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‘Baggage Claim’ Aims To Take Flight

By Titus Falodun Staff Writer | 9/27/2013, 6 a.m.
Jill Scott as "Gail," Adam Brody as "Sam" and Paula Patton "Montana Moore" in 'Baggage Claim.'

“Baggage Claim” Rated PG-13. 96 minutes. Director David E. Talbert. Composer Aaron Zigman. Fox Searchlight.

In a renaissance season for established and budding black filmmakers, writer/director David E. Talbert takes his turn at the big screen with “Baggage Claim,” premiering in theaters this weekend.

"First of all he [Talbert] didn't dress as a woman," Paul Patton said jokingly, alluding to Tyler Perry. "So, that helped him separate himself."

At the Beverly Hills junket last month, where the robust cast and crew of "Baggage Claim" shared smiles and laughter, Patton revealed insight into Talbert as a filmmaker.

'I have much respect for Tyler Perry," Patton continued. "He's opened an enormous window for all of us. But that doesn't mean that every black director that comes around is Tyler Perry."

The statement drew strong claps in the room. It also led Talbert to playfully interject, "The sequel to 'Baggage Claim' is in the works.'"

Patton (“2 Guns”) helms the lead as Montana Moore in the film about airline professional seeking the right romantic kinship, as she enters the twilight of her youth.

She is the oldest daughter of Catherine Moore (Jenifer Lewis), who married five men (with hopes of finding another). Montana feels pressure from her overly critical mother and younger sister Sheree (Lauren London), who announces that she’s engaged.

Montana fears arriving at Sheree’s wedding without her own husband prospect, and becomes determined to find one, 30 days before Sheree’s rehearsal dinner.

Sound familiar?

Other than being the template for many romantic comedies, it is also a screen adaptation of Talbert’s novel by the same name.

But what sets this film apart is the notable supporting cast, featuring Taye Diggs, Jill Scott, Boris Kodjoe, LaLa Anthony, Adam Brody, Tia Mowry-Hardict, Trey Songz, Ricky Smiley, Terrence J, and even former Academy Award nominee Djimon Honsou (“Blood Diamonds”).

"This is a dream cast," Talbert said. "The goal was to get the best and the brightest that were available."

Scott, in particular, carries the load of the film’s comedic timing. The accomplished and seemingly modest singer slips effortlessly into a voluptuously seductive role as Gail Best, who is Montana’s fellow stewardess and confidante.

“Usually I play characters that have a lot of baggage,” Scott said at the Beverly Hills screening of the film. “[Gail’s] a little loose and I thought that would be fun.”

Not only is Gail loose and fun, she’s the best part of “Baggage Claim”—no pun intended.

There are other bright spots in the film. Comedian Affion Crokett does a marvelous job playing a Transportation Security Administration agent that even TSA would say is too strict.

Outside of the flash and flare that comes with the cast, savvy veterans Derek Luke and Taye Diggs play their roles subtly well. Luke is “Mr. Right,” more specifically William Wright, who is the trusty next-door neighbor and friend to Montana. Unfortunately, Wright is in a relationship with Taylor (Christina Milian).

Meanwhile, Diggs is cheesy but authentic as well-to-do bachelor Langston Jefferson Battle III, who seeking a leading, yet in the background lady of his own. However, a pintsized dog named Juicy may have something to say about that.

In short, “Baggage Claim” is a date-flick that may help a relationship in layover takeoff.