Catch and Release

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Having written the entirely acceptable Erin Brockovich and the entirely terrible 28 Days, Susannah Grant makes her directorial debut with a dog of a rom-com starring Jennifer Garner as the girl mourning the death of her fiancé, learning that he wasn’t as perfect as she had thought, and turning to his friend (Timothy Olyphant) for succour and much else besides.

How awful a rom-com premise is that? Such was your love for someone, so impactful was his death, so stricken are you by the news that he might well have been a scumbag, that you decide to start making big eyes at the nearest available sexy guy. True, it might happen in real life, but that still doesn’t make it a great rom-com premise.

Worse than that there’s the distinct impression that everyone working on this film has taken one step back from the whole enterprise. For example, no one has pointed out to Grant – probably tearing her hair out with the thousand and one things that plague a first-time director – that her star is clearly pregnant, though Garner’s character certainly isn’t in the screenplay. Nor has anyone had a word in Grant’s ear about Olyphant’s spectacularly wooden performance – he is normally a lot better than this. Further down the cast list there are good people doing good work – Sam Jaeger, Juliette Lewis, Fiona Shaw. Most particularly there’s a comic performance by Kevin Smith (director of Clerks) who decides that he might as well have some fun and is almost energetic, fresh and funny enough to save the movie. I said almost.

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© Steve Morrissey 2007

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