Catch and Release
Catch and Release
has the worst "meet cute" in Hollywood history. Gray (Jennifer Garner)
is a woman whose fiancé has just died mysteriously (it seems to have had
something to do with a rafting trip.) At the funeral, she can't handle
the whole thing and therefore hides in bathroom – sobbing quietly in the
bathtub, behind the shower curtain. Suddenly the door opens (hasn't
she ever heard of a lock?) and one of her former fiancé's best buddies
(Timothy Olyphant) named Fritz (Fritz??!!) deals with the death in his own
personal way – by having a cheap fling on the sink with the caterer.
(The woman keeps moaning to him as they have sex, "Sock it to me. Sock
it to me. Sock it to me. Sock it to me. Sock it to me."
I thought I was in a time warp to an early 70s Flip Wilson routine.)
Then when they are done, the caterer leaves, but the friend hangs in the
bathroom for a smoke. Finally, unwilling to wait any longer, Gray
tosses the shower curtain open, steps out, flashes Fritz a look to kill and
storms out of the room.
Okay, it is not technically
a "meet cute" in the traditional Hollywood sense, because the characters
supposedly knew each other and felt mutual dislike even before the
unexpected bathroom rendez-vous. Still it is where we, as the
audience, meet them. You see two characters
thrown together by fate like that and feel the genuine hostility and loathing
between them – you know that they will be in bed together by half-way through
the film. Just the fact that it happens a matter of days after the man
she was going to marry (and his best friend) dies – well that makes this
movie both a little inappropriate and kind of icky.
Of course writer/director
Susannah Grant – who also wrote the Julia Roberts hit Erin Brockovich,
which was greatly overrated and rather inappropriate on its own terms
(Your kids may be dying, but I think I can get you some big money if you
sue...) – keeps trying to stack the deck so that this storyline doesn't
seem quite so heartless.
So, suddenly, after six
years together, it turns out this guy had a whole other life which Gray was
never allowed into. Turns out he was rich, but no one knew.
Also, while in Los Angeles visiting Fritz, he had an affair with a goofy
new-age massage therapist (Juliette Lewis.) And with that girl,
well... he may just have fathered the world's worst-behaved four-year-old
boy (Joshua Friesen).
Therefore, it's only
natural to fall in love with your dead fiancé's friend, weeks after you were
supposed to be married.
Jennifer Garner, who can be
charming and sweet as a comic actress, does her best with this dead-end
role, but it's a lost cause. This is particularly evident in a scene
in which all the friends are having an evening barbeque and Gray just
suddenly starts blurting out a series of personal secrets, all the while
trying to keep it light and a little zany. Her friends, and the
audience, squirm uncomfortably as she essentially melts down and gives out
all sorts of information never wanted – though she tries to keep it cute
and frisky by making weird faces and little sound effects like "ta-da" to
punctuate her points.
Olyphant has more to work
with – at least his character makes some sense – but we never quite
understand what he sees in this neurotic mourning girl.
In the meantime, comic
relief is provided by the corpse's other two best buds (and roommates.)
Sam Jaeger is Dennis – the uptight, shy friend. Turns out that he has
been harboring a secret passion for Gray all of the years he has known her.
(Ooh, didn't see that coming... yawn...)
Sam is the fat, jovial
friend. Director Kevin Smith is actually rather good in the role –
his acting as Silent Bob in his own films has never really been all that
good, but with actual dialogue, even if it isn't always great, it turns out
Smith is a pretty good light actor. He does some great topical
references and there are some reasonable running gags about his job with
Celestial Seasonings, though they eventually overstay their welcome.
There are lots of
Three's Company-style complications. Lots of people overhearing
(or reading) things they aren't supposed to. Misunderstandings are not
discussed, Feelings are hurt. Harsh words are spoken.
People get sappily nostalgic for a dead man they realize they never really
knew. There is even an out-of-left-field suicide attempt.
Essentially, though, it's
all about the happy ending. Gray and Fritz realize they love one
another. The dead fiancé's cold mother turns out to be human.
The crushing roommate learns to live on his own. The boy wasn't the
dead man's son. Even the fat roommate and the crazy massage
therapist/former mistress find love.
I apologize to anyone who
feels that these are spoilers. Normally, I'd never tell how a movie
ends – but if any of these developments surprise anyone, then they have
never seen a romantic comedy. Every possible rom com cliché is there
and accounted for. They all live and love happily ever after.
The only people not happy are the ones watching.
On the plus side, the
movie, filmed in and around the lovely town of Boulder, Colorado, looks
absolutely beautiful. It's almost worth seeing Catch and
Release just for a chance to enjoy this scenic part of the world, which
is criminally under-utilized as a film location. Maybe they should
have dumped the plot and just made a travelogue.
Copyright ©2007 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved.
Posted: June 18, 2007.