The odd combination of Jennifer Garner, Timothy Olyphant and Kevin Smith star in Catch and Release, a romance-comedy-drama that doesn't really fit the mold of any one kind of film yet never branches far enough out to be original, either.
Garner plays Gray Wheeler, a woman whose fiancé has recently passed away and who has moved in with two of his good friends (Smith and Sam Jaeger), and his rebellious brother, Fritz. Throw in a woman (Juliette Lewis) who claims that her son is that of her dead fiancé's, and we have ourselves the set up for the story that progresses. Gray and Fritz start to fool around, Gray begins to realize that the man she loved wasn't the man she thought, Gray learns that one of her longtime friends is in love with her, and that Kevin Smith can be surprisingly effective as someone other than Silent Bob.
There's nothing particularly wrong with Catch and Release, and in fact, it exceeded expectations. I was expecting a rather dull and uninteresting story about a woman trying to find her way after the death of her almost-husband, but in reality the movie is fairly entertaining. It switches genres quite frequently and doesn't always blend them seamlessly, but that's not that big of a deal; the movie feels a bit more real as a result. There are plenty of lighthearted scenes, but then it may throw a curveball and get serious all of a sudden.
Smith is the highlight of the film, as he makes laughs out of scenes where other actors couldn't. Beyond that, the cast is all respectable though not particularly memorable. Garner is good, but not great, and Olyphant is likable but underdeveloped. The movie offers us a snapshot of these characters' lives but never truly develop them, and the two central characters, the ones who fall in love and are pivotal to the outcome of the movie don't really have the chemistry to capture the audience's attention. I felt like the relationship between Garner and Olyphant was an afterthought, something that was lingering in the background but never was given enough time to flesh it out.
The other problem with Catch and Release is that it just doesn't offer anything new. It is not your standard romantic-comedy-drama, but it still has nothing remarkably memorable about it. The movie's done and I can barely remember how it ended. What's that say about it?
Catch and Release is an okay movie and is by no means a waste of time, but once its done, you won't remember it again until you see it in the bargain bin a few years down the line.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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