Little To Laugh At Here
Thinking about weddings usually makes us smile -- even if we haven’t had one of our own. But in Catch and Release, a woman faces tragedy instead of joy on the day scheduled for her wedding. Yes, there’s a ceremony being held, but it’s her fiancé’s funeral, not the couple’s nuptials. If you expect this film to be typical romantic comedy, you’re in for a big disappointment.
Catch and Release stars Jennifer Garner as Gray, a bereaved woman who seeks comfort from her late fiancé’s grieving fishing buddies. Timothy Olyphant (the steely-eyed Marshall Bullock in HBO’s Deadwood) portrays Fritz, one of those pals. It’s not long before these two become attracted to each other. But, of course, there are obstacles to this romance -- or we wouldn’t have a movie, now would we?
Gray has always viewed Fritz as an irresponsible playboy and VERY unreliable. On the day of the funeral, she watches him do something deplorable that reinforces this opinion. Also, Fritz happens to be keeping secrets about his old friend from Gray -- secrets involving the deceased’s affair and his out-of-wedlock child. When Gray finds out about those secrets and lies, she’s devastated -- and angry. Luckily, there’s more to Fritz than meets the eye.
Garner and Olyphant do an excellent job showing the push-pull involved in romantic relationships. But I probably should confess my bias about Jennifer Garner. Her acting intrigues me -- whether she’s doing comedy in 13 Going on 30 or busting chops in action-packed dramas like Elektra or Alias on TV. And I’m happy to see Timothy Olyphant come across as such a delightful charmer in his first romantic leading role.
However, though billed as a romantic dramedy (a combined comedy and drama), there’s certainly not much comedy in Catch and Release. To me, the story seems a lot more dramatic than humorous. It’s about a woman coming to grips with the death of the man she was supposed to marry, for gosh sakes -- a man she didn’t know as well as she thought she did. And many scenes, especially with supporting characters (including Kevin Smith as one of the grieving friends) appear too contrived.
Still, although extremely slow moving and hard to sit through, Catch and Release focuses on characters who genuinely care about each other -- a refreshing approach. It also reminds us that nobody’s perfect. After all, a true friend is someone who knows all our faults and likes us just the same. Right?
(Released by Sony Pictures Entertainment and rated "PG-13" for sexual content, language and some drug use.)