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Leave Baggage Claim Alone, Black Folk. It Did What Rom Coms Do

I’ve had numerous people say to me they weren’t going to see the new movie “Baggage Claim” because they thought it was going to be corny, predictable, formulaic, blah blah. A number of people also said they can’t really stomach Paula Patton, including the person I went to see the movie with.

In my opinion, Patton was a fine choice for the optimistic, still-working-it-out, oblivious Montana Moore. Her seemingly flighty persona and physical comedy seemed natural for the part.

baggageclaimI was trying to think of other black actresses who would have pulled it off, in my opinion would have been any of the female leads of the cast of Girlfriends (Actress Keesha Sharp (Monica) would have knocked it out of the park, she does the sexy, funny girl really well. I love her on “Are We There Yet?”) , because they all have serious comedy chops, and are extremely good-looking. The only problem, even though they all look amazing is, they would have been too old for the role. I refuse to throw Sanaa in the mix, because she has been done to death. Yet I love her.

Now that I think about it, Raven Symone would have been a really interesting and ballsy choice for Montana (they ain’t ready), and would have nailed it, especially the speech at the end about loving herself.

Wait, now that I’ve listed all of these people… either way, I digress, Paula did her job. She was still adorable.

The younger crop of actresses are relegated to being sexy objects of affection or neck-rolling, no mess-taking, independent women.

Basically all of the people I’ve talked to about Baggage Claim were other black people. I don’t know how white people felt about it. I didn’t hear them gushing about it at work, so they just didn’t care. These kinds of movies kind of don’t register on their radar, because anything with a majority black cast, I tend to get the feeling there’s a belief there’s nothing there for them, meanwhile on the flipside, people of color don’t have choices. Most TV and movies have mostly white casts with one person of color just thrown in, but it is universally accepted by all audiences. We find the connections to characters unlike us anyway. But reverse it, and you just don’t see white people in the theaters for movies like this. You just don’t. “Think Like A Man” may have been the exception because of the fact that Steve Harvey is inescapable these days.  (They were moved by “The Butler” though… I do wonder if they’ll take it a step further and see “12 Years a Slave” but that’s another blog.)

My argument is this. If you ask a lot of black women, we looooove romantic movies and comedies and we don’t care who the hell is in them.

I adore Julia Roberts in basically anything and most black women will agree “Pretty Woman” is a classic. And “Dirty Dancing” we know the words, we know the dances, the music and we will scream, “Nobody puts baby in a corner,” with fervor.

“The Holiday” is one of my favorites and who doesn’t love Bridget Jones? Cmon.

“How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” is another fav. I can’t get that yellow dress out of my head. Ever.

So after naming all of these movies, it just amazes me how critical black people are of romantic comedies. The few that see the light of day.

I don’t know if we just stopped believing in love or because in our real lives it’s such a fucking battle, we can’t even enjoy poking fun at the journey and how love really makes us look goofy and silly. We have to be cool all the time. We have to be proving a point or that we are just as worthy as everyone else. Ugh.

That shit is tiring.

Why can’t black girls hide in trash cans outside of their lovers house? Or step in dog poo?

My heels get caught in sidewalk cracks all the time, and my dress will blow up on my way into the office.

It’s funny! It’s great. It makes me laugh at myself. Sometimes I have lipstick on my teeth and one time I almost walked out of the bathroom with my dress tucked into the back of my granny panties. These things are humorous bites of life we find ourselves still laughing at years from now.

Must we be so oppressed that we can’t create movies that reflect that too?

We always argue that people of other cultures paint us with the same broad brush culturally.

I actually feel like there’s some parity in the world when we can have a corny, predictable, silly, romantic comedy too. Was it over the top and totally not realistic?

Yes.

That’s what makes it a great movie. For people who are so technologically savvy, we have lost our imagination. Sometimes a cardboard box is a space ship, people. Sometimes it is.

I don’t want to constantly see a movie about how hard it is to be a black person.

We love, we laugh and we embarrass ourselves all of the time in the name of love. You’ve read my blog. You know I have moments.

So while everyone waits with bated breath for “The Best Man Holiday” (which I’ve already said I’m going to see three times in the theater), there are a bunch of people knocking Baggage Claim without giving it a chance and I think it’s unfair and unnecessary. For those who don’t know, “The Best Man” is one of the crown jewels of black romantic comedy in the cannon of black romantic comedy. Great story, great cast, great portrayal of black folk. The others include, “Love Jones,” “Love and Basketball”, “Brown Sugar,” “Something New,” “The Wood,” “The Brothers,” and I will include “Think Like A Man.”

I can’t wait.

Baggage Claim fit the rom com criteria.

Sad girl wants love.

She knowingly or unknowingly along with or without Friends and family hatch a hair-brained scheme to catch a man.

Poor unsuspecting man gets drawn in.

Meets sad, crazy girl, who wants love more than anything else.

He realizes she’s crazy and it all falls apart.

He realizes he can’t live without her and goes chasing after her, or she realizes she can’t live without him…

Basically whoever messed up the most has to run through the airport, train station, opening night, performance, business launch, somebody else’s wedding… etc. to say they were sorry and make up.

Nothing more, nothing less. It wasn’t going to be a groundbreaking glimpse into the dating life of good, black folks doing well for themselves.

And if it was, I wouldn’t feel like watching it. Instead of being funny and light, it would be sad and depressing and I have enough of that in DC in real life.

So lighten up, haters.

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2 thoughts on “Leave Baggage Claim Alone, Black Folk. It Did What Rom Coms Do

  1. You still on this?! LOL!

    But seriously, as you know I am all about the romantic comedy genre. It probably comprises a good 75 percent of my DVD collection and I am not ashamed of it. I even owned the worst black romantic comedy of all time at one point (Woo, don’t judge me, it still had a couple of funny moments).

    I enjoy the formula of the romantic comedy and the fact that you know that it’s going to work out in some shape, way or form in the end. And hell, nine times out of ten, you walk out of a romantic comedy with a brief moment of optimism that if the person on film can do all that and get someone, you have a chance in this world.

    Oh and that you need to figure out how to move into the same complex where someone as adorable as Derek Luke lives.

    • I knew you were going to speak on this. No, I’ve had people ask me about it and they are like, oh, I’ll just red box it or wait for cable.

      Or, I’d just rather people say they don’t like romantic comedies because they are corny. But I feel like black people put super high expectations on romantic comedies to be everything, when mainstream romantic comedies aren’t really all that awesomely written or well thought out.
      Just be equal opportunity in the critique, that’s all.

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