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CATCH AND RELEASE

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Jennifer Garner, Timothy Olyphant, Kevin Smith, Sam Jaeger Fiona Shaw, Juliette Lewis
Director: Susannah Grant
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.40:1, Full Screen 1.33:1
Studio: Sony Home Entertainment
Features: See Review
Length: 112 Minutes
Release Date: May 8, 2007

“I owe you an apology.”

“Just one?”

“For ruining the funeral.”

“Yeah, if it hadn’t been for you, that would’ve been one great day.”

Film ***

If any genre is in need of touches of originality, it’s the romantic comedy. Catch and Release is a film with such touches. If you saw the trailer, you may have gotten the hint of a conventional romantic comedy. But the film itself has a lot more to offer.

Written and directed by Susannah Grant, who previously penned the screenplay for In Her Shoes, the movie opens on something of a tragic note. Gray Wheeler (Jennifer Garner) has just suffered a great loss, as her fiancé has died shortly before their wedding date. From the film’s opening shot, we get a great sense that Gray is devastated beyond words.

The heart of the story is Gray trying to put her life back together in the wake of her loss. She finds comfort in the company of her two closest friends, Sam (Kevin Smith) and Dennis (Sam Jaeger), whom she is living with. And there’s one more temporary resident in the same house, Fritz (Timothy Olyphant), a womanizer who the best friend of Gray’s fiancé.

But the story gets more interesting when Gray realizes the man she was about to marry was keeping a number of secrets from her. It starts with some suspicious bank statements, where there were monthly withdrawals in the thousands. Gray soon finds out that her fiancée had already fathered a child some years ago.

And as if that isn’t enough to deal with, Gray soon develops an attraction towards Fritz, even though he knew many of her fiancé’s secrets. And the complications don’t end there. Sam is a nervous wreck who attempts suicide at one point, while Dennis eventually opens up about having feelings for Gray.

Though it runs a bit too long and it contains more subplots than it needs, Catch and Release is for the most part a breezy and highly enjoyable dramedy. The cast elevates the material as high as possible, with Jennifer Garner delivering her best performance yet. And Kevin Smith fans will be happy to know that he’s just as energetic a supporting player as it is a writer/director.

Though at times it feels a bit clichéd, Catch and Release is a cut above the normal romantic comedy fare. I appreciated the unusual places it went with the story. Those qualities overshadow any areas that come across as predictable. It’s a good little film that’s a perfect date flick, as both the guy and the girl will find something to catch and enjoy!

Video ****

A superb video handling from Sony. The anamorphic picture is absolutely terrific. It presents a thoroughly clear and crisp picture with beautiful colors to boot. Full Screen version is also included.

Audio ***

The 5.1 is strong enough for this dialogue oriented film. The presentation gets a big boost from it’s terrific soundtrack, including songs by the likes of Foo Fighters, Joshua Radin and Death Cab for Cutie. Dialogue delivery is tremendously clear as well.

Features **

We get two commentary tracks; one with writer/director Susannah Grant and Kevin Smith, the second with Grant and cinematographer John Lindley, as well as several previews for additional Sony releases.

Summary:

Catch and Release is a most pleasant and different kind of romantic comedy with an outstanding cast and some nice twists on the genre. Jennifer Garner is enough to reel me in, but the material surrounding her happens to be quite good as well!

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