Catch and Release

February, 2007, Comedy

Directed by:Susannah Grant

Starring:Jennifer Garner, Timothy Olyphant, Kevin Smith, Sam Jaeger, and Juliette Lewis

Catch & Release

Artists who get their start in television often have trouble making a successful transition from the little box to the big screen. Such is the case with this pedestrian romantic comedy from screenwriter Susannah Grant, (Eric Brockovich, In Her Shoes) which fails to capture the energy evidenced by her earlier screenplays in this, her directorial debut. Working with stars from television series’ apparently doesn’t help either; Jennifer Garner, star of the highly successful A.B.C. series Alias and Timothy Olyphant, the taciturn sheriff of H.B.O.’s acclaimed Deadwood  provide no on screen chemistry despite the clever premise of the movie’s storyline. Is it possible that certain actors and actresses just aren’t cut out for films?

Garner plays Gray Wheeler, an attractive young woman about to wed; unfortunately, her fiancé, who runs a fly-fishing shop in Boulder Colorado, is killed in an accident the day before their wedding. The nuptials necessarily morph into a wake made much worse when Fritz, (her intended’s best friend) flys in from L.A. and proceeds to successfully hit on an attractive female mourner. Stunned by his insensitivity, Gray can’t understand why he stays on after the funeral until she learns that the man she was going to marry has an illegitimate son whose mother is using Fritz to seek child support from the estate.

There’s a partner in the shop, (Sam Jaeger) who moons over Gray, a doofus friend, (Kevin Smith) given to quoting epigrams from boxes of Red Zinger tea and a trashy unwed mom (Juliette Lewis) who turns out to have - - surprise - - a heart of gold. Before you can get comfortable with this sitcom-level ensemble, Gray and Fritz are in the sack, traumatizing everyone on the screen and boring everyone in the audience.

Lewis shines as a blowsy mother given to tight clothes and loose parental control, but Smith needs to select his roles with greater care lest he dissipate the counter-culture cred he built so successfully with Clerks; here he’s just a pleasant slob. Garner has the looks and wholesome charm to work in the Julia Roberts mode, but she’ll need to develop more wit and bite if she’s to make a go of it. Olyphant doesn’t register at all; he seems completely uncomfortable and the lines he’s given to work with never permit him to develop Fritz into a credible, (let alone likeable) character. 

This one has “dud” written all over it.   

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