Although it's largely a small-budget DIY local feature, The Catch isn't without ambition.

It wants to be a caper comedy-drama about angling contest fraud. As well, it wants to have a say about over-fishing in the vast waters of the Kaipara Harbour where it was shot.

Unfortunately, the result does neither that well. True, it looks professional and has some likable, recognisable characters.

But its admirable good intentions, coastal charms and affection for its subject can't compensate for an unevenness of tone and pace, and an occasional amateurishness to its dramatic scenes.

Director and co-writer Simon Mark-Brown is an advertising industry veteran whose production company shot the self-produced feature in the Paparoa and Pahi communities.

He's also given The Catch some eco-messaging, via some powerpoint-like opening credits followed by characters' occasional grumblings about commercial over-fishing which create tensions but remain a side issue.

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Meanwhile, its main plot about a fishing competition scam, reportedly "based on a true story" about a contestant who entered a whopper he'd caught earlier, doesn't quite come off, despite a lengthy build-up.

It is a film that fittingly requires an angler's patience. Right from those informative opening credits, you do spend a fair bit of time waiting for something to happen.

Much of that waiting is spent viewing picturesque, often drone-powered establishing shots of the Upper Kaipara and copious footage of its main character Brian (Nicol Munro) driving from his boathouse home to nearby Paparoa and Pahi and back.

The Catch
The Catch "is a film that fittingly requires an angler's patience". Photo/Supplied

Woolly-haired Brian is a hard-up Scottish builder whose latest job is going belly-up and whose ex is on the phone chasing family support.

So, when he comes across a giant snapper a few days before the lucrative annual fishing contest, he is tempted to cheat.

Trouble is, his honest best mate and fishing partner Wiremu (Tukiwaho, the best performer here who is unfortunately underused) knows something is up.

Meanwhile their fishing nemesis Marcus (Capstick) has his own evil designs on the big prize.

Brian bumbling through his quandary might have made for an hour of television. What's here might have worked better as a pilot for a series set in a fishing-minded small town.

Given the amount of time it spends bobbing about in boats, this could well find an audience, chiefly among those with fishing-themed bumper stickers on their SUVs.

But even they might wonder, given the age-old connection between the pursuit of fish and the spinning of yarns, why The Catch can't quite hook one's attention.


Cast: Nicol Munro, Tainui Tukiwaho, David Capstick
Director: Simon Mark-Brown
Rating: M (sex scenes and offensive language)
Running: 85 mins
Verdict: Middling local effort inspired by reel life