A romantic dramedy from director Susannah Grant ("Erin Brockovich"), "Catch and Release" stars Jennifer Garner as Grey Wheeler (I'd say only in the movies are people named Grey Wheeler, but then I'd somehow get some upset emails from Grey Wheelers proving their existence), a woman who has lost her husband right before their wedding day. Instead of having a wedding party, she's having a funeral as the wedding cake still sits in the freezer.
As horrible as Grey feels, she sinks deeper when she finds out that her husband has been keeping the secret from her that he fathered a child with a massage therapist (Juliette Lewis) in California. There's also the matter of an inheritance she wasn't aware of, either. Grey ends up moving in with her former husband's roommates - Dennis (Sam Jaeger) and slacker Sam (Kevin Smith, hilarious). While it seems unlikely that her husband's friends would continue to be her roommates, the two very different roomies are a good pairing with Gardner.
However, there must be a new romance, and that's the one aspect of the movie that goes awry: Grey slowly finds herself falling for her husband's sleazy friend Fritz (Timothy Olyphant), who - as it turns out - isn't such a bad guy after all, despite the fact that he picked up a caterer and had a fling with her in the bathroom during the funeral for Grey's husband. Olyphant and Garner just don't have much chemistry with one another, and the romance seems rather forced.
The story has a few ups-and-downs, but the performances carry the film fairly well. Garner has a natural sweetness and appeal, offering a lovely, subtle performance as a woman coping with both the loss of her husband and the facts she never knew about him. Smith, carrying over the kind of comedic storytelling ability that one can see in his Q & A "Evening With Kevin Smith" presentations, walks away with just about all the laughs.
"Catch and Release" takes advantage of some absolutely gorgeous locations in Colorado and British Columbia, all given the spotlight by John Lindley's lovely cinematography. The beautiful scenery does provide a distraction through the middle of the movie, where "Catch" seems to drag out towards its inevitable conclusion. "Catch" does walk the line between a comedy and drama pretty successfully and, while it's never dull, the movie has a low-key, relaxed pace that's a little too relaxed at times. Cutting 15 minutes out of the film could have tightened up the film quite nicely.
"Catch and Release" has some mild issues, such as the fact that the Garner/Olyphant romance never really works all that well. However, this is otherwise a good-hearted little dramedy that offers a few good performances.
VIDEO: "Catch and Release" is presented by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen/1.33:1 full-frame, with both editions included on a dual-layer disc. The anamorphic widescreen presentation looks terrific, with pleasing sharpness and defintion. Colors are a little subdued, but seem to be going for more of a natural, realistic look than a vibrant appearance. Some slight edge halos were spotted, but no artifacting or print flaws were seen. Overall, this was a fine presentation, if not outstanding.
SOUND: "Catch and Release" is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. The film is entirely dialogue-driven, although the outdoor scenes do provide some minor ambience from the surrounds. Audio quality was fine, with clear dialogue, clean music and crisp effects. Overall, the audio delivers the expected.
EXTRAS: Actor Kevin Smith and director Susannah Grant offer one of two audio commentaries on the DVD. Smith's directorial efforts and frequent Q & A experience make him a good, entertaining interviewer and the two have a great deal of fun chatting here. There's some good chat about the film's visuals, casting (Smith talks about being on the other side of the casting process), story and more. However, the other track, with Grant and cinematographer John Lindley is where you'll find the more technical discussion of the production. Finally, we also get a handful of trailers for other titles from the studio.
Final Thoughts: "Catch and Release" has some mild issues, such as the fact that the Garner/Olyphant romance never really works all that well. However, this is otherwise a good-hearted little dramedy that offers a few good performances. The DVD offers fine audio/video quality and a couple of solid extras. A recommended date night rental.
The Film B-