Catch and Release (2006)

Catch and Release
Director: Susannah Grant
Writer: Susannah Grant
Cast: Jennifer Garner, Timothy Olyphant, Sam Jaeger, Kevin Smith, Juliette Lewis, Joshua Friesen, Fiona Shaw, Tina Lifford, Georgia Craig
Seen on: 12./13.12.2022

Gray (Jennifer Garner) was supposed to marry Grady, but just a few days before the wedding, Grady passed away. Now, instead of a wedding, she is attending a funeral and her life has completely fallen apart. Since she can’t afford the home they were planning on moving into together, she moves instead into Grady’s room at the house he shared with Dennis (Sam Jaeger) and Sam (Kevin Smith). Also staying in that house is Grady’s friend Fritz (Timothy Olyphant) who usually lives in L.A. but came to town for the funeral and is a little reluctant to leave. As Gray goes through Grady’s stuff, she realizes that there were quite a few secrets that he kept from her, putting their life together into question.

I was very positively surprised by Catch and Release. I expected a kind of standard RomCom (and those are great, don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t have watched it if they weren’t), but there is a somewhat mature and definitely bittersweet tone here that I didn’t expect, but liked a lot.

The movie poster showing a shelf filled with wedding and fishing stuff, plus framed photos of the main characters in the film.

Catch and Release is a film about grief and moving on, and how relationships can change even after they’re over. And much like starting anew, the film mixes the sadness and pain that comes with saying good-bye with the joy and general “betterness” a fresh beginning promises. This might be a little uneven at times, but I found it incredibly engaging and emotionally very honest.

There are a few things that fall flat, especially when it comes to the comedic timing. Jokes don’t always land where they’re supposed to. Smith’s character is a little too obnoxious, and the film invites us a tad too much to laugh about Juliette Lewis’ Maureen. But most jokes do land, and the film finds its way back to its emotional core every time.

Fritz (Timothy Olyphant) walking in on Gray (Jennifer Garner) who is wearing her wedding dress in a storage unit.

Even though the film isn’t a straight up romantic comedy, it does include many hallmarks, if not to say tropes, of the genre and generally falls into that category. As much as it seems at odds with the theme of grief, I really enjoyed the jusxtaposition. And I found Garner and Olyphant charming and good together. There were a couple of moments that might have been a little too on the nose, trope-wise, but I didn’t mind.

I just found something resonating in me with the film, despite the fact that I have never lost a romantic partner or re-evaluated a relationship to the extent that Gray has to go through. Still, the film struck a fine chord that will keep sounding for a while yet for me.

Gray (Jennifer Garner) looking very confused and a little worried.

Summarizing: a little unusual in a good way.

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