Garner's Gray Day Fishing
Released in 2007 "Catch and Release", the Jennifer Garner lead romantic comedy, is a movie which is both witty and moving as it delivers a story about moments in life which catch you by surprise. It's full of those moments, which draw the audience in despite being at times unevenly paced as well as unbelievably cheesy. As such "Catch and Release" is one of those movies which tries to be different from the norm and for the most achieves it but still will only truly find affection with those who enjoy romantic comedies.
After the sudden death of her fiancée, Gray (Jennifer Garner - Elektra) has the unhappy event of holding his funeral on the day they were due to get married. Shocked by his sudden death and understandably depressed she decides to move in with their joint friends Sam (Kevin Smith - Die Hard 4.0
) and Dennis (Sam Jaeger), rather than staying in the house they shared. As she tries to come to terms with her loss she starts to discover that the boyfriend she thought was perfect may not have been as perfect as she thought as secrets are discovered that turn her life on its head. But with the help of her friends she tries to understand all that is unravelling before her so that she can continue with rebuilding her life.
One of the best things about "Catch and Release" is that it is a creeper of a movie, it starts off rather unevenly mixing emotion with comedy which gives it a strange feel as if it could venture off on a tangent at any moment, but then the longer you watch the more you are drawn in to what is happening and ultimately enjoying it. Along the way it rises and crashes as the good is followed by, well the less than good, as clever writing delivers an emotionally charged scene followed by some corny dialogue causing it to shift between dramatic to cheesy in a blink of an eye. For all that is bad about "Catch and Release" and there are several scenes which leave you questioning why, the good parts, the clever writing, the twist on the norm, the developed characters and the use of scenery out weigh all which is wrong to make it an entertaining movie that draws you into how those involved feel.
Although completely enjoyable "Catch and Release" suffers from one major flaw, one which stops the movie being anything more than average despite attempts to be different, and that is the relationship which forms between Gray and Fritz. For a start it never feels natural, which to start with is understandable but as the movie and the relationships grows it never really becomes convincing. In fact it feels a little rough, even rushed in places just so that we can have a cliché ending to the movie. It is this storyline which causes most of the issues when it comes to the pacing of the movie as often a bubbly scene will be followed by one which focuses on their relationship and it grinds to a halt. It's not all bad when it comes to this element, and there are moments where you are drawn to the edge of your seat waiting for a kiss, perfectly timed if not a little bit predictable in execution.
But one of the good things about "Catch and Release" is that it tries to combine several different elements to generate a wider appeal, not always successfully but good enough to make it interesting. One moment the storyline follows a romantic line, then the next a buddy movie with two single men living together and then also dramatic as revelations are revealed. It never focuses on any of them with the lead character being the link between all of them, but in many ways it doesn't need to. The fact that it tries to be all things makes it stand out from your average romantic comedy and with the various story elements it allows it to be funny and dramatic on many levels. What it does mean is at times it becomes disjointed but the fact that all the different elements deliver something entertaining and often captivating makes up for it.
Whilst the storyline may rise and crash the one consistent aspect of the movie is Jennifer Garner's performance as Gray, a wonderful character whose journey of both discovery and living makes "Catch and Release" really worth watching. Garner's performance is not the over the top funny or melodramatic caricature which tend to fill these sorts of movie but one which is honestly funny and easy to relate to thanks to her deft, subtle hand in creating an enjoyable character. It's very easy to say that it is Garner's performance which stands out from some very enjoyable yet average ones and is the force which makes all these story elements work together.
As for the supporting performances from the likes of Timothy Olyphant, Kevin Smith, Sam Jaeger and Juliette Lewis, well they are good each bringing something different to the movie but each being over shadowed by Garner. Even though they are over shadowed it is not down to poor characters, in fact "Catch and Release" has a wonderful and varied selection of characters which fit perfectly with the various story elements, especially Kevin Smith who is hilarious in a "Chandler Bing" sort of way as one of the house mates.
What this all boils down to is that "Catch and Release" is a surprising movie which not so much creeps along but creeps up on you as you become more involved in the unravelling storylines. It's not a great movie, in fact due to certain flaws it is just an average one, but thanks to Garner's wonderful performance and the fact that for the most it tries to be different "Catch and Release" is a pleasure to watch with its mix of emotion and comedy.