Catch and Release

Movie Review

This review is more a commentary on the movie's theme than a synopsis to read before viewing, so I recommend seeing the movie first before reading my analysis.

catch After long subjection to the feminist slogan "When a woman says no she means no," it's a relief to watch a movie where the women explain what is actually meant when they say, "No more nookie." Catch and Release is set in beautiful, picturesque, "happy" Boulder, Colorado, with most of the action centered around a big house where live the grieving:

Grady had lived there too, with Gray, before his tragic boating accident.

Gray's starting lament sets the tone for the whole movie, of a biblical: "Lament like a virgin girded with sackcloth for the husband of her youth" (Joel 1:8). She wishes she hadn't said what she did before he left for the outdoor bachelor party. She had wanted him to help her go over the seating arrangements, but he was in a hurry. What she should have said, she now tells us, is:

What she did tell him was, "Listen, pal, no more nookie till you figure out where to put your mother's bridge club." That was the last thing she ever said to him.

The next scene is a reception of sorts which Gray isn't up to emotionally. She doesn't know how to tell people to leave her in peace. Grady's lifelong friend from L.A. is seen hitting on one of the caterers. Gray has a hard time escaping "pervy" Uncle Lou's hands. This scene itself elicits our sympathy. Women, we see, aren't these powerful "no" sayers; they need rescuing at times.

She escapes to the solitude of an upstairs bathroom where she sits in the bathtub and closes the curtain. In tromp the excited couple from downstairs who proceed to lock the door and get it on. Here is gripping irony: Gray's "seating arrangement" in the bathtub, and the caterer's accommodating seat on the sink. She keeps crying out, "Sock it to me!" which rhymes with "No more nookie." After their quickie she pens her number on his hand and asks him, "Call me, Mr. Yummy." Here is a girl who knows how to say goodbye to a man before she has to get back to her catering. Poor Gray. That has got to hurt. She storms out of the bathroom next.

Now to business. The lawyer says since the couple hadn't tied the knot, and since they didn't share title to anything, the (sizeable) estate will go to Grady's mother, Mrs. Douglas. The size of the estate was a surprise, probably an inheritance from his dad. The actress who plays Mrs. Douglas could get an oscar for the way she focuses the grief in the story, à la (Joel 1:12b) "joy is withered away from the sons of men."

Back in the house Gray discovers that intrusive friend still there. "Don't touch anything," she firmly tells him. "Think you can handle it, Mr. Yummy?" Her cynicism and directness leave no doubt she means no, don't touch.

The guy hangs around the place, one of Grady's friends that Gray can't understand. The other guys are there too. I suppose the fly fishing shop is closed, so we see Dennis there at the house. Laid back friend Sammy is there too, having taken a mental health day off from work due to depression. "The best offense is a good defense," is his motto. They argue over who was Grady's better friend. Sammy insists Grady was more open with him than with his business partner friend.

Out comes the hanger-on friend with a pair of skis with wheels and asks the two if they are hard to use. "No," they both tell him and point to a hill to go down on them. Here "no" meant they are playing a trick on him.

The tension between Gray and "Mr. Yummy" continues to build as he continues to stay. "I'm not listening to you until you're fully dressed," she tells him. But she does listen. Here "no" meant only that she was irritated. But he is suffered to stay.

The plot turns on a ringing cell phone in the middle of the night. Irritated, Gray retrieves it from the shelf and throws it on top of "Mr. Yummy" on the couch. "Either answer it or turn it off," she tells him. He retorts, "That's not mine." After a moment's thought his no becomes a yes, "Maybe it is; let me see." But she has hold of it now. This was a hidden cell phone of her erstwhile fiancé and she wants to know what's on it. Ten messages. All from the same number in L.A.. A typical one says, in a woman's voice, "F you, sugar daddy," and asks about her money. Gray is visibly distressed, and she is not any happier after calling the number and having the phone answered, "You know what I need so go ahead give it to me."

She hits a bar and gets drunk only to be rescued by "Mr. Yummy." The song in the bar, written by E. & P. Bruce, sung by Waylon Jennings & Willie Nelson:

               Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys

          Mamas don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys.
          Don't let 'em pick guitars and drive them old trucks;
          Make 'em be doctors and lawyers and such.

That's what she was singing when she got home. A man responding to an authoritative woman starts with his mom, and the advice is, mom, make him, don't just tell him. She might tell him no but let him go ahead and do it. It's what the woman lets the man do, not just telling him no.

She has a confrontation with Grady's friend from L.A. who acknowledges knowing the woman. He tells her the payments were for his child that she had. But it was pre-Gray. The kid, a boy, is seven or eight years old. So he tells her.

She is really distressed now, that her fiancé failed to confide something so important. The friend asks her to sit down. She says no but then flops in a seat. It is the prerogative of a woman to change her mind, we need not hold her to her no.

She has it figured out now why the L.A. friend is still around, to clean up Grady's mess. She'd like to wipe the slate clean. She decides to paint the room. When one of the housemates comments on the blue color she's painting it, she tells him it's not blue, it's "maracas mystery." This "no" (not blue) while painting the room blue is a form of denial. Sometimes no means denial, it just does.

Well, the friend calls the mistress Maureen in L.A., introduces himself as Fritz, Grady's lifelong friend, and drops the news on her.

The tension in the film is wound tighter when next Gray meets with Grady's mom Helen who wants the engagement ring back that's been in the family six generations. She tells Gray that since she didn't spend the rest of her life with Grady, she should return it. Her response was that Grady spent the rest of his life with her. She's keeping it. They parted on a sour note. Eventually they sort out their no's and come to an amicable agreement.

Fritz apologizes to Gray for the intrusion in the bathroom. Gray brushes it off saying that if the other caterer hadn't been gay she would probably have screwed him. No she wouldn't, she corrects. This no is the NOT that reverses the meaning of the original statement.

The tension is further alleviated by Sammy's faux suicide attempt.

Just as we are starting to relax some, Gray runs into Maureen outside her house. Maureen is looking for the people connected to Grady. They're not here, Gray tells her. "Who are you?" Maureen asks. "I'm the cleaning woman," responds Gray.

Gray asks after the age of Maureen's boy. He's not eight. He'll be four in October. In order to understand the timeline, figure Gray and Grady went together for six years, it's not even close to winter yet, it takes nine months to have the baby, which all figures that her beau conceived his love child after he'd been with Gray a whole year. The seven or eight year age was a subterfuge to place the kid pre-Gray.

Gray is understandably angry with Fritz and physically confronts him, which turns into a different kind of physicality. Now we are really confused, but, hey, it's the movies.

Gray and Helen meet again. Under Colorado law with no will the estate will all go to the kid after one DNA test. Now Mrs. Douglas is in denial. Her son was not that stupid.

She ends up blaming Gray. "No satisfied man goes screwing cocktail waitresses!" Now we are reminded of Gray telling her man, "No more nookie" instead of "Sock it to me."

Returning home she finds Maureen in the house with the housemates. Maureen is confused by the turn of conversation and asks, "What's going on here? ... Am I missing something?" Gray doesn't say a word, but gives her a big smile. "Oh, you're not the cleaning woman," Maureen realizes.

This is a critical scene with regard to the theme of the movie. Let's think it through. One of the reasons the sociable Amish quit using the telephone to replace in-person visits was because the telephone failed to convey "facial expression, body language, and dress code." A telephone will convey words, will convey a "no" even. This movie shows a case where the word "no"—I am nobody special—was in conflict with a facial expression—smile—and the facial expression won out as the correct message. The feminist doctrine that "no means no" can break down when a girl tries to convey a "no" on an important matter by telephone when she'd do better to communicate in person where she has more communication dimensions going for her.

Maureen is a massage therapist who tries some natural remedy on these people. She says their chi (energy) is blocked, their emotional processes are congested, are constipated. She feeds them a concoction they call "turf" to relieve them. The suggestion from the movie is that people who cannot emotionally process a "no" from its context but can only have it mean no, they are emotionally constipated.

Maureen confides to one of the housemates that now that she has met Gray, she understands better what she thought all along. Gray is so "perfect" that whenever Grady was away from her, he wis like a kid on vacation. So much for Gray's insistence on perfection before he got any nookie. Put what they all said together—Gray, Helen, and Maureen—and we end up with sentiments not so far removed from Dr. Laura, The Care and Feeding of Husbands, except for the timing of when the wedding ceremony fits in the relationship before the man starts getting any nookie. The feminists would want everybody to be seated perfectly before that happens. Dr. Laura would want it to be after the ceremony. And Gray would have it after her beau stopped seeing other women.

From the "In Bed" chapter of Carmen Renee BBerry and Tamara Traeder's Girlfriends Talk About Men, we hear from "Judy, married forty years": "Having been married all these years, I never said no to my husband. Probably we were married over thirty years before I really truly had a headache." She laughs, "I just felt that it was part of a man, part of his nature, something that a wife should be compassionate about. If he is not being abusive, and you are not being taken advantage of, then what is the point of saying no?" If you can place this movie into a framework consistent with your own standards, then the lesson is stark, about being compassionate, letting a woman's man have nookie.

The kid Matty is really a trip and I won't go into it. You know that other saying, "A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle." While there are some things a woman doesn't need a man for, and there are some women who don't need a man even to help raise a child, Maureen isn't one of them. She really could use help from a man, and Sammy seems to do a top job at it. For as "sluggish" as he usually is, he moves pretty fast too.

The kid takes to him naturally. They go fishing. He quotes the saying, "Give a man to fish, and you've fed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you've fed him for life." Seems that Sammy's job is to find famous quotations to put on the boxes of herbal teas. We hear them quoted throughout the movie, along with their author. One quote we don't hear, and it wouldn't fit, is, "When a woman says no, she means no." What famous person known for his wisdom came up with that? Nobody that I know of. It would so fly in the face of the plot that it would certainly be cut if someone even suggested it.

On their fishing trip, Dennis confides to Gray that he's not dating because he is taken. Who is it? Some secret? He's having a tryst with a married woman? No, he has been stuck on Gray for the time Grady's been seeing her (six years). Gray can't handle this revelation, so he says, "Scratch that, I'm having an affair with a married woman." Here no doesn't mean no but that he wants to spare her awkwardness.


They chide one another some about Gray's admission that she thinks it cruel that fishermen catch and release. She thinks that after putting the fish through the misery of being hooked, they ought to have the decency to eat it. I believe this is a metaphor for her being released after she'd been hooked by Grady. Fish don't have big enough brains to remember the hook. People do. By inference a girl that drops a guy that's been hooked, not having the decency to marry him, does not deserve to have her cruel no idolized as a standard in a saying. The guy deserves our sympathy not our slogans.

Dennis tries dating a woman Perseffanie who likes him, but she doesn't understand his roommates' irreverent humor and runs out the door. Gray and Fritz are by now sleeping together even though she and her girlfriends had vowed no sleeping with a guy until she knew his mother's maiden name. So much for that "no."

Helen runs into Matty at the vegetable stall and explains to the kid what a papaya is. Matty thought wrongly it was a mango. Women routinely have to correct kids with no's.

The DNA test shows that Maureen's child was not fathered by Grady. Maureen, says, no that's a mistake, until they do some math for her. You know, when a woman says, no, he's not the father, this one is, we go by a careful DNA test more than by the woman's no. Feminists haven't got us that brainwashed yet.

Gray remembers a fishing trip when Grady said he had something important to tell her. She asked him if it would make her happy or sad. He said sad. She told him, no, don't tell her. So her complaing that she'd not been informed about his kid came back on her, that she said no, don't tell me. Sometimes a woman's no is taken more seriously than she wished it were.

Gray and Fritz get discovered by Dennis, holding hands. Dennis confronts Gray who tells him, "It's nothing. It's less than nothing." We movie-viewers know that's a lie, that their body language trumps the verbal no. Fritz overheard what she said, though.

Dennis who has been thwarted at romance can't even get out the door, it's stuck and won't open. He overdoes it with a plane trying to shave off the edge. That's a metaphor for his attempt to fix getting stuck in romance, by the extreme solution of moving out from the roommates. Maybe he'll have better luck with Perseffanie then.

Meanwhile, Maureen and Matty are moving in with Sammy.

Fritz packs for L.A. and stops to say goodbye to Gray who asks "What are you leaving for?"

"Nothing. ... Less than nothing."

She tries to explain that her no didn't mean no, but at the same time she's trying on the wedding dress ("a girl thing") and the dress code trumps the verbal explanation, that it doesn't look right them carrying on so here. He leaves for L.A.

Later she herself packs up. Where is she going? She answers with a smile which says it all.


Copyright © 2007, Earl S. Gosnell III Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 License.

Permission is hereby granted to use this review of the "Catch and Release" movie--with credit given, of course--in intellectually honest non-profit educational material.

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Earl Gosnell
1950 Franklin Bv., Box 15
Eugene, OR 97403


If you are interested, you might enjoy my reviews on the movies "Sweet November" and "Evening." More of my movie reviews are available at under the pseudonym "topreviewerman," and in my subdirectory on movies.

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Review of "Catch and Release" movie.