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Catch and Release(2006)
After the sudden death of her fiancé, Gray Wheeler (Jennifer Garner) finds comfort in the company of his friends: lighthearted and comic Sam (Kevin Smith), hyper- responsible Dennis (Sam Jaeger), and, oddly enough, his old childhood buddy Fritz (Timothy Olyphant), an irresponsible playboy whom she’d previously pegged as one of the least reliable people in the world. As secrets about her supposedly perfect fiancé emerge, Gray comes to see new sides of the man she thought she knew, and at the same time, finds herself drawn to the last man she ever expected to fall for.
For more about Catch and Release and the Catch and Release Blu-ray release, see Catch and Release Blu-ray Review published by Dustin Somner on June 8, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.5 out of 5.
Starring: Jennifer Garner, Timothy Olyphant, Kevin Smith (I), Sam Jaeger, Tina Lifford, Juliette Lewis
Director: Susannah Grant
» See full cast & crew
Catch and Release Blu-ray Review
Take the hook out of this Blu-ray and toss it back in the ocean.
Reviewed by Dustin Somner, June 8, 2009
It's difficult to pinpoint the exact movie that killed the romantic comedy genre for me, but at some point I developed a general dislike for the majority of films that fall into that classification. There are surely exceptions that demonstrate Hollywood hasn't lost the ability to generate a "date-worthy" experience (Shakespeare In Love, Love Actually and When Harry Met Sally to name a few), but it seems we've been bombarded with one Mathew McConaughey vehicle after another and the chance for the genre to reclaim storytelling credibility has nearly been lost.
With this in mind, I was intrigued to hear the basis for the 2007 film Catch and Release. Written and directed by Susannah Grant, Catch and Release marked her directing debut, though she's no stranger to romantic comedy screenplays (her writing credits include: Ever After, 28 Days, Erin Brockovich and In Her Shoes). Given her prior writing experience, I had high hopes Grant could take what many would consider difficult subject matter and gracefully create a charming experience built on tragedy. Sadly, my hopes were dashed by the time the credits rolled.
On the day of her planned wedding, Gray Wheeler (Jennifer Garner) finds herself in the middle of a much different gathering. Rather than dressing in a white gown for a celebration most women look forward to throughout their entire lives, Gray is mourning the tragic accidental death of her fiance Grady during his bachelor party fishing trip. Her only source of comfort is found in Grady's three best friends, Fritz (Timothy Olyphant), Dennis (Sam Jaeger) and Sam (Kevin Smith), who each deal with the tragic loss in different ways. Sam becomes the house recluse, refusing to go in to work in favor of eating and drinking his way out of depression--Dennis tries to keep a level head and proceed with business as usual (though we soon find out he's been hiding a secret from Gray during the six years she was dating Grady)--and Lastly, Fritz is the womanizing bad-boy of the group, but also the one who appears to have known Grady the best. As the story unfolds, Gray digs deeper into the life of her deceased fiance, realizing he may not have been the man she thought she knew, and is faced with numerous challenges in dealing with the resulting sadness and anger welling up inside of her.
Catch and Release isn't your typical romantic comedy. In fact, there's little to no comedy throughout the film aside from some haphazard attempts at utilizing Kevin Smith for a chuckle or two. The idea of building a romantic comedy around the death of a fiance or friend is an ambitious undertaking and I think it could have worked if all of the elements fell into their proper place. As it stands, the film's premise is more of a weakness than a strength. The characters take turns fighting over who misses Grady the most and it really becomes bothersome by the halfway point of the film. To make matters worse, the whole production is dreary and depressing from the second the title shot appears at the start of the film. I didn't expect a lighthearted experience considering the significant role the initial tragedy plays in everything that follows, but I did expect a greater degree of resolution by the end of the film. So much of the story is dedicated to the relationships and interactions between Gray and the three friends, yet the closing minutes don't offer much hope that the 4 of them have built a lasting relationship that would honor Grady's memory.
The other reason the film didn't work for me, is the romantic relationship between Gray and Fritz. Considering Gray and Grady were together for over six years and planned to move on to a new chapter of their lives by getting married, it's asking a lot of the viewer to buy into Gray's sudden interest in Grady's promiscuous best friend. Everyone handles mourning in a different way, and that's likely the point the film is attempting to make when Gray and Fritz become romantically involved, but I find it hard to believe either person would view the situation as a good idea. Beyond the somewhat contrived romance, I also didn't feel much chemistry between Garner and Olyphant. I've never been a huge Jennifer Garner fan and her performance here doesn't do much to change that perception. Olyphant on the other hand, brings a certain charm to his character that's necessary in asking us to buy into the relationship, but his strength in the role of Fritz still isn't enough to erase Garner's pervasive frown. In the end, the characters are simply not convincing enough to carry the romantic underpinnings of their relationship, and it makes the film as a whole seem a little too contrived.
Catch and Release Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in 1080p utilizing the MPEG-2 codec (at an average bitrate of 23Mbps), Catch and Release offers a satisfying visual experience, but never achieves the level of quality found on a reference release. Considering this was an early Blu-ray offering, detail is surprisingly well-defined, with a pleasing level of depth in most scenes. Unfortunately, that's where the strengths end, and the weaknesses begin. Color saturation wavers between overly bright or dreadfully dull, with skin tones that appear pale and unnatural at times. Black levels are appropriately deep, but several interior shots exhibit subpar contrast resulting in a loss of shadow detail in the darker portions of the screen. This is especially apparent in low-light sequences, where background details have a tendency to become splotchy. Lastly, I was disappointed to find some minor edge enhancement around character outlines. It doesn't happen often enough to impact the viewing experience in a significant way, but it's still worth mentioning.
Overall, the transfer is a fine example of how far the Blu-ray format has come since it's inception. It still holds up well next to the average high-definition release, but pales in comparison to the best offerings the format has to offer.
Catch and Release Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The default audio track on the disc is a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, which doesn't come close to matching the audio proficiency of the Linear PCM 5.1 track. Once you deal with the minor hassle of switching tracks, you can sit back and soak up the increased clarity of the lossless sound mix. One of the highlights of the film as a whole is the indie-folk soundtrack that effectively sets the mood during the many emotional sequences. The musical numbers are well-balanced throughout the entire soundfield with a wonderful level of precision and grace. If you're looking for much more out of this dialogue-heavy experience, you may be a little disappointed. With the exception of the occasional environmental effects, the track remains heavily grounded in the front soundstage and doesn't offer much in the way of an LFE channel. For a romantic comedy, the audio is certainly adequate, but not something I'd consider inspired or overly engaging.
Catch and Release Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
From Concept to Completion (1080i, Dolby Digital 2.0, 20:29 min): Director Susannah Grant offers an in-depth discussion of the themes and ideas she brought to the story, as well as a brief history of the production from start to beginning. Other key players in the film are also interviewed to a lesser extent, but I preferred Ms. Grant's first-person perspective on what she was going for in writing and directing the film.
Deleted Scenes (480p, Dolby Digital 2.0, 3:33 min): Two deleted scenes are included, but the second one with Kevin Smith drinking beer while feeling sorry for himself is the only one of any value.
Auditions (480p, Dolby Digital 2.0, 14:17 min): This supplement contains clips from the initial auditions with Kevin Smith, Sam Jaeger and Juliette Lewis. I've never found auditions very interesting in the first place, and these offerings are no exception.
Lastly, we have a commentary track with Susannah Grant and Kevin Smith, as well as a second commentary track with Susannah Grant and cinematographer John Lindley. I didn't listen to each track extensively, but preferred the track with Kevin Smith (who manages to inject some comedy) over the technical focus of John Lindley.
Catch and Release Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Catch and Release is a perfect example of an interesting concept hampered by poor execution. The film could have been a memorable experience if it were written as a drama about 4 individuals dealing with the loss of someone special, but the addition of flat comedy and out-of-place romance sucks the potential completely away. There's a chance my feelings are related to mistaken impressions going into the film (it's difficult to consider this a romantic comedy), but I can safely say I have no desire to ever watch it again. If you're a fan of Catch and Release, the technical proficiency of the Blu-ray makes it an easy recommendation for your collection, but I'd advise everyone else stick with a rental first to see if your experience is more favorable than mine.
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