Monday, January 29, 2007

Kevin Smith, Actor? (Call the HRC)

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In Susannah Grant's Catch and Release, Clerks director Kevin Smith plays Sam. Sam is a genial Celestial Seasonings copywriter who's the roommate of Dennis (Sam Jaeger). Both guys are friends the recently deceased Grady, whose bereft fiance Gray (Jennifer Garner) is now living in the downstairs part of the house once occupied by Grady.

Got that? Sam and Dennis seem to be Gray's main support system; she discovers after the funeral that Grady was a. rich, b. the father of a child with an L.A. massage therapist (Juliette Lewis, always welcome) and c. friends with Fritz (Timothy Olyphant), the guy she now seems to be falling for.

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As the flakier half of the two housemates, Sam spends most of his time in pajamas drinking beer. His self-loathing in the wake of Grady's death leads to one of the more dramatically unnecessary suicide attempts in film history; Sam politely downs vodka and a few sleeping pills and wakes up with Gray's comforting presence at his bedside.

I kept waiting for the revelation that Sam and Dennis were a gay couple, as they seemed opposite yet connected in an ideally ha-ha romantic comedy second banana way. (neat vs. messy, organized vs. spacey, etc.) But no, late in the picture Dennis reveals long-held feelings for Gray and then has a disastrous and irrelevant rebound date. Sam seems to connect with Lewis's California girl; she's moving in with him by the closing scenes.

Smith shambles through the role with the customary good humor he displays on Dinner for Five on IFC. Each character's fate fits neatly into the theme of moving on. I'm certainly not on the prowl for discrimination, but the scrambling to hetero-ify everyone was weird. My overall take on the film was down the middle; pleasant, low-key, (boy is Garner hot when she's sad), but maybe too much so. Worth a matinee.

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