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Summer Catch

Starring Freddie Prinze Jr.
Screenplay by Kevin Falls and John Gatins
Directed by Mike Tollin

IN SHORT: Throw it back. [Rated PG-13 for sexual content, language and some drinking. 100 minutes]

In our mind, we're mixing up baseball and fishing metaphors but that summary works just as well if you limit your perceptions to baseball, which is the background for this thing that passes as a teen targeted popcorn slash dateflick. We're still trying to figure out what the motivation is, on the part of the men in suits, to hire Freddie Prinze Jr. for movie after movie. His acting skill is adequate, which is no different from every other working actor. Either he works cheap or the teengirls love his mug to death. We figure it's the latter, as director Mike Tollin spends more time putting pinup quality mugshots on the big screen than he did to telling any kind of substantial story.

What we get in Summer Catch is a whole lot of potential audition monologs and acting school rehearsal scenes linked to form the thinnest kind of movie story imaginable. One in which it's hard to define which scenes are important and which are just subplots. We see too many of these flicks. They're all drowning in soundtrack music and, in this case, there is so much of it that it interferes with any story that could be told. But for those of you who want to be actors, take your choice of:

  • Local boy (Prinze) makes the collegiate baseball league. It's his last chance for a look-see by major league scouts. Can he make it, or will self-doubt relegate him to lawn mower jockey (which is his real gig, working for his loser of a dad).
  • Rich girl (Jessica Biel) falls for local boy. Class and a snooty father (Bruce Davison) get in the way
  • Rich girl has father problems. He wants her to work in a job she doesn't want
  • Local boy has a loser brother (Jason Gedrick) who runs the local bar. Loser Brother's encouragement comes in the form of "tell me when to show up so I can see you screw it up"
  • Local loose girl (Brittany Murphy) likes to steal the clothes of her conquests. This means lots of ballplayers show up for practice in very tight, brightly colored thongs
  • Player with a $2 million option (Corey Pearson) lords it over the rest of the team
  • Rich girl's dad threatens local boy. Local boy's dad (Fred Ward) steps up to the plate to defend his boy
  • Older woman (Beverly D'Angelo) who takes a rookie player (Wilmer Valderrama) under her, um, wing.
  • Local boy blows it
  • Local boy doesn't blow it
  • everybody gets to drink way too much beer and do a drunk scene

and on and on it goes, leading to a most wonderful sequence in which Local Boy both blows it and doesn't blow it, almost in the same breath. Just in case this wonderful excerpt from Acting 101 has caused your head to droop, well, there's the soundtrack to pump it up. There's always a soundtrack to pump it up.

God, even trying to write about this loser has us bored silly.

If this is a story about baseball, it carries no excitement. No cracks about baseball being a boring game, kids, there's enough in Summer Catch that's been "adapted" from other stories that it feels to these old eyes like the summer rerun that it is. If it's a love story, it's sorely hampered by the fact that it needs a PG-13 rating to get Prinze's fans in the door. If it's a story about class values, well, that's just above the heads of the wide-eyed kidlets. A cameo by Hank Aaron isn't enough to keep olds farts like us interested, though the long sequence with Beverly D'Angelo in lingerie is. You figure out what she did with the cucumber. This film's rating precludes any speculation on our part.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Nine Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Summer Catch, he would have paid . . .


You can park your little girls at this one, as long as you don't mind a wee bit of male nudity -- not Freddie and nothing more than comic relief. Summer Catch is such a loss that only a very small market of Teen Beat readers will run for the box office.

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