Saturday, 12 October 2013

#ESPspotlight REVIEW: 'BAGGAGE CLAIM' (OCTOBER 2013)


Well the second undeniable fact to remember about Baggage Claim, is that Paula Patton must be one hell of an American Football player. Some of the comedic dashes that she does within this film, seem like they could easily double as an audition reel for some billion-dollar team.

Sadly, the first, which is really impossible to ignore, is that the latest Fox Searchlight rom-com is truly, tragically, terrible. Like the fruitless 'Big Announcement' at the film's pivotal moment, or just one of those bazookas Jill Scott defiantly squashes into her stewardess' uniform; the project as a whole, is purely eye-candy - made up of the fluffiest cotton, and full of hot air. A regular reader might recall how much I was looking forward to an A-typical wedding film. FAn of all things 'festive' as I am, the cheese and fruit fest that is wedding season, has well and truly rotted me to my core, which is precisely why the premise of this film gave me hope, for an enjoyable take on the sufferings of the last few months. Like Jill's bountiful mounds, the ambrosia cups overfloweth with all of the celebrity star power on the bill. Paula 'Mrs Thicke (in all the right places)' Patton, led a cast that includes her hubby's 'Real Husbands of Hollywood' co-star, Boris Kodjoe in an early tryst - making for what must have been one very awkward water cooler conversation on the RHOH set. The caramel cutie (Boris, not Paula - although she's also very pretty) leads a cast of male stars auditioning for the role of 'future husband that her Mother (the legendary Jenifer Lewis) will approve of', at her baby sister's (Lauren London) engagement dinner. The literal 'age old Spinster story' that we all know and detest - still with me?

Essentially, the story gives our heroine 30 days to find a suitor that will save public face in front of her overbearing Mother, family, and friends. Since she cannot guarantee that she will meet a new man, worthy of the task in that time period; her best friends Adam Brody (The OC), and Jill Scott (Voluptuous Mound Owner, user of Vaseline, spectacular singer, who also acts really well) come up with the genius idea to 're-meet' an old one, and change the (her) behaviour that broke them up in the first place. Naturally, the best means of her putting said plan into action, is to use her flight attendant occupation as the literal vehicle, and colleagues at pretty much every stop point within their airport, to alert her to where her exes are flying from, to, and when, so that she may engineer the perfect 'accidental meeting'.

Trey Songz not REALLY acting much..or at all.
Trey Songz and Tia Mowry make for a semi-entertaining first attempt, when the comedy of a story we've seen so many times, starts to wane. Songz does his best with the few one-liners one would expect of his realistic, unstretchable character; while Mowry reminds you why she and her twin made the successful transition from childhood stars to adult entertainers (not that kind). She does crazy - and funny - to perfection. Attempt #2; Taye Diggs does a wonderful job of pretentious, overbearing, control freak well, giving a solid, entertaining performance. The Tiger Woods reference got me giggling, and his inappropriate chauvinism was stellar - by his final scene, the buffoonery he played up so well had you nostalgic for a little bit of Carlton - sweater vests, bow ties, and oh so smooth moves to a Tom Jones soundtrack...

I can't pretend I've ever understood the pull of Djimon Hounsou; and his turn as the rich and dashing, debonair option, come to sweep Patton off her feet, did nothing at all to shed any light. I actually gave serious thought to doing a crossword throughout his entire section of the film - and I don't mean answering one in today's paper. I started creating a crossword puzzle. From scratch. In my mind. The entire time he was onscreen. Hey, as long as you get the appeal, there's no judgment here, Kimora Dear... Derek Luke, the affable boy next door, and her best friend for quarter of a decade is the story's hero - and it's a part he plays well. The Eternal Hero, Luke is a combination of the Power of Three - Mr Best Friend, Mr Romantic, and Mr Pick You Up at 2 in the Morning, No Questions Asked, When You're Stranded After A Hairbrained Scheme Goes Awry. That's right folks - he's The Dream.
Derek Luke - AKA Mr Reliable, Responsible and Romantic...
Affion Crockett can't help but be hilarious, so long as he's doing that breathing thing; throw in a metal detector, some fake, 70s pornstar facial hair, and the man has all the ingredients he needs to split your sides. LaLa Anthony didn't really get the chance to stretch her acting skills from her now typical small-role pigeonhole

Unfortunately, Baggage Claim never delivered the expected level of funny that the heavyweight lineup promised, in David E. Talbert's latest Directorial offering. They had all the players, it worked perfectly on paper, but I'm sad to announce, the good movie that we thought we'd be receiving is Lost In Transit.

See Baggage Claim (if you really want to) in Vue Cinemas, out now... 2*.

ES ;)

All images courtesy of Fox Searchlight UK.