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Catch and Release

MPAA Rating: PG-13-Rating (MPAA) for sexual content, language and some drug use

Reviewed by: Misty Wagner

Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens, Adults
Romance comedy, Drama
2 hr. 4 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
January 26, 2007 (wide)
Copyright, Columbia Pictures (Sony) Copyright, Columbia Pictures (Sony) Copyright, Columbia Pictures (Sony) Copyright, Columbia Pictures (Sony) Copyright, Columbia Pictures (Sony) Copyright, Columbia Pictures (Sony) Copyright, Columbia Pictures (Sony) Copyright, Columbia Pictures (Sony) Copyright, Columbia Pictures (Sony)
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Columbia Pictures (Sony)

What is true love and how do you know when you have found it? Answer

Sex, Love and Relationships
Learn how to make your love the best it can be. Discover biblical answers to questions about sex, marriage, sexual addictions, and more.
Featuring: Jennifer Garner, Timothy Olyphant, Kevin Smith, Sonja Bennett, Juliette Lewis, Fiona Shaw
Director: Susannah Grant (debut)
Producer: Casey Grant, Ryan Kavanaugh, Lynwood Spinks
Distributor: Columbia Pictures (Sony)

When the funeral of Gray’s (Jennifer Garner) fiance' Graydon coincides with what would have been their wedding day, she becomes lost. Appearing to have no friends or family herself, and being unable to afford the rent for the house she would have shared with her husband, once they were married. She is forced to pack her belongings into a storage shed and move into the house her fiance' had shared with roommates Dennis (Sam Jaeger) and Sam (Kevin Smith)—taking over his room as her own.

It is immediately after the funeral that Gray begins to learn that Graydon had secrets. Big ones, and this naturally causes her to doubt their relationship and question everything they had shared. Together, she and his roommates sort of stumble along, trying however they can to get through this.

And then there is Fritz (Timothy Olyphant) who was Graydon’s best friend from high school. Now a director out in California, Fritz came to Boulder for the funeral and for reasons never really mentioned, he decides to stick around. It’s obvious that he and Gray don’t know each other too well, or really care for one another that much. Despite a rough start, just after the funeral, it is Fritz who seems to hold the key to the secrets her fiance' had been hiding from her. While Graydon’s mom and other friends seem caught up in their own grief, it is Fritz who unexpectedly takes care of Gray.

Predictably (only because anyone who had seen the trailer knows this happens), a relationship develops between Gray and Fritz.

Audiences around the nation are likely to be filled with people expecting a cute little love story, but “Catch and Release” isn’t that, exactly. Though marketed as a “chick flick,” it isn’t really that either. Written by Susannah Grant (“28 Days,” “Erin Brokovich”), strong characters and an emotionally empowering storyline are not a surprise. From the very moment the story takes off, (at the funeral) the scenes are weighted with heavy emotion. We learn who these characters are, and see their humanity, by their heartache and suffering. At times the “supporting characters” take center stage which makes these two hours feel less like a movie and more like walking into someone’s life at a really raw and uninhibited time and bearing witness to everyone trying to find their way and learn to be okay again. Though funny parts are scattered through out, it is easy to find yourself see-sawing along with the emotional tides of this film because this cast, and these characters, are so relatable. Even though we never even really see a picture of this man that they all loved and lost, there are times in the movie where it would be easy to feel you had lost something as well. Twice I was caught off guard and brought back to the reality of the theatre because, for me, I felt swept up in each of their mourning and journeys to find themselves again.

Despite the emotional depth of the movie, what surprised me the most was the quality this film entailed. With Jennifer Garner and Kevin Smith both cast, I knew the acting would be sincere, but everything else was of high quality as well. The soundtrack flowed with the film flawlessly, the cinematography was beautifully artsy and yet more so in a classic sense. This truly was a great movie to see!

And yet…

The Bad:

The language gets pretty heavy at times, especially in a scene where Kevin Smith is yelling at a little boy and trying to get a hold on an out of control situation. There are other instances of profanity as well.

Though there isn’t really any nudity there are two actual intercourse scenes and a few other implied instances. One scene is crude and tasteless, and it is meant to be just that. It depicts a desperate moment and is story line specific but could possibly be uncomfortable to sit through. Most of that particular scene is done off screen so you are just hearing the crass dialogue during the brief encounter. The other scene however, is a difficult one. It is long and intimate. The camera shots in this scene are impressive. Because of the high volume of emotion through out the film, this too is a heavily emotional scene. To a degree, the encounter could have been necessary to the script but the scene is a fairly heavy one and so I have to strongly caution viewers.

There is fairly heavy alcohol use throughout the film, both on screen and off. There are a few drunken scenes. You find out, early on, that Gray is on sleeping pills to help her cope. Later in the film there is a purposeful drug overdose.

The very early parts of Gray’s relationship with Fritz are sexual. The idea that a mostly sexual relationship could equal love is one that Hollywood is still, sadly, trying to push at us. I am not stating that from an entirely Christian perspective. I realize this story isn’t about Believers, so we can’t expect them to maintain the lives and values that Believers should. I will continue more on this in The Good section of this review because I do feel this is another way in which this film stands out differently…

The Good:

Despite the origin of Fritz and Gray’s relationship, it isn’t the sex that keeps it going. In fact, as the characters continue to mourn in the destructive ways they are trying, things continue to grow worse for them.

As I mentioned, the first sex scene (at the funeral) is painted in an honest and negative light. This is a good thing… If the film makers feel the need to place sexual relations in a movie, I can’t help but feel that we should commend them on using these things honestly. Just as with the relationship between Fritz and Gray. Sex may help them comfort, but it isn’t implied that this leads them to love. It isn’t anything that makes their lives better, in fact it causes things to get a little worse. The sex in this film, be it in the two scenes or in things that are discussed, is honest. There are real life and really difficult consequences. There is no glamorizing of the weakness of flesh and in reviewing this film, I have to respect that.

Even though the character of Graydon is dead, those who love him are left to pick up a huge mess because of the poor choices he made when he was alive. I think this is an important “visual” for many of us to get.

Bad choices are made, bad things happen as a result of them. There is nothing preposterous about the content in this film. These are real life things. Maybe not in my life, or yours, but in someone’s. Someone, somewhere, will sit tearfully in this movie and possibly feel for the first time that they are not alone. This is a good thing… A movie is more than entertainment, it is more than art. It is meant to tell a story, a story which can sometimes help us where we are at in life, and sometimes it helps us open up and relate to where others may possibly be.

I believe this is a film which holds the potential to do such things…

Even though it may seem like I had a lot more bad than good to say about “Catch and Release,” I have to point out that isn’t the case at all. I loved this film. I loved the stories, and I especially connected with the characters. If you are not easily offended, then I wholeheartedly recommend this film. Despite the objectionable content, the only other observation I made is in regards to subject matter. People tend to mourn in different ways. Having recently been through the death of loved ones, I found this movie to be very therapeutic and comforting. This is not to say that there may be others going through something, who would find the emotional matters in this film to be too much.

I hope this review is helpful to those of you considering seeing this movie. Because of the sexual relations in the film, I would encourage parents not to allow their teens to see it, or at the very least, see it with them and talk about it. To those who do see the film based on this review, I hope you like the movie, and I hope it touches your heart as it has touched mine.

Violence: Minor / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Heavy

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer Comments
Comments below:
Positive—I thoroughly enjoyed this movie, perhaps centrally because I believe that many of us can identify with the emotions laden in the film. I am a huge fan of well written films that have innovative, thought-provoking, snappy dialogue. For this reason alone, I have appreciated most of Kevin Smith’s work, and was vastly encouraged to see him participate in a project where it is solely based on intelligent dialogue (one of his fortes) and none of his normally present profanity. It is definitely a film for those that watch movies to learn about life from other peoples' perspectives. The way that the various members, especially the central widow, embraced the single mother with her son especially spoke to me… their love and treating her with family respect despite the fact that she had committed apparent adultery with Grady was a great parallel of Christ’s forgiveness of us no matter how matter the severity of our bad decisions.

Overall, a great movie, but be forewarned that none of the characters appear to profess Christ (with the exception of Kevin Smith’s comment about God’s reaction to catching a fish), so it logically follows that their lifestyles imitate typical non-believers, including immorality and light profanity, although I appreciate that it didn’t appear that it was overdone.
My Ratings: Offensive / 5
Doug Engle, age 30
Positive—I LOVED this movie from the very beginning! The review written couldn’t have been more right. When the movie was over, the only words I could use to decribe it was “real life.” If you like to see movies to escape from the normalcy of day to day life then this probably isn’t for you. BUT if you appreciate that sometimes life has it’s ups and downs and we all find different ways to get through them, despite the circumstances, then maybe this movie is for you. I felt that there was just enough humor, comedy and drama. Very, very emotional throughout and I could entirely relate. I FELT the story from start to finish and would recommend this to a friend and would definitly watch it again.
My Ratings: Average / 5
Heather Guerra, age 30
Negative—My wife and I were looking forward to this film, mainly because we greatly enjoyed Jennifer Garner in the TV series “Alias”. While there were parts of the film that struck a heart string or two, for the most part, we found the film to lack any deep substance, and to rely fairly heavily on sexual innuendo, and nonsensical sex. The film was, in my opinion, helter skelter. It jumped around from one topic to another, without really allowing you to get settled on something to really enjoy, and appreciate. The so called love story of the movie, was based on Jen. Garners character falling for the very person we’d hoped that she would not fall for. One character in the film dates an apparent lovely girl, only to have that scene end in two seconds, with no follow up. The bottom line was that, about halfway through the film, we both wished that we had not gone to see it.
My Ratings: Offensive / 3½
Timothy Wiebe, age 43
Negative—It was very boring and very low. I fell asleep at the movie… because I got extremely bored with the story line. And the acting was very bad.
My Ratings: Offensive / 1
Terry, age 39
Negative—The power of persuasion is a, well, powerful thing. After reading the main review just now, I nearly changed my mind about the movie, she was so convincing! If I had gone to watch this movie in order to critique it, I might have a more favorable opinion. However, I went with a girl friend, and we just wanted to see a fun and light romantic comedy, which was what the previews suggested. It was a drama more than anything. And the opening sex scene was so disgusting that it ruined the rest of the movie for us, especially considering Jennifer’s character ends up with him. Plus, I thought some of the acting was a little forced, especially by the bigger man who was supposed to carry the comic relief. Aside from the major issue (stark sexual scene), the movie was not what the previews suggested, and that is getting tiring.
My Ratings: Very Offensive / 3½
Abbi Walker, age 28
Negative—BORING! Lame story line! Not too badly acted, but the actors had such a lame script, there wasn’t too much they could do with it. Not quite morally bankrupt, but pretty close. There were a few touching moments, but for the most part, it was a waste of time and money!
My Ratings: Offensive / 2
Penny, age 36
Negative—This movie had too many offensive moments in it to be be enjoyable. Every time I tried to relax and enjoy the film, another scene would come up that offended me or made me feel uncomfortable. Bottom line: not worth the time and effort.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
Jennifer Constantine, age 30