Get up and leave the theater about 10 minutes before “Catch and Release” ends. You’ll avoid the arbitrary romantic comedy ending and have the satisfaction of watching a surprisingly decent film about coping with loss. It’s too bad that a decent dramedy is corrupted by a romance that is both awkward and taken too far. Both Jennifer Garner and Timothy Olyphant are poorly cast in their roles. Garner doesn’t seem comfortable in her own skin let alone that of Gray Wheeler, a woman coping with the death of her fiancé who then discovers said fiancé has a child and was cheating on her. And Olyphant, though very well-dressed, just isn’t right for any role that isn’t evil or creepy so he just falls flat as Fritz, the dead fiancé’s best friend.
Yet the relationship that develops between the two feels real and keeps your interest — until the oh-so-tidy last 10 minutes that is.
The rest of the casting is perfect; especially actor/director Kevin Smith whose performance as the overeating, depressed friend is endearing and heartfelt even if he is shoehorned into the role of comic relief. It’s one of those performances that would get a lot more respect in a better, more dramatic movie; instead, in a rom-com, it's simply described as “charming.” His comedic skills are right on key, especially when interacting with Juliette Lewis as Maureen, the mother of the dead fiancé's son, Mattie.
Smith's developing relationship with Mattie and Maureen also feels real and keeps your interest — until those pesky last 10 minutes when everything just has to come together.
The movie doesn't always work, but the cast does. Whether it's Garner and Olyphant falling into each others arms to relieve their grief or shock over the secrets revealed, or Smith and co-star Sam Jaeger verbally sparring over nothing, it’s all far deeper than anything one should expect from what the movie trailers are advertising.
Well, that is until those last 10 minutes, when "Catch and Release" gets as shallow as the river where the characters go fly fishing, for no other reason than to justify the film's title.
<1b>— Matthew Razak