Gray and Grady’s wedding day plans were set in motion. The flowers, the caterer, the guest list all set. With the big day almost here, the bride and groom were ready for the day to arrive so that they could become husband and wife. But, when the day finally came, instead of relishing in the events, Gray would instead have to attend her fiancé’s funeral as Grady died unexpectedly in a boating accident just days before.
Gray (Jennifer Garner) is living in the moment at this point, relishing in her own grief. She doesn’t know how she will move forward without Grady. She isn’t even sure how to survive his funeral. She takes a powder from accepting condolences and hides out in an upstairs bathroom in the empty bathtub with the shower curtain drawn so she can cry privately in peace. She regrets not locking the door when Grady’s best friend, Fritz (Timothy Olyphant), busts in to have a tryst with one of the servers working for the caterer; unaware they had company until it’s all over. Gray never cared for Fritz, and he certainly didn’t win points with this scene.
Days after the funeral, Gray tries to pick up the pieces. She and Grady had just rented an apartment for which she couldn’t afford on her own. She wasn’t married to Grady, and there was no will, so she wasn’t entitled to his estate. Grady’s roommates Sam and Dennis (Kevin Smith and Sam Jaegar) step in to give her support in her grief, inviting her to stay in Grady’s room for as long as she needs to. But, Fritz has also moved in, which has made things uncomfortable, especially after she found out whenever Grady went away on business, he had been carrying on an affair and might have even fathered a kid! And guess what, the mistress (Juliette Lewis) conveniently comes calling looking for Grady! Not to worry, as it goes with lazy storytelling and thin characters, everything ties up nicely at the end with a couple embracing on a sunkissed beach.
In case you didn’t “catch” it, Catch and Release is a very derivative movie and attempts to tick all formulaic rom-com boxes. When I read this film considered itself romantic, but began its story at a funeral, I thought it better have something feel-good to lighten up the mood. I have to say the story limped there. The plot aside, I had a hard time feeling anything for the one-dimensional, paper-thin characters. Jennifer Garner’s character is a great example: we never learn anything about her, really. Her fiance just died, yet we never see her family. Not that I am asking for another chick BFF film (where’s Molly Shannon?), but I found it weird Gray is devoid of any female support system the entire movie. She pretty much spent her time with a group of clichéd trope dudes.
The other characters in Catch and Release are your typical stereotypes. We have jokey Sam (Smith): the creative fat guy who can’t stop eating, as well as serious Dennis (Jaeger); the down-to-earth one who never gets his way and is secretly is love with Gray. We have the “suave” Fritz (Olyphant) who is the tall drink of Chlamydia and every girl’s love interest. Fritz is the one character I had the most trouble with. I hate it when there is one good-looking dude in a film who somehow beds ALL THE LADIES, including the ones who know better, simply because he exists. To that end, he was the most devoid of a personality of anyone in the story… Lastly, we have the mistress, Maureen (Juliette Lewis), who comes into town looking for Grady needing money. If there was one character that can infuse some interest into a generally bad film, it would be this one. I know I haven’t talked much about her in the plot, but Maureen was a surprisingly good laugh track to an otherwise plodding plot. Juliette Lewis always puts a quirky spin on any role she plays and it was good to see her make a mark on a seriously flawed film.
One might think Catch and Release would benefit from a little reworking. I just think the film is too imbued in clichés to really make a mark.
Catch and Release