Gray Wheeler (Garner) swaps her wedding for a wake when her fiancé meets his maker just days before she gets to say, "I do.” Strapped for cash, she moves in with his two best friends and slowly starts to discover that her would-be hubbie was hiding a wealth of secrets.
As a genre, the rom-com is not inherently evil. Movies like Notting Hill, Jerry Maguire and Pretty Woman have managed to raise as many titters as they have tears, and we thank them for it. Catch And Release, however, manages to miss on the majority of levels it’s aiming to hit. Too lightweight for drama, not quite funny enough for comedy, not enough heart for tears, it chugs along predictably, and at some length, on cast-iron rails that manage to steer it away from any real sense of poignancy, insight or plain laughs.
Set in the scenic surrounds of Boulder, Colorado, the movie opens with a funeral, and Gray Wheeler (Jennifer Garner) eulogising the loss of her perfect man. Unable to afford the lease on their new home she inexplicably opts to room with her dearly departed’s two best friends, the secretly pining Dennis (Sam Jaeger) and hungry slacker Sam (Kevin Smith, in a rare and impressive acting-only role).
They’re soon joined by Fritz (Timothy Olyphant), a sleazy Malibu-dwelling commercials director. “I never understood why he was friends with you,” Gray tells Fritz, and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that their initial dislike may not last long. Along the way, we discover that her perfect man had a secret stash of cash, and was supporting New Age psycho-babbler Maureen (Juliette Lewis). You can probably guess why.
From there you can just zone out as Maureen redeems herself, Fritz turns out not to be so bad after all and Gray pouts a lot over her short-lived grief; all while Smith and Lewis are left to keep up the negligible ‘com’ side of the business. On the plus side, freed of any responsibility to keep an eye on the plot, the viewer could instead keep busy playing Six Degrees... Jennifer Garner is married to Ben Affleck, good pal of Kevin Smith, who has a part in Live Free Or Die Hard, which stars Timothy Olyphant: Shazam! — you’ve just got through another few minutes of the movie.
It’s not that writer and first-time director Susannah Grant hasn’t managed to hit her mark before. Her scripts for Erin Brockovich and, to a lesser degree, In Her Shoes, got her noticed for all the right reasons. The generic Catch And Release, however, fails to rise above mediocrity.
A film with a fishing metaphor for a title should have come with sharper hooks.
Reviewed by Tony Horkins