Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Jennifer Garner, Timothy Olyphant, Sam Jaeger, Kevin Smith, Juliette Lewis, Joshua Friesen, Fiona Shaw
Written by: Susannah Grant
Directed by: Susannah Grant
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual content, language and some drug use
Running Time: 111
Date: 10/20/2006
IMDB

Catch and Release (2007)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Passion Fishy

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

They look like romantic comedies, but they're really romantic dramas, or "chick flicks," and they have names like The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood or Hope Floats or Steel Magnolias. Usually someone falls in love, yes, but someone else has to die first. Apparently potty-mouthed comic book nerd (writer/director) Kevin Smith and wild girl Juliette Lewis decided they could appear more sensitive by appearing in this latest sample, Catch and Release. It's a good thing they did, because their energy is the only thing that saves the film.

Oscar-nominated screenwriter Susannah Grant (Erin Brockovich) makes her directorial debut and casts Jennifer Garner as the oddly named Gray Wheeler. Gray's fiancé dies on a fishing trip just before their wedding, though thankfully the movie doesn't show any of this. To make matters worse, she finds out that the guy was rich and was secretly supporting another girlfriend and a son. Garner has always had a fragility about her that never quite fits into her superhero roles, but here it comes out in gushers. She uses her eyes beautifully to teeter on the verge of tears or exhaustion, and sometimes even a tiny moment of joy.

Unable to afford her deluxe new flat, she moves in with her beau's fishing buddies, the whiny, girly Dennis (Sam Jaeger), the happy-go-lucky Sam (Kevin Smith) and just visiting from Los Angeles, the pretty boy with an even odder name, Fritz (Timothy Olyphant). Fritz and Gray (oh, my...) find themselves mutually attracted, even though Olyphant has about as much magnetism as a table. He may as well have been cut out from a fashion magazine, scanned in and computer-animated for all the fire he generates.

Olyphant (TV's "Deadwood") normally has a sinister side that Grant totally ignores. In fact she ignores anything remotely tied to instinct or organic character flow. Rather, she concentrates on hitting all the appropriate emotional checkpoints that Hollywood screenplays usually require. It's not much of a revelation that Dennis has harbored a secret crush on Gray for years, but Grant plays it as if it were.

But Smith -- aside from a ludicrous hospital scene -- finds a perfect fit for his brainy clowning, and Lewis, who, let's not forget is the only one in this cast with an Oscar nomination, has her perfect role as a vegan masseuse, a bit flighty but not without a certain warmth. In spite of the material, Lewis really finds a natural rhythm to her character, almost as if she were in a separate movie. Too bad she isn't.

AskMen.com: Catch and Release

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