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photo_11_hiresOn the television show Alias Jennifer Garner played a woman with a double life—average citizen by day, sexy super-spy by night. In her new film, Catch and Release, she plays it straight, it’s her dead fiancée who led two lives.

Catch and Release is an odd kind of romantic comedy that isn’t exactly a comedy or very romantic for that matter. There are a few laughs—mostly provided by Clerks director Kevin Smith, seen here slumming in the chubby roommate role—mixed throughout the movie in between the suicide attempts, illegitimate babies, crying jags and clandestine sex. Any movie that begins at a funeral reception on what was supposed to be a wedding day isn’t destined to be a barrel of monkeys, but that’s just what makes Catch and Release so confounding.

It can’t quite make up its mind what it wants to be. Is it a comedy? Not exactly. Is it a romance? Kind of. Is it a change of life story involving old friends? Sorta. It all this and, I suspect more. The original cut of the film by director Susannah Grant was an epic three hours in length. Thankfully she has cut it down by an hour, but in doing so she may have lost some clarity in the storyline.

On the plus the movie features some very winning performances. The incredibly square-jawed Jennifer Garner is hard not to like, even when grief pushes her to make some questionable life choices.

Opposite her is Timothy Olyphant, best known as the foul mouthed Seth on Deadwood, this time put he has cleaned up the language and puts on his sensitive guy hat. He’s kind of an unconventional choice for this sort of role and the casting against type works well here.

Juliette Lewis pops up in a supporting role, playing one of her patented flaky, trashy characters. It’s part Mallory from Natural Born Killers, part Jesse the Bounty Hunter from My Name is Earl, but she adds some spark to the proceedings.

Catch and Release isn’t a very good date movie, but it may have some appeal to people who like their romance with a bit of an edge.

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