute film.
It’s not just the hackneyed approach to the romantic comedy that makes this such a painful viewing experience. No one, and I mean no one, gets out of this movie with his or her dignity intact. In the role of Montana, Paula Patton proves herself way out of her depth, incapable to exuding charm or sexuality into this part. Her co-workers and co-conspirators, played by Jill Scott and Adam Brody, clown their way groaningly through underwritten roles. Even otherwise fine actors like Ned Beatty, Djimon Hounsou, and Taye Diggs effectively phone it in.
While I’m more than happy to admit that Baggage Claim is probably not aimed at someone like me — a straight white dude pushing 40 — regardless of intended audience demographics, this whole thing an insulting, tone deaf mess, and the worst kind of camp filmmaking around.