The romantic comedy is the most formulaic movie genre in existence. That is not necessarily a bad thing; a rom-com is not a movie where you want the filmmakers to tinker with the 'happy ever after'. You want the girl and guy to meet, to fall for each other, to encounter that major obstacle, then to beat that obstacle right at the end at the last minute and realize they are meant to be together forever. If you want to see that spoofed rent Date Movie - it's not great, but it may make you chuckle a few times.
The problem I have with rom-coms is one I have stated many times before, they are (at best) insistent that a woman will never be happy while she is single; and (at worst), insulting in assuming that all women think about is weddings and babies. There are some well-done rom-coms out there, and some that are genuinely funny. Return to Me is my favorite, and Think Like A Man is a recent really good ensemble piece.
There are also those that are hugely terrible and insulting; the best example of that is He’s Just Not That Into You.
David Talbert is a playwright, filmmaker and novelist from the Tyler Perry if-they-say-no-to-your-script-then-make-it-on-your-own school of movie making. I love this method, and it can help get some smaller projects to the screen. He wrote the book Baggage Claim in 2005, and has now directed it to the screen.
The story centers around Montana Moore, who has been a bridesmaid at all 5 of her mother’s weddings, and just learned that her younger sister is getting married. With great pressure from her mother ("You're not really a 'lady' if you're not married by 30" - guess I'm not a lady), she vows to not go to her little sister’s wedding alone. Hoping to help her out, her friends conspire to help her ‘run into’ all of her old flames, to see which have matured into possible husband material. Seeing as how she is a flight attendant, and apparently met all of her past boyfriends on flights, they arrange to find how when and how each of the exes are flying, and get Montana on that flight. They plan is exceptionally convoluted, but does ensure that some hijinks ensue.
- Paula Patton led other rom-coms, most recently Jumping the Broom. She also played the bitchy best friend in a Queen Latifah rom-com, Just Wright. She is capable in this, but on the whole, I felt like her performance was a bit forced. She was fine, but when the supporting cast was so much more fun, it was easy to look past her. It seems that a lot of her acting is in her eyebrows. She did a good job being frustrated by her situation, especially when dealing with her overbearing mother. I actually liked her better in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. I thought she was better in that.
- Derek Luke plays the handsome neighbor/best friend who Montana has known all her life. He’s always been there for her, and once proposed to her using a ring he got in a Cracker Jack box when they were in elementary school. He’s got a girlfriend (who is a bit shady), so Montana does not consider him as an option. Unlike the audience, she misses the super-subtle point of his last name being Wright. He’s literally her Mr. Right. Spoilers (sort of), they predictably realize they are meant for each other. He’s very good in this, but I loved him in Captain America. He was also in Antwone Fisher, and Friday Night Lights (movie not TV show) and played Puff Daddy in the Notorious BIG biopic.
Christina Milian, who is now on Dancing with the Stars, plays Mr. Wright’s girlfriend, Taylor. She has just a few scenes, but is actually very good in those moments, particularly in once where she hangs up on Montana.
Taye Diggs plays Langston, one of the exes who has become a Congressman. Diggs is amazing all the time, and brings a super-smarmy politician sleeze to this role. He seems to really be having fun in this movie. He’s done a lot of really fun things in his career – which of course, started in musical theater (he’s one of the original Rent cast members). A few of my favorites from his list are: The Best Man, Malibu’s Most Wanted (seriously, rent that again – it’s funny!), Chicago, and the fantastic TV series Daybreak – which you can rent, and you should. Then there’s this bit of genius:
- Boris Kodjoe (most recently from the Resident Evil movies) plays the current sort-of boyfriend of Montana. She spends a wonderful weekend with him, only to discover that he’s not all that he’s cracked up to be. Boris is stunning, and did get a slow-motion shirt un-buttoning scene that caused ecstatic squeals from all the women in the completely full theater that I saw this movie in, and yes – I was also squealing – he’s just too sexy to handle, especially in slow motion. Patton does get some really funny scenes as she stalks outside his house.
- Trey Songz (Tremaine Neverson) has already done one other movie, Texas Chainsaw 3D, so this was not his first acting experience. Although, I have to say, I felt like he was basically playing himself.
- Jill Scott was wonderful as best friend Gail. She is the stereotypical best friend in a rom-com, so she’s sassy and over-sexed. Scott does bring a freshness to the movie, and her sassy does compliment Patton's moping very nicely.
- Adam Brody from the O.C. and Mr. and Mrs. Smith plays the other best friend, Sam. He is good in this and some of the best scenes are with the three of them hanging out. I do wish there were more of those scenes in the movie.
- Jenifer Lewis plays the aforementioned overbearing mother. She’s excellent, but I feel like I’ve seen her play this exact role before – in Think Like A Man. She’s very good, and has some really funny side bits of business, like coming over to borrow earrings that she bought for Montana. It is a little disturbing how insistent she is that her daughters’ worth is determined by the men they marry, and that does make her final speech feel a bit sudden and inconsistent for her character.
- Djimon Hounsou plays Quinton, another of the exes. This is the first time since that Janet Jackson video that I think I have seen him without facial hair. He’s great, and smooth, and just wants to take Montana around the world traveling. His character is very clear in what he wants, and what he can provide, and would have been hard to pass up.
In case you forgot - here's that video, in which he looks amazing.
- Lauren London plays the younger sister, Sheree, who has almost no scenes but does well in the few she has, especially right at the end.
The movie is already doing well, it was made with a budget 8.5 million, and opened with 9.3 million. It is a solid rom-com. I of course, wanted the movie to end with Montana realizing that she did not need a man to complete her life, despite what her mother and sister do/say. I wanted her to determine that she was capable of finding happiness on her own, that love would arrive on its own schedule, and that single women can be happy. Essentially, she makes that realization, but you know rom-coms don’t end that way, so it’s short-lived. The happy, single woman does not exist in the rom-com universe. Oh well, at least the movie is fun!
7 out of 10: Gained points for Jill Scott – she was awesome. Lost points for Montana spending way too much time whining about being single (like every woman at the center of every rom-com). Gained points for that slo-mo Boris Kodjoe shot, I will rent the DVD to just play that bit over and over. Lost points for Jenifer Lewis being either under-used or one-note, can’t figure out whose fault that is. Gained points for Taye Diggs being awesome, and Juicy the dog.
Bonus Video 1: Dylan Dog featuring vampire Taye Diggs
Bonus Video 2: My favorite Jill Scott song
Bonus Video 3: In case you forgot (how could you), Patton is married to Robin Thicke, and was in his big hit video - Lost Without You:
Bonus Video 4: Cast Interviews!