Humanoids, I made a decision on Friday that may shock some of you, and I am feeling the effects of that decision. That decision…was to go to a theater…alone…and see the romantic comedy Baggage Claim.
Some readers of Marz Daily Media might wonder why the hell I saw Baggage Claim in the first place. Admittedly, a feminist bachelor such as myself would enter the theater with 2 strikes already against the experience. But far be it from me to deny myself the ability to opine on a film from the genre that both exploits the anxiety of women and reinforces ideals that undermine their strength (See? 2 strikes).
The premise of Baggage Claim is simple (and not as fun as a pitch I posted a while back): Montana, a flight attendant approaching 30, sets out to find a date to her much younger sister’s wedding from the pool of men she’s already dated. With the help of her airline friends, Montana dashes about the country to ‘run into’ the men of her past in hopes of finding one that is just a suitable escort, but also ‘The One.’
In Montana’s defense, she arrives at marital urgency honestly since her mother, Catherine, has been married five times. Montana grew up aligning her self-worth with her ability to find a man willing to spiritually commit…at least for a while. Therefore, her warped upbringing is all that allows the audience to maintain sympathy for her (how the hell else can an attractive woman with the ability to travel at will be sympathetic?). Of course, women that can even remotely identify with Montana’s dilemma can sympathize with her more easily. However, under the circumstance of being a man, I don’t have time for that s___.
Alas, the mother-daughter drama remains a problematic thread for the entire story. Although the evolution of Montana’s relationship with Catherine tries to reach a heart-warming climax, the resolution of their arc is neither earned nor logical. The only way to justify this storyline’s conclusion is to presume that women should not be expected to make any sense. For instance, Catherine begins the film treating marriage as if it is the holy grail of existence, unapologetically at the expense of Montana’s self-esteem. Then, [spoiler alert] when Montana realizes that loving herself is more important than locking down a man, Catherine takes credit for that realization, saying that she raised Montana to be an independent woman. What compounds this inconsistency is that the attitudinal shift may have been forgivable if Catherine hadn’t insisted that Montana marry a stranger with a wedding ring mere minutes before they had their final mother-daughter moment. Women of the world: if any of this relationship as it has been described reflects a reality that you have experienced, I sincerely apologize on behalf of all that’s right with humanity.
Giving credit for filmic consistency, though, writer/director David E. Talbert pulls even the upstanding male character into this vortex of what-the-f___ery. William Wright (Mr. Wright? Seriously, bro?), Montana’s lifelong friend and next door neighbor, represents to the audience what Montana fails to see throughout the story: a strong, dependable, independent guy who accepts and appreciates the flaws that Montana has worked tirelessly to hide from the men she unsuccessfully chases. It is clear from the start that William and Montana will end up together per the Hollywood formula, but the ‘happily ever after’ that audiences expect happens so quickly after Montana’s moment of clarity that she never has to confront the ups and downs of being a happily single lady in these streets, arguably negating the value of her self-affirmation.
Perhaps allowing Montana to have her cake and eat it offers a Cliff’s Notes version of a story in which the moral is that as soon as you get your head out of your ass, you’ll see that what you’ve been looking for has been there all along. But in a world of where cause-and-effect and self-respect exist, there is no way that William would still hold a flame for Montana after chauffeuring her along her man-quest and being treated like an asexual confidant. The romantic realization to which William and Montana arrive breaks more human rules than the power of love can explain away. And being sent home thinking that this story was worth the 90 minutes and 14 doll hairs (14!) should infuriate men and women alike.
Then again, maybe a woman who barely knows who she is and a guy who loves her for it anyway deserve each other, for better or worse. Oh hell…what just happened? This movie just broke my brain. Must. Remember. Baggage Claim. Is Turrible.