Sony // 2006 // 112 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Ryan Keefer (Retired) // April 30th, 2007
"When I read the script, I was just like 'this sounds vaguely dirty.' But then somebody explained it to me that it was a fishing term. And then the movie wasn't nearly as interesting to me." -- Kevin Smith on his impressions of Catch and Release.
Susannah Grant is more widely known in Hollywood circles as a writer for such challenging films as In Her Shoes and Erin Brockovich. So in her directorial debut, surrounded by some decent acting talent, is Catch and Release actually worth your time?
In Boulder, Colorado, Gray (Jennifer Garner, Alias) is engaged to be married when her world is devastated by the death of her fiancée Grady shortly before their wedding. The shock continues when she discovers Grady had been secretly giving child support to a woman in California. His best friend, Fritz (Timothy Olyphant, Deadwood), has stayed around not only to console Gray, but also to explain Grady's secrets. Does Gray fall for the best friend? Well, set aside an hour and fifty-two minutes to find out!
I'm not entirely sure what the reasoning is behind some of these romantic comedies that wade into dark depressing waters. Perhaps it's to be the antithesis of the sugary sweet romcom, I don't know. But films like The Break Up and Catch and Release don't seem to pull it off that well. That's not to say it can't work, but when mainstream studios get involved, the urge to make things a little more conventional throw these films under the proverbial bus. Either that or the film has a tendency to revel so much in its darkness that it's too smart for the room. Oddly enough, Catch and Release seems to do both.
To its credit, the film does attempt to explore some of Gray's soul searching following the death of her loved one, and it's done in a way that makes that search fairly compelling. But when she starts to fall in love, it becomes so forced it's like putting a square peg into a round hole, with the aid of a ball peen hammer. Garner is more than capable of showing a little tenderness when she's vulnerable, but Olyphant is simply miscast in the role. I think he did a better job in the small indie film Coastlines, which oddly enough, also had a decent first and second act before dissolving into a conventional and convoluted conclusion.
In an odd stroke of casting, Kevin Smith (of Clerks lore) plays Sam, who along with Dennis (Sam Jaeger, Lucky Number Slevin), were friends of Grady's, but now acts as Gray's support system. Sam is a guy that attributes Tao-isms to boxes of tea as an occupation, but we barely see him doing that. He spends most of his time in the film drinking and eating, which is not too much of a stretch for him. Don't get me wrong, I love Smith, the chubby scatological Eugene O'Neill, and his work. But he seems to be channeling his longtime friend Jason Mewes rather than carving out a separate identityfor himself. You could probably swap Smith for Steve Zahn or David Arquette and still get the same effect. As Maureen (the mother of the Grady's child), Juliette Lewis (Natural Born Killers) plays a woman that only Juliette Lewis could possibly play, if you know what I mean.
Sony continues their habit of MPEG-2 encoded transfers, and this one looks sharp. Cinematographer John Lindley's work really shows off the breathtaking Boulder scenery. The PCM soundtrack sounds just as impressive, as a lot of songs are sprinkled through the film and they sound crystal clear with the entire film sounding well-encompassing. Supplements wise, there are two commentary tracks, one with Grant and Lindley, the other with Grant and Smith. Naturally, I lunged at the chance to listen to the Smith commentary. It's a mild bummer that it's a censored track, but still, as the commentary vet, Smith keeps the track pretty active and extremely comprehensive. It's a conversation between two filmmakers that makes you feel like you're in the same circles they run in. And as two writers, they discuss writing approaches and working with actors, so it's definitely got some value to it. Following the two commentaries is your standard making of selection that covers the cast and crew's opinions of the story and the head of the production, yet doesn't seem to include a lot of footage from its star. Audition footage and some deleted scenes follow, but they aren't really worth your time.
More an observation than a justifying (or contradicting) statement, but...Gray and Grady? Are you kidding me? I may not be in a position to make fun, but neither my wife nor I are named after a color. Gray and Fritz doesn't sound too much better, except it seems to describe a cat.
Catch and Release suffers from the same thing most of the other romcoms do, a lack of sincere believability in the pairing of its main characters. In between that and its brutally slow pacing, you're not left with a lot of breathing room to see where the secondary story may take you. For the males in the house, rent it to watch with your female half, but stick around for the Smith commentary.
The court rules that if you must catch this one, throw it into the screws of the ship so you don't have to be bothered by it again.
Review content copyright © 2007 Ryan Keefer; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 2.40:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* PCM 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 112 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
* Commentary with Writer/Director Susannah Grant and Kevin Smith
* Commentary with Writer/Director Susannah Grant and Cinematographer John Lindley
* Making-Of Featurette
* Deleted Scenes
* Audition Footage
* Official Site