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Unrealistic Catch and Release Isn't a Keeper

  • Christa Banister Contributing Writer
  • 2007 1 Jan
  • COMMENTS
Unrealistic <i>Catch and Release</i> Isn't a Keeper

DVD Release Date:  May 8, 2007
Theatrical Release Date:  January 26, 2007
Rating:  PG-13 (sexual content, language, some drug use)
Genre:  Romantic Comedy/Drama
Run Time: 111 min.
Director:  Susannah Grant
Actors:  Jennifer Garner, Timothy Olyphant, Sam Jaeger, Kevin Smith, Juliette Lewis

In stark contrast to her role as a college student turned kick-butt international spy on the hit TV show Alias, Jennifer Garner also proved she had a flair for comedy in the sweet, coming-of-age flick 13 Going on 30. Some critics even called her the next Julia Roberts, with her mix of self-deprecating humor and approachability, not to mention that trademark, dimpled smile.

But even Garner’s smile, which she flashes constantly in Catch and Release, isn’t going to make up for the film’s weak script. In what essentially starts out as a drama but morphs into a romantic comedy quicker than you can say You’ve Got Mail, we’re introduced to Garner’s character Gray Wheeler, an appropriate name for a bride-to-be who didn’t quite make it to the altar.

After her fiancé Grady dies in an unfortunate skiing accident during his bachelor party, she’s forced to rebuild her life without the love of her life. And in the process, she learns quite a few things she never knew about Grady. First off, there’s the sizable bank account he never bothered to mention. Worst yet, he may or may not have fathered a son after an extended affair with Maureen (Juliette Lewis), a wacky massage therapist he’d meet up with during his Los Angeles business trips.

Helping Gray to get by, however, are two of Grady’s closest pals, who end up being her roommates when she’s forced to vacate the expensive rental she lived in before. One is the charming-but-uptight Dennis (Sam Jaeger), Grady’s former business partner, who we later discover has harbored a six-year crush on Gray for reasons that are never explained (must have been that smile). The other is the sloppy but endearingly funny Sam (Kevin Smith) who’s the best thing this movie’s got in the comedy department, despite his penchant for overeating, self-medicating and reciting inspirational quotes from the back of herbal tea boxes.
 
Of course, a romantic comedy wouldn’t be complete, either, without the good-looking love interest that our protagonist hated the moment she met him but fell in love with without much effort. In this movie, his name is Fritz (Timothy Olyphant), and despite his unfortunate name, he’s pretty easy on the eyes. But his transformation from perennial ladies man to stand-up guy happens much too fast and furiously to be believable.

Ultimately, it’s these clichés that take the movie’s compelling premise and flush it down the drain in a hurry. In what could’ve been an insightful commentary on the grieving process, the writers wasted an opportunity by creating unbelievable characters in a by-the-numbers comedy that’s devoid of any substance.

And that’s the unfortunate “catch” with Catch and Release. If you really loved someone as much as Gray claimed to love Grady, you probably wouldn’t be able to release him quite so quickly.
      
AUDIENCE:  Older teens and up

CAUTIONS:

  • Drugs/Alcohol:  Fritz is shown getting ready to smoke pot. Sam nearly overdoses on prescription medicine. And because Sam describes himself as “depressed,” he tends to drink plenty of alcohol—straight from the bottle. Gray gets drunk with a stranger at a bar and acts rather loopy when she gets home as a result. There’s also plenty of social drinking shown at her wedding, which never happened, and the funeral that follows instead.
  • Language/Profanity:  An assortment of expletives throughout, including a few instances of God’s name being taken in vain.
  • Sex/Nudity:  Early on, Fritz and a random woman he met at the funeral engage in a very noisy sexual encounter. There is also another sex scene that involves Gray where nothing is explicit is shown, along with two scenes where sex is implied. Gray also announces at the dinner table that she “made it with a girl once.” In addition, there’s plenty of other talk of a sexual nature.
  • Violence:  None that isn’t of the comic variety.
  • Religion:  Maureen is a New-Age massage therapist who talks extensively about auras, people’s chi, etc. While her role is played mostly for laughs, her supporting role is a significant part of the story.