Every once in a while, a movie comedy turns up DOA at local theaters, done in by blind stupidity and a story buried so deep under an avalanche of rom-com clichés that it doesn't even know what it's saying.
"Baggage Claim" would be one of them.
Starring: Paula Patton, Derek Luke, Taye Diggs, Djimon Hounsou, Jill Scott, Adam Brody, Jenifer Lewis
Directed by: David E. Talbert
Other: A Fox Searchlight release. Rated PG-13 for language, sexual situations. 96 minutes
Take the hotel engagement party scene in which single flight attendant Montana Moore (Paula Patton) goes to a podium to address friends and family members gathered to celebrate the impending nuptials of her little sister (Lauren London).
Instead of saying something nice about the bride-to-be, Montana launches into a pity-me speech, revealing her romantic failures and lamenting her lonely life to people who don't react at all to her disgracefully selfish conduct.
What kind of person would do this to her sister on such a special occasion? Not one we'd like to hang out with for 93 minutes.
Or take the later confrontation in which Montana's momma (Jenifer Lewis) explains that she had good reasons for undermining her daughter's self-esteem and constantly criticizing her. She did it so that Montana wouldn't turn out like her, an unhappy, five-times-married woman.
(Hey, Mom! This is exactly how you would treat your daughter if you wanted her to grow up as unhappy and messed-up as you.)
Writer/director David E. Talbert, adapting his own 2003 novel to the silver screen, comes up with one of the goofiest plot premises ever greenlighted by a major Hollywood studio (this one Fox).
Because her sister will be married in 30 days, that gives Montana one month to find Mr. Right and bring him with her to the wedding.
The plan: Her flight attendant buddies, Sam the Gay Stereotype (Adam Brody with limp wrists) and Gail the Floozy (Jill Scott with cleavage), will track down all of Montana's ex-lovers and arrange things so that Montana can "accidentally" bump into them during their flights.
That way, Montana can find a husband out of a pool of guys with whom she's already had failed relationships.
Meanwhile, back in Montana's Baltimore apartment building, her neighbor, Mr. Wright (the ever-cute Derek Luke, and I did not make up this name), remembers fondly how he once asked Montana to marry him in third grade.
Gee, do ya think that maybe he might be ...? Oh, nevermind.
"Baggage Claim" doesn't just recycle brain-dead comedy clichés once, it recycles them over and over.
Take the moldy setup where a character shouts, "I will not do this!" and in the next shot, the character is doing this, whatever "this" is.
"I am not going out on the fire escape!" Montana shouts.
Zip! Next shot, there she is on the fire escape.
"I will not climb into the Dumpster!" Montana shouts.
Zip! Next shot, there she is in the Dumpster.
"I will not go to that man's house!" Montana shouts.
Zip! Next shot, she's, well, you know.
On it goes.
Pretty Patton is particularly annoying in "Baggage Claim." Her Montana acts like a 15-year-old girl over-exaggerating her cuteness as if trying to impress boys. Except she acts this way to everyone in the movie, including Mom.
This is one disappointing rom-com bomb, with a talented supporting cast -- Djimon Hounsou, Taye Diggs, Trey Songz, Boris Kodjoe and Tia Mowry-Hardrict among others -- counted among the collateral damage.