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Catch and Release Movie Review

There’s Something Fishy Going On

About.com Rating 2.5 Star Rating

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Catch and Release Movie Review

Sam Jaeger, Kevin Smith and Jennifer Garner in "Catch and Release."

© Columbia Pictures
Jennifer Garner’s charm and appeal as the lead in a romantic comedy is put to the test in Catch and Release. The directorial debut of screenwriter Susannah Grant (Charlotte’s Web, Erin Brockovich), Catch and Release tries too hard to add depth to the rom-com genre and doesn’t hook audiences because of its heavy-handed approach and unwieldy plot.
The Story

Jennifer Garner stars as Gray (the name’s appropriate as it matches her mood), an unfortunate woman left planning a funeral when she should be jetting off to her honeymoon in Hawaii. Her fiancé, Grady, was killed doing something sports-related days before their wedding and instead of sitting down to wedding cake, Grady’s friends and family are forced to gather to mourn his death.

Lost without her man, Gray moves in with his two best friends - the quiet, organized, and thoughtful Dennis (Sam Jaeger) and Sam (Kevin Smith), the beer-guzzling, jovial buddy who spouts inspirational sayings. Also present on a temporary basis is Grady’s friend Fritz (Timothy Olyphant), the only one of the bunch who’s left Boulder, Colorado. Fritz, an attractive womanizer with an irresistible smile, is employed in the entertainment business and now makes his home in LA. And speaking of his irresistible smile, that asset is apparently what makes our heroine fall hard for a guy who, on the surface, appears to be as likely to settle down with one lady as he is to sprout wings.

Timothy Olyphant and Jennifer Garner share a quiet moment in "Catch and Release."

© Columbia Pictures
Don’t bother messing with the whats and whys of Gray’s quick move into the home shared by Grady’s friends. Just accept it for what it is: a plot contrivance used to put her in close proximity to the men who will ultimately add the ‘romantic’ angle to this dramedy. It’s also pointless to try and figure out why Gray would fall so fast for any of her deceased boyfriend's buddies. I believe a new relationship pops up within days of the funeral, but it’s tough to tell because the timeline’s not exactly clear.

The Acting

Timothy Olyphant’s Fritz could have been an intriguing character had Grant not emasculated him halfway through the story. It’s not Olyphant’s fault and he still manages to prove his worth as a romantic leading man. Sam Jaeger doesn't fare as well although, to his credit, it's mostly due to the fact we're not really given the opportunity to see what he's capable of. Playing the third banana of the bunch - and the deceased’s most reliable and grounded friend - Jaeger’s character’s so clichéd it feels as though it’s been plugged into this film after appearing in dozens of other romantic comedies. Jaeger’s playing that dependable guy who stays quiet about his love for his best friend’s girl until he thinks the moment is just right to move in. Yes, we’ve seen it before and it hardly ever works out well for the poor guy, does it?

There are maybe two or three scenes in the movie featuring Kevin Smith when he’s not shown either eating or drinking. What’s with the oral fixation? It’s silly and wears thin quickly. Yet Smith, despite the fact writer/director Grant keeps shoving things in his character’s mouth, manages to steal the entire movie. Sam’s the one character who actually seems like someone you’d run into the real world and Smith’s charismatic performance is the one piece that holds the film together. If there’s a reason to buy a ticket it's not for Jennifer Garner's performance or for the plot, it’s to check out what Smith manages to do with his supporting role.

The Bottom Line

Susannah Grant's a terrific screenwriter but somehow she missed the boat with Catch and Release. Characters don’t so much evolve in natural ways as they do flip-flop and change to suit the needs of the story. Not to spoil the movie for you, but expect a dramatic turn by Kevin Smith’s character that’s completely out of line with the rest of the film. Plus, it’s difficult to understand why Gray wouldn’t have a clue her recently deceased fiancé came from a wealthy family and might just have money of his own. And why doesn’t this personable woman have any friends or family of her own? Do you hear that clinking noise? It’s the chains of the plot left dangling…

Grade: C

Catch and Release was directed by Susannah Grant and is rated PG-13 for sexual content, language and some drug use.

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