Catch and Release
Rated PG-13; Directed by Susannah Grant; Starring Jennifer Garner, Timothy Olyphant, Kevin Smith, Juliette Lewis
Catch and Release didn’t do well at the movie theaters, and it never made it to Flagstaff. Why didn’t it do well? Was the movie a little too different for audiences or did the movie suck the big one? It’s out on DVD and the answer is: eh, it doesn’t suck totally, nor is it too different. Basically the movie is just so-so. For every scene or plot point that surprises there are plenty of trite and awkward moments.
Starring Jennifer Garner, Catch and Release starts off great. Garner plays Gray Wheeler, a woman whose fiancée has just died. Dealing with a funeral instead of a wedding, Gray must also deal with her fiancée’s friends, including Fritz (Timothy Olyphant). Fritz’s way of dealing with his friend’s death is to get lucky at the funeral. Obviously Gray can’t stand Fritz. In romantic-comedy world you know that means they’ll end up romantically involved.
Along with Gray and Fritz (what kind of parents names their kids Gray or Fritz?) there are Gray’s friends and roommates Sam (Kevin Smith) and Dennis (Sam Jaeger). They’re along to add humor to the proceedings, but rarely make it work. Kevin Smith, writer and director of Chasing Amy and Clerks should be funny, but the script doesn’t give him enough to really make us laugh. The plot does thicken when Gray discovers that the man she was about to marry had a child, and that the boy and his mother are in town looking for financial help. Juliette Lewis plays the mother and she does bring some obvious humor to the proceedings.
Jennifer Garner is okay as Gray. She is better at playing sad, while her attempts at silly are forced. Timothy Olyphant is just okay as the romantic interest, but leaves little impression. The two make a pretty, if rather bland, couple.
First-time director Susannah Grant, who also wrote the film, has some neat ideas, including a wonderful sequence with a fly-fishing trip. Too bad the movie settles for the routine route. As writer of Erin Brockovich and In Her Shoes Grant has skill at writing, and as a first-time director she shows promise. Unfortunately she tries too much in the film and some things work; others don’t. She also pulls everything into a nice tidy ending without moving the characters to that ending in a natural way. They go from point A to point C, and somehow we never see them pass point B.
Catch and Release is the type of film that disappoints because it starts out promising and then settles for the typical plot points. It doesn’t suck, but it doesn’t delight. It does make for an okay movie to pop into the DVD player when you are bored.