(director/writer: Susannah Grant; cinematographer: John Lindley; editor: Anne V. Coates; music: B T and Tommy Stinson; cast: Jennifer Garner (Gray), Timothy Olyphant (Fritz), Kevin Smith (Sam), Sam Jaeger (Dennis), Fiona Shaw (Mrs. Douglas), Juliette Lewis (Maureen), Joshua Friesen (Mattie); Runtime: 124; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producer: Jenno Topping; Columbia Pictures; 2007)

“Unappealing, inert and overlong inane romantic comedy.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

This unappealing, inert and overlong inane romantic comedy is set in contemporary Boulder; it’s screenwriter Susannah Grant’s (wrote the screenplay for “Erin Brockovich”) unfortunate directorial debut. Too much a predictable generic sitcom of a girl-meets-unfit-boy story but, of course, the boy turns out to be the love of her life even though they have no chemistry on the screen; the familiar storyline has been done countless times before and with often far better results.

The fiancé of Gray Wheeler (Jennifer Garner), Grady Douglas, dies in an accident during his bachelor-party fly-fishing trip (the fishing term is the reason for the title). She’s totally devastated and seeks comfort by moving in with Grady’s roommates: his serious fly-fishing business partner Dennis (Sam Jaeger) — who secretly has a crush on her — and the cheerfully comical overweight Sam (Kevin Smith, director). He also secretly has a crush on her. The move exerts goofy sight gag comedy from all the kitchen gadgets the would-be bride received, that the boys have trouble handling without messing up. Things get a bit more complex when the boys offer to put up Grady’s best friend Fritz (Timothy Olyphant), a hedonistic and shallow commercial director from L.A., whom Gray supposedly despises after she saw him screwing the caterer at Grady’s funeral reception while she was hidden away in the bathtub sulking.

A bunch of odd events get carried off to show the characters grieving over their loss in their own way: Dennis works diligently on a Peace Garden for his deceased friend; Sam gets overcome with grief and pulls an improbable half-hearted suicide attempt while drunk; Grady’s mother (Fiona Shaw) turns up and for some reason acts bitchy towards the innocuous Gray; Maureen (Juliette Lewis), a flaky massage therapist from Santa Monica, shows her face with her 3-year-old son, Mattie (Joshua Friesen), and reveals secrets about Grady that make him less than perfect; Gray discovers her fiancé had a secret million-dollar bank account and was sending monthly checks of $3,000 to Maureen for child support.

In this messy situation, Fritz proves he’s not such a bad guy and tries to smooth things over for everybody. Gray, who alternates between crying and smiling, which is her acting range for this pic, now has a change of heart over her first impression of Fritz and we have a romance cooking. It all ends happily but one is never convinced that Fritz, still coming off as an underhanded sleaze character behind his shining armor, is really Mr. Right.

Catch and Release