There were clearly a lot of cooks in the kitchen for Catch and Release. One of those cooks, writer/director Kevin Smith, unquestionably wrote every dash and comma of his substantial 'chubby best friend' part in the film, despite receiving no official credit for his work. Smith's recognizable writing flair turns up early and often throughout the piece, even in scenes not involving his character. Another cook, whether he knows it or not, is self-appointed generational guardian Zach Braff, who used his film Garden State to accelerate the iPod-ization of movies, filling every possible quiet moment with a dollop of weepy-man indie-pop. The characters in Catch and Release can't walk from the kitchen to the living room without being quickly dunked in a carefully-chosen soundtrack sampling. The chef who should have the tallest hat, Oscar-nominated screenwriter-turned director Susannah Grant, is more often than not sidelined in her own film. The simple romance she wants to unfurl, about a woman falling into the arms of her boyfriend's best friend after his untimely death, must fight for center-stage.
Jennifer Garner is Gray, a 30-ish woman apparently going on 13, since her only friends in the world are Kevin Smith's character, who walks around in a bathrobe and chews food with his mouth open in every scene and another male friend played by Sam Jaeger, whose entire mission in life is two-fold: to quietly pine for Gray and to occasionally admit to said pining so that she can knock his romantic aspirations back down like a whack-a-mole. Since neither of these clods will do as a romantic interest, economy of character demands that Timothy Olyphant's rich television director character will be carrying home the trophy before the credits roll. The film's opening scene, at the post-funeral gathering for Gray's recently deceased boyfriend, has Gray hiding in a bathroom and watching, horrified, while Olyphant's character bangs the caterer on the kitchen sink. Is this supposed to throw us off the trail? It doesn't work. With no credible rival for Gray's affections in the film, Olyphant's character could have a hundred inappropriate quickies and still walk away with the leading lady.