Catch and Release
Lightweight romantic comedy
By John DeSando, WCBE's "It's Movie Time"
She has dimples in the right places, an upper lip that looks like a hammer just hit it, and acting not always superior, but she gets the best roles Hollywood can offer a young woman. As that Julia Roberts glides into middle age, her younger version, Jennifer Garner may be the heir apparent but not for her role as the heroine of Catch and Release. Susannah Grant, who penned Julia's triumphant Erin Brockovich, tries to direct Garner as Gray Wheeler, but with much less energy and a poorer script.
Wheeler has just before the wedding lost her fianc? to a skiing accident. Not a bad premise that she discovers throughout the film more than she should about his life away from her and about herself as she investigates his finances and romances. The film has nothing new to say about grief or healing, just about unchecked lusts for love and food (the latter the province of Kevin Smith, whose turn as the sloppy, overweight loveable friend, is sometimes funny, as when erotic massage therapist Maureen [Juliette Lewis] literally jumps his bones).
That Wheeler falls into the cute arms of Timothy Oliphant's Fritz is a given for this lightweight chick flick that would have us believe she would fall for a womanizer who scores a babe in the bathroom at the funeral while the grieving Wheeler listens aghast behind the shower curtain. That heavy-set Sam should overeat and have the best ironic comic lines could be predicted the minute you see Clerk's director on screen. That the Simon and Garfunkle type of music with a message should appeal to the audience of the 21st century, which may not demand character development in order to understand plot, somehow makes sense.
Catch and Release, a multiuse title referring to both the loss and a fishing motif, is a romantic comedy whose romance is low-grade (she just lost her fianc? for goodness sake) and comedy low-ball. Witnessing this failure should make you as sick as Sam after binge eating bags of potato chips.
John DeSando teaches film at Franklin University and co-hosts WCBE 90.5's "It's Movie Time," which can be heard streaming at www.wcbe.org Fridays at 3:01 pm and 8:01 pm and on demand anytime. Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.RR.com