As the writer of Erin Brockovich and In Her Shoes, Susannah Grant offered women a satisfying alternative to Hollywood's usual brand of feather light 'chick flicks'. With her directorial debut Catch And Release, she appears to have dropped the ball. Our heroine is a young widow who reinvents herself in the midst of tragedy, but there's something distinctly wishy-washy about the aptly named Gray, and the usually feisty Jennifer Garner looks out of sorts in the role.
Unease takes hold early on with Gray struggling to put on a brave face at the wake. She flees to the bathroom and hides in the tub as the buddy of her dead fiancÚ, Fritz (Timothy Olyphant), 'unclogs the pipes' of a pretty blonde mourner. It could happen, but such abrupt shifts from tragedy to screwball comedy feel jarring. Rather than play down the humour, Grant employs jingling incidental music while Garner pulls faces. Consistently, whenever things get heavy, someone falls over or forgets to put the lid back on the blender.
"THE STORY PLODS ON"
The laughs are engineered using rusty parts and crudely inserted inside a mechanical plot. Similarly, Gray's burgeoning romance with Fritz grinds oh-so slowly against 'supposed-to-be-shocking' revelations about the dead fiancÚ's past. Gray initially clings to Fritz in desperation, but as the story plods on, Olyphant does little to convince us of their long-term compatibility. Juliette Lewis helps break the monotony with a sparkling turn as a ditsy skeleton in the dead fiancé's closet and Kevin Smith spouts a few good zingers as the slacker housemate. Sadly it's not enough to catch and keep hold of your interest.
Catch And Release is released in UK cinemas on Friday 23rd March 2007.