February 1, 2007

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Catch and Release (PG-13)
Jennifer Garner loses her fiancť but is comforted in the arms of Deadwoodís Seth Bullock in the drippy neverending romantic comedy Catch and Release.

This is the kind of movie built for my hating it (slow, predictable, featuring a voiceover, inventive neither in plot nor dialogue, featuring an irksome female lead) so I feel like I should start off my making a list of things I liked about it.

1.) Timothy Olyphant. Olyphant, the aforementioned Sheriff Bullock, was fantastic on Deadwood. His character was moral and brave but also a hothead, to the unending dismay of charming devil Al Swearengen. Here, heís sort of a rich weenie who isnít satisfied with his cushy job and his beautiful Malibu house but also needs, ya know, more in his life, more even than the string of one-night-stands or (in the case of a brief encounter with the caterer in the bathroom at his friendís funeral, five-minute stands). He needs purpose. Like a girl. Like the one engaged to his now-deceased friend. Grey (Garner) starts of the movie hating Fritz but as she begins to uncover hidden parts of her fianceís life, she begins to lean on Fritz and they develop a friendship which quickly gets all kissy-face. Because, weenie-ish though Fritz (Olyphantís character) is, heís still hot.

2.) Kevin Smith. Smith, he of Silent Bob and the View Askewniverse, has a supporting manís-gotta-pay-his-bills role in Catch and Release as Sam, a guy who works at the brilliantly-product-placed Celestial Seasonings tea company and who was one of Greyís fiancťís two housemates. Heís the tubby depressed one who makes the funny jokes, drinks too much, makes a half-hearted stab at overdosing but eventually gets to show his sweet heart. Yes, thatís sappy and a bit ďughĒ but he does get the best of the movieís mediocre lines.

3.) Boulder, Colorado. This is where the movie takes place. Itís all very bright and outdoorsy and granola but in a comfortable yuppie way. Iíve never wanted to visit Boulder before but after seeing this movie and viewing all the lovely Boulder scenery, I wouldnít mind spending a few days there.

4.) Blue. This is the color that Grey, after moving into her fianceís room in the boy house (she canít afford the apartment they just rented), paints his room in a fit of dealing-with-loss-ness. Itís not a bad shade. Iím thinking about doing a little painting around my house and I was actually considering a similar shade, Iím glad I got to see how that color looked up on the wall.

5.) Maureen (Juliette Lewis). Actually, I didnít like her character at all. She plays a massage therapist who, Grey finds out shortly after her fianceís funeral, was also his girlfriend (when he went to L.A. for his many business trips) and possibly the mother of his child. She shows up just as Grey is learning other things about her fiancť ó that he had a big ole savings account with something like a million dollars in it, for one. Turns out Grey didnít really know this man with whom she would have spent the rest of her life all that well. What I like about Maureen, who shows up with a bunch of talk about chi and auras, is that while the movie sort of makes her seem like a free spirit it also lets her remain a screw-up. Thatís nice.

The rest of the movie is the flavorless mushy oatmeal that it appears to be in the trailers. Grey learns to move on with life after losing a man who she loved but didnít know. Garner plays this kind of wimpy role with the same spineless girlishness with which she charmed, well, someone Iím sure in 13 Going On 30. Personally, I prefer the take-no-crap, emotionally messed up Jennifer Garner of the first year of Alias. Something about her nice-girl-features juxtaposed with the kicks to the jaw just sort of worked. That she will probably spend the next five years in these watery, forgettable roles is disappointing. I hope for her sake that the money is good and that kissing Olyphant is as fun as it looks. C-

Rated PG-13 for sexual content, language and some drug use. Written and directed by Susannah Grant, Catch and Release is two hours and four minutes and is distributed in wide release by Sony