paula-patton_web.jpgIn Baggage Claim, based on the novel of the same name, flight attendant Montana Moore (played by Paula Patton) embarks on a quest to find herself a husband in time for the wedding  of her little sister Sheree (Lauren London). 

After a bitterly unsuccessful evening of spying on a potential husband, Montana’s best pals Gail (Jill Scott) and Sam (Adam Brody) try having her accidentally run into her eligible former boyfriends in hopes they have changed for the better. 

But Baggage Claim (in theaters Sept. 27) isn’t about a desperate woman. Novelist/writer/director David Talbert begins the film by explaining Montana’s thought process – chronicling the five marriages of her mother Catherine (Jenifer Lewis) – and ends with Montana’s epiphany about what finding true love really means.

“For me,” said Patton, “the clothes were a major part of the film, because (Montana) is dressing for each man, trying to change herself.” Montana, she said “goes on a journey and finds herself and finally doesn’t need a man.”

Talbert’s work includes his hit plays What My Husband Doesn’t Know and Love in the Nick of Tyme. His first feature-length film, First Sunday, wasn’t a big critical success, but resonated with many in the black community. 

Baggage Claim, Talbert’s second feature film, is projected to be more of a success in the romantic comedy genre. The jokingly self-proclaimed “super genius” is excited about the film’s release, given his own journey toward the finished product.

“I probably went through 200 pages of notes from the studio before the movie ever got greenlit,” said Talbert, whose pregnant wife Lyn makes a cameo. “Writing is re-writing and a lot of things that stop scripts from getting as good as they can get is people put a ceiling on them. … You’re creating that thing until they pry it out of your cold, lifeless hands.”

Talbert officially began creating the film version of his book after Patton, who he sees as a mix between Reese Witherspoon and Julia Roberts, signed on to do the film. Patton’s driving force for doing Baggage Claim was an opportunity for a black woman to be the lead in a romantic comedy; something rarely seen in mainstream cinema. 

The real inspiration for the story was a lot closer to home for Talbert.  Before writing the literary version he asked himself: “What if I found a woman that found herself in some of the craziest situations in pursuit of love?”

That inspiration is Lyn’s best friend, who Talbert describes as not bitter, but always hopeful, despite one devastating breakup after another.  It was during those musings and creative process that Montana Moore was born.

Baggage Claim isn’t only about Montana, though her journey is quite entertaining. It’s also about the people who serve as her support group or her biggest pain, depending on the character. 

Rounding out the cast are Tia Mowry-Hardrict as crazy mistress Janine, Djimon Hounsou as jet-setting African businessman Quinton, Boris Kodjoe as philandering Graham, Taye Diggs as future politician Langston Jefferson Battle III, Derek Luke as Everyman William, and Trey Songz as major poser Damon Diesel. 

Talbert is just one of a handful of black directors releasing films at the end of this year, films that already are generating buzz of the Academy Award kind.  The buzz surrounding Baggage Claim is quite positive, so the bar is set pretty high.  But Talbert takes all of it as a part of the creative process, in which the film’s message is the most important aspect.

“As far as relationships, the commentary is most profound in this movie in the midst of all of the fun that you’re having and the hijinks,” said Talbert. “The story is really what William says: ‘The magic isn’t in getting married; it’s in staying married.’”