Making the Grades
All the flowers at the Douglas home should be for a wedding. Unfortunately it is a funeral the family is going through. Just before Grady Douglas and Gray Wheeler (Jennifer Garner) were to marry, the adventurous outdoorsman was killed in a sporting accident. Now instead of greeting nuptial guests, Grey endures mourners coming to pay their last respects.
The days and weeks after the interment bring even greater grief, however, as the bereaved bride discovers all kinds of new revelations about her spouse-to-be. It seems that even after a six-year relationship, there are still a few things she didn't know about the man she was going to marry. For instance, there's the secret bank account with large monthly withdrawals and a blonde, new age masseuse (Juliette Lewis) that suddenly shows up outside their door with a little boy (Joshua Friesen). There's also Fritz (Timothy Olyphant), Grady's playboy friend, who continues to hang around the house long after the memorial service is over.
Luckily, Gray doesn't have to go through the mourning or discoveries on her own. After moving in with her fiancé's former roommates, Dennis (Sam Jaeger) and Sam (Kevin Smith), she finds shoulders to cry on and listening ears. In fact, it appears every man in the movie is in love with Gray to one degree or another. Whenever she so much as tears up, they are there to serve, soothe or sex her. But rather than avoiding Grady's kind of indiscretions that caused her so much heartache, Gray heads down the same reckless path, jumping in bed with a relative stranger.
Sadly, it's not just Gray but also the film's script that is fixated on sex including discussions with several sexual slang terms and all kinds of encounters, from a brief but loud coupling in a bathroom to repeated midnight trysts depicted with plenty of shoulder and back nudity.
Another concern is alcohol consumption, which becomes a staple form of escape for several of the characters. One man, overcome with grief and guilt, mixes a lethal cocktail of liquor and sleeping pills in an apparent suicide attempt. However the serious consequences of the event are diminished by a few comedic quips and some slapstick violence. And therein lies the problem with the film. It neither sustains enough heartfelt conflict to be an earnest drama, nor does it maintain enough of a touching love story to be a classic romantic comedy.
Instead, like the fly fishermen in the film, Catch and Release simply plays with audiences---offering viewers a variety of new lures for the forlorn Gray. Yet when she finally does fall hook, line and sinker for one option, moviegoers may be left with the unsatisfying sense that the best bait got away.