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Star's mugging weighs down 'Baggage Claim'

  • Djimon Hounsou and Paula Patton star in "Baggage Claim."

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    Djimon Hounsou and Paula Patton star in "Baggage Claim."

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By Robert Horton
Herald Movie Critic
  • Djimon Hounsou and Paula Patton star in "Baggage Claim."

    Fox Searchlight

    Djimon Hounsou and Paula Patton star in "Baggage Claim."

How many romantic comedies end with people running across the airport to catch a plane? Right. But "Baggage Claim" ups the ante by making its main character a flight attendant -- so this movie's already got its head in the clouds.
Hang on. Was that thing about the airport a spoiler? Only if you've never seen a movie before, I guess. Anyway, most romantic comedies have ending you can see coming from the other end of the runway. It's really all about how you get there.
And with "Baggage Claim," getting there is reasonably pleasant if you go in with low-flying expectations. We are in the company of Montana Moore (Paula Patton), a successful flight attendant who has a touchy relationship with her mom (Jenifer Lewis), and not just because her mother named her Montana Moore.
Mom expects her to be engaged in time for the wedding of Montana's younger sister, a month away. Lacking an actual candidate, Mo and her airline friends (led by the funny duo of Adam Brody and Jill Scott) try to calculate where Montana's ex-boyfriends are flying during the month, the better to arrange "accidental" meetings.
The best of these disasters comes when a rising politician (Taye Diggs) scoops up Montana to act as his date while fund-raising. The others cook up various levels of slapstick, featuring would-be beaux such as Derek Luke, Djimon Hounsou and Trey Songz.
All of these are supposed to be happening all over the country, although it all looks like the same place. That seems like a missed opportunity for fun (and Montana rarely appears jet-lagged, either).
The movie's a showcase for Paula Patton, late of "2 Guns," "Precious" and the last "Mission: Impossible" movie. She can be an engaging presence, and has her moments here. But at times she gives the impression of a really pretty woman trying to convince everybody she's funny, too -- which means she has a tendency to mug for the camera, instead of letting the funny stuff play off her.
Some of that -- no, most of it -- should be blamed on writer-director David E. Talbert, a successful playwright whose previous movie comedy, "First Sunday," was a weak effort.
It's fine to end your romcom at an airport, but take care of your actors on the way there.
"Baggage Claim" (2½ stars)
The clock is ticking for a flight attendant (Paula Patton), who tries to find a fiance in time for her sister's wedding in a month. This generally pleasant romcom has a talented cast, although director David E. Talbert lets Patton mug too much, as though trying to prove she can do comedy.
Rating: PG-13, for subject matter.
Showing: Alderwood Mall, Everett Stadium, Meridian, Oak Tree, Cascade Mall.
Story tags » Movies

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