Freddie Prinze Jr.'s movie career continues with _Summer_Catch_, and if
that's not enough to bring fear to the hearts of intelligent moviegoers
everywhere, this will: it's a sports-themed romantic comedy-drama. "Romantic
comedy" as in giving his target teenybopper audience all that lovey-dovey crap
that first endeared him to the shrieking _TRL_ demographic with 1999's
_She's_All_That_; "sports-themed" as in Prinze trying to show to any guys in the
theatre that he isn't such a girlyman; and, most painful of all, "drama" as in
Prinze wanting to prove to his many (justified) critics that he, in fact, does
possess range. I'm sure he has one, but this is acting, not kitchen appliances,
we're talking about here, and _Summer_Catch_ won't hold much, if any, appeal to
anyone outside Prinze's limited fan base.
This fact is made all too explicitly clear in the opening stages of the
film when Prinze's Ryan Dunne runs around a baseball field... wearing only
women's thong underwear. From this point, it's obvious that the appeal of the
story of _Summer_Catch_ is moot; one's enjoyment of the film is ultimately
tested by whether or not such an image of a bare-assed Prinze sets off one's gag
reflex. But without such a scene, perhaps the story would have been just as
boring to teenage girls as it would be to anyone else. Ryan is a pitcher for a
team in the Cape Cod Baseball League; for one reason or another, the current
season is his last chance to catch the attention of pro scouts. But his focus
on the game is shaken when he falls for the wealthy Tenley Parrish (Jessica
Biel), for whose family he and his father do gardening work.
Thus begins all sorts of purported drama revolving around class
differences, following your heart, believing in your abilities, and so on.
Director Mike Tollin and writers Kevin Falls and John Gatins' already humdrum
material is made more vapid by the leads. Biel, who rather distressingly looks
at least a full decade older than her 19 years, is at least only flat and
unconvincing in her handful of "dramatic" scenes, which is more than can be said
for the ever-embarrassing Prinze. His attempt at an accent comes and mostly
goes, and as in all his previous films, he uses the same eyes bulging/mouth
agape look to convey the entire spectrum of emotions.
Prinze's lack of any acting talent is the only source of laughs in
_Summer_Catch_. The intentional comedic element in the film is either tired or
just plain stupid. Falling into the former category is Matthew Lillard, once
again playing goofy sidekick to Prinze (which he will yet again do in next
year's _Scooby-Doo_). In the latter category are the inordinate number of jokes
involving women's lingerie: Lillard is also seen in a thong; a heavy-set woman
is shown in revealing lingerie (just one of the film's oh-so-funny jokes at the
expense of larger women); and, most bizarre of all, an uncredited, lace-clad
Beverly D'Angelo plays a character who apparently likes to put fruits and
vegetables in her nether regions.
True to sports movie formula, _Summer_Catch_ ends with a big game scene.
Just like the rest of the film, there are no surprises to be had--except that
somehow, some way, the fluke that is Freddie Prinze Jr.'s film career has
managed to go on for another couple of hours.