"Baggage Claim"

Writer/director David Talbert has created a romantic comedy that would have felt right at home in 1993. The charismatic Paula Patton stars as a loveless flight attendant determined to find Mr. Right before her little sister's wedding in 30 days. Thus launches a madcap dash across the country to find and reconnect with old boy friends to give them one more chance.

While it's hard not to like Patton's girl-next-door character, everyone else in the film is such a painful caricature that any humor hiding in the script will be drowned out by your own groans of disbelief. The bickering duo of flight attendants, one a gay man (Adam Brody) and the other a heavyset woman (Jill Scott) is painfully hackneyed.

Talbert's style of directing is as dated as his sitcom-style script. Performances are over-the-top, muting the actors' talents. May appeal to teenage girls, but few else. Too racy for kids younger than 12. (PG-13: Language and sex). 1 hour and 36 minutes.

Ratings (out of 4 stars):

Overall: 1½ stars

Kids: N/A

Teens: 2½ stars

Adults: 1½ stars

Seniors: 1½ stars

Should you watch it? No -- the comedic equivalent of blunt-force trauma.

"Two Guns"

There is a fine line between charming and arrogant, and no one personifies that gray region better than Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg. These leading men have proved their on-screen talents time and time again with entertaining and occasionally powerful performances.


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And yet you can't help but feel they both believe they are God's gift to man. Their swagger permeates nearly all of their work, and at times can be tiring. So director Baltasar Kormákur's decision to pair these strong-willed actors in the same film was gutsy.

Fortunately, Kormákur's gamble pays off. Wahlberg and Washington expertly play undercover cops working to bring down a Mexican drug lord while simultaneously battling a shadowy network of rogue American officials. Washington and Wahlberg's personalities don't compete but instead build on each other, creating a rip-roaring action film that satisfied me even more than finally eating a slice of pizza after a monthlong descent into the hell of being gluten-free.

This is not meant to be an art film that uses violence to deliver a broader lesson. Mercifully, it also doesn't get saddled down with wacky bad guys intent on world domination. This is just a straightforward cops-and-robbers movie with lots of bullets and interesting twists. As a bonus, the dialogue is snappy and the editing crisp.

Sign me up for more of these unpretentious, well-made, action movies. The bloodshed and intensity make this best for kids 14 and older. High levels of cinematic testosterone may turn off some women. (R: Violence, language and sex). 1 hour and 49 minutes.

Ratings (out of 4 stars):

Overall: 3 stars

Kids: N/A

Teens: 3 stars

Adults: 3 stars

Seniors: 2½ stars

Should you watch it? Yes -- quality action film that kicks butt.

J.B. Alderman lives in Piedmont and can be reached at jason@alderman.net.