Catch and Release

Do we ever know the person we love? That's the question haunting Gray Wheeler (Jennifer Garner), whose fiance dies on the eve of their wedding, leaving her to face shocks about his past, including a massage-therapist mistress (brassy Juliette Lewis), a son that may be his and a fortune he never told her about. Screenwriter Susannah Grant, Oscar-nominated for Erin Brockovich, makes her directing debut with a romance that wants to respect the mess of love and loss but winds up smoothing all its rough edges with a Hollywood pumice stone.

That's too bad. Garner knows how to blend charm and gravity. And Grant has a way with oddball humor. It's a nice touch adding Kevin Smith, who's scruffy fun as one of the dead fiance's housemates in Boulder, Colorado. But the rest plays like a setup for a sitcom. Dennis (Sam Jaeger), the other housemate, has always loved Gray from afar. And Fritz (Timothy Olyphant), in from L.A. for the funeral, turns from Mr. Shallow (he makes commercials) to Mr. Yummy when redeemed by a good woman. Gray says she hates fishermen who catch and release: Getting jerked around hurts the jaw. See this movie and you'll know the feeling.

From The Archives Issue 301: October 4, 1979
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