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Catch and Release (3/10)

by Tony Medley

Writer-Director Susannah Grant was responsible for the script for In Her Shoes (2005), a very good chick flick. She’s done it again. This is a chick flick, all right. The only problem is that all the chicks are guys. And therein lies the rub. Grant just doesn’t create believable male characters. These guys are all chicks who need a shave.

The plot is that the fiancé of Gray (Jennifer Garner) has died, leaving her in the lurch at the altar. He’s got three friends, Fritz (Timothy Olyphant), Dennis (Sam Jaeger), and Sam (Kevin Smith). Sam is the chick who is basically asexual, unattractive, full of quips. Dennis is the unrequited lover who loves from afar. Fritz (whose teeth are so white the audience needs sunglasses every time he smiles, which is all the time) is the guy for whom Gray falls. You know she’s going to fall for him because she hates him the first time we see them together (while he’s jumping another girl he’s just met while Gray is hiding in the bathtub).

The repartee among them all is nauseating. Poor Smith, who has to mouth all the poorly-conceived bon mots Grant puts in Sam’s mouth. She has made Sam a fat, bearded, slob. He dresses sloppy and is always eating. He is so unattractive there is nothing remotely appealing about him, even though he has all the lines that are intended to be funny. His character appears in virtually every chick flick extant.

The script isn’t the only thing that’s wrong here. A romantic comedy should be romantic, funny, and not drag on and on and on. Strike three. There’s little chemistry between Garner and Olyphant. Both apparently think that romantic acting is limited to smiling a lot, and everything else will take care of itself. This film proves that wrong in spades.

The actor in the film who redeems himself admirably is Jaeger, who plays the unassertive Dennis perfectly. He’s the only guy in the movie who is believable as a man, regardless of how good-looking Olyphant is. These people are all probably competent actors, but they are done in by the script. I can’t imagine Brad Pitt or Clark Gable or Tony Randall uttering some of these lines. The dialogue among these girlymen is so unmanly and unrealistic it increases the cringe factor geometrically.

But not everything about this film is bad. The cinematography takes advantage of the Boulder location for the film to shoot some impressive scenery.

January 23, 2007