Most romantic film #62: Catch & Release (2006)

Since it is Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d throw out another romantic comedy I really like, one that few have seen, if I don’t miss my guess. This is the 2006 film, CATCH & RELEASE starring Jennifer Garner and Timothy Olyphant.

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Fair warning: I am head over heels for Olyphant. I fell for him as the heroic and conflicted Sheriff Seth Bullock in DEADWOOD and now I just glue myself to the TV every week for the FX series JUSTIFIED, where he plays U.S Marshal Raylan Givens. Oh, Lordie. Serious crush.

Olyphant as Bullock

Olyphant as Bullock

Olyphant as Givens

Olyphant as Givens

I also like Garner, who is a charming and talented actress.

Okay. CATCH & RELEASE is a simple film about a woman mourning her fiance, who was killed on the eve of their wedding (in a stupid bachelor’s party idea gone wrong). Garner’s character Gray is bereft when Grady dies, and finds her life overturned by the non-marriage: the house they rented, the friends they shared, the life they would have lived are impossible for her. She moves into his room with his friends Dennis (Sam Jaeger) who was also Grady’s business partner, and Sam (Kevin Smith), who writes copy for Celestial Seasonings teas. The third amigo Fritz (Olyphant) is a commercial director in L.A., visiting for the wedding/funeral. Dennis is in love with Gray (Garner), Sam is a determind under-achiever, and Fritz is a player who is both attracted to Gray and privy to a secret that Grady kept from Gray.

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Eventually, the secret shows up, in the form of a masseuse (Juliette Lewis) and her son, who she claims was Grady’s kid. All parties (including Grady’s mother, played by Fiona Shaw) must face up to the truth and their feelings and get on with life without Grady.

Which means Fritz and Gray have to resolve their anger, attraction and confusion.

Garner is beautiful and charming in the role of the heartbroken fiancee who discovers that her future husband was an unknown kind of guy. Despite her natural beauty, the film doesn’t bank on it but allows Garner to do more than look pretty. Olyphant is good in the role of player, as if he was a shallow guy who didn’t care about much. We find out he cares about a great deal, and has depths no one really noticed.

If there is a flaw in this film, it is Lewis’s portrayal of some kind of New Age freak. Her Maureen–apparently in contrast to Gray’s depth and realness–is a flighty, shallow, silly woman who I wouldn’t trust with a Chihuahuha, let alone a smart and funny child. Yikes!

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Ignore all that (and the unreality of the love story with Sam) and pay attention to the spine of the film. This is a little gem that suggests we all have secrets and shady sides, but can be loved and lovable nonetheless.

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