You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Catch and Release

Neither as bad as its early buzz and January berth would suggest nor as good as it should have been, "Catch and Release" is a so-so romantic dramedy about a woman (Jennifer Garner) finding love in the wake of her fiance's accidental death.

Gray - Jennifer Garner Fritz - Timothy Olyphant Dennis - Sam Jaeger Sam - Kevin Smith Maureen - Juliette Lewis Mattie - Joshua Friesen Mrs. Douglas - Fiona Shaw

Neither as bad as its early buzz and January berth would suggest nor as good as it should have been, “Catch and Release” is a so-so romantic dramedy about a woman (Jennifer Garner) finding love in the wake of her fiance’s accidental death. True to its name, largely forgettable item should register as a brief theatrical catch –playing to limited, femme-driven B.O. — before its hastened release on DVD racks.

The helming debut of scribe Susannah Grant (“Erin Brockovich”), who also penned it, “Catch and Release” was originally slated for an April 2006 release. But Sony, seeking to lighten its marketing load (Daily Variety, Jan. 12, 2006), opted for a nine-month postponement.

Yet despite the negative implications of its delay, “Catch and Release” isn’t wholly irredeemable. Garner is characteristically engaging as Gray Wheeler, the Boulder, Colo.-based bride whose wedding turns into a funeral when her b.f. Grady perishes during a pre-marital boating accident (alluded to only obliquely).

A maudlin intro sequence at the reception sets up key characters including the devastated Gray, Grady’s weepy mother (Fiona Shaw), and the would-be groomsmen: buffoonish Sam (Kevin Smith channeling Jack Black), sincere Dennis (Sam Jaeger) and the rakish Fritz (“Deadwood’s” Timothy Olyphant), who deals with his grief by seducing the caterer.

Unable to afford the house she and Grady had rented, Gray moves in with Sam and Dennis, who are also lodging Fritz. While this plot point accelerates the story, it begs the question: Why doesn’t Gray have girlfriends or family of her own? It’s inconceivable that a woman would undergo such a catastrophic loss without so much as a call from her mother, let alone her bridesmaids.

Once ensconced with the guys, Gray bonds with Sam and Dennis, each of whom manifests his grief differently: the former gorging himself on food and vodka, the latter throwing himself into the construction of a memorial “Peace Garden.” Though Gray initially loathes the self-centered playboy Fritz (having overheard his tryst with the caterer) surprising events — and his hitherto untapped sensitivity — will bring them together.

It’s giving little away to say that Gray discovers Grady had a secret bank account from which he made regular payments to a California massage therapist named Maureen (Juliette Lewis), who had borne his son (Joshua Friesen). Stung by that revelation (and by Maureen’s description of her as “perfect”), Gray resolves to be a little more edgy. She begins a clandestine affair with Fritz that blossoms into something unexpected. And she overcomes her resistance to the ditsy Maureen and her oh-so precious son.

One of the troubles with “Catch and Release” is that it deals with serious issues — sudden death, grief, infidelity, deception — in a fairly lighthearted way. What makes that worse is that there are a few moments when the film actually approaches some kind of emotional or dramatic truth. Olyphant and Garner generate real sparks, and their should-we-or-shouldn’t-we attraction feels authentic.

Ditto the Sam-Dennis friendship in which men unable to articulate their emotions resort to shows of physical strength. Alternatively, several running gags grow tedious.

If “Catch and Release” was a complete loss, its flaws wouldn’t be as glaring. Grant can write and shows promise as a director, but she’s not served by her material or its serio-comic tone here.

There’s no problem with her cast, however, although Lewis could have taken her ditsy persona down a notch; she’s like the choral voice that threatens to drown out the others. Garner won’t lose any fans, and Olyphant clearly has a bright future.

Tech elements are fine across the board. There’s a hip soundtrack including songs from the Lemonheads and Foo Fighters, but it sometimes feels like the songs are turned up when the story starts to falter.

Catch and Release

Production: A Sony Pictures Entertainment release of a Columbia Pictures/Relativity Media presentation of a Jenno Topping production. Produced by Topping. Executive producers, B. Casey Grant, Ryan Cavanaugh, Lynwood Spinks. Directed, written by Susannah Grant.

Crew: Camera (color), John Lindley; editor, Anne V. Coates; music, BT and Tommy Stinson; production designer, Brent Thomas; art director, Shannon Grover; set decorator, Lesley Beale; costume designer, Tish Monaghan; sound (Dolby Digital/SDDS/ DTS), Larry Sutton; assistant director, David Sardi; casting, Deborah Aquila, Tricia Wood, Jennifer Smith. Reviewed at the Grove, Los Angeles, Jan. 23, 2007. MPAA Rating: PG-13. Running time: 110 MIN.

With: Gray - Jennifer Garner Fritz - Timothy Olyphant Dennis - Sam Jaeger Sam - Kevin Smith Maureen - Juliette Lewis Mattie - Joshua Friesen Mrs. Douglas - Fiona Shaw

More Film

  • Nona

    Film Review: 'Nona'

    Twenty years and 12 features down the line, it’s still hard to peg the directorial sensibility of Michael Polish, with or without the presence of brother Mark as frequent co-writer and actor. His output has been all over the place, from early Lynchian quirkfests to the very middle-of-the-road inspirational dramedy “The Astronaut Farmer,” not to [...]

  • Pawel Pawlikowski "Cold War"

    Pawel Pawlikowski's 'Cold War' Wins for Best Film, Director at European Film Awards

    “Cold War,” Pawel Pawlikowski’s black-and-white romance set in the 1950s, scooped the prizes for best film, director and screenplay at the 31st edition of the European Film Awards on Saturday. “Cold War” star Joanna Kulig also won the award for best actress. Marcello Fonte, the star of Matteo Garrone’s “Dogman,” won for best actor. Armando Iannucci’s [...]

  • The Favourite Bohemian Rapsody Star is

    The Best Movie Scenes of 2018

    When we think back on a movie that transported us, we often focus on a great scene — or maybe the greatest scene — in it. It’s natural. Those scenes are more than just defining. They can be the moment that lifts a movie into the stratosphere, that takes it to the higher reaches of [...]

  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

    Box Office: 'Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse' Soars Toward $35-40 Million Debut

    “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” is swinging into theaters on a high note. Sony-Marvel’s latest output is launching to $42 million from 3,813 North American locations in its debut, though other more conservative estimates place that number at $35.5 million. The animated superhero story picked up $12.6 million on Friday, easily leading the pack for the weekend. [...]

  • Ventana Sur : Cinema226 Closes Four

    Cinema226 Announces Four Intl. Co-Productions, Hints at More (EXCLUSIVE)

    Mexico’s Cinema226, run by Marco Antonio Salgado and Sam Guillén, is driving into a raft of Mexico, Argentina and Spain co-productions, playing off the current vibrancy of Mexican film production funding and distribution outlets. Among the projects are titles which have been standouts at Ventana Sur’s Blood Window, the next film by Mexico-based Argentine filmmaker [...]

  • Ventana Sur Debates Gender Parity in

    Ventana Sur Debates Gender’s 50/50 in 2020 for Argentina Film Industry

    BUENOS AIRES — Despite recent gains, namely the equality pledge towards 50/50-2020 signed at the Mar del Plata Film Festival on Nov. 12, producer Magalí Nieva, pointed out that no representative from INCAA was present following the apparent resignation of its vice-president Fernando Juan Lima. “We are left without an interlocutor to discuss gender policies [...]

  • Ventana Sur Rocks with Sales, Mass

    Ventana Sur Rocks with Sales, Mass Attendance, Structural Growth

    BUENOS AIRES — Celebrating its 10th anniversary with a huge hike in attendance to over 4,000 accredited delegates, the 2018 Ventana Sur will go down in history on multiple counts: Sales and pick-ups on movies which combined social comment and entertainment value, increasingly the new foreign-language movie standard; new sections, led by a Proyecta co-production [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content