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Summer Catch

movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Summer Catch

Starring: Freddie Prinze Jr., Jessica Biel
Director: Mike Tollin
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 108 Minutes
Release Date: August 2001
Genres: Comedy, Romance

*Also starring: Beverly D'Angelo, Fred Ward, Jason Gedrick, Brittany Murphy, Gabriel Mann, Bruce Davison, Matthew Lillard, Brian Dennehy

Review by Edward Johnson-Ott
2 stars out of 4

A number of critics have decided that it's open season on Freddie Prize Jr., slamming the young actor as an utterly talentless pretty boy on career cruise control in sound-alike, disposable teen fluff like "Head Over Heels," "Boys and Girls," "Down to You" and "She's All That." While the Prinze oeuvre is hard to defend, his talent is not. I first saw him in the independent dark comedy "The House of Yes," where he gave a subtle, impressive performance as the younger brother in one of America's freakiest families. Prinze has the acting chops; he just needs to take a few supporting roles in some grown-up movies to show the non-believers that he has what it takes.

"Summer Catch" certainly won't help his case. Inoffensive, but utterly generic, the baseball-related romantic comedy does little more than kill time. The story deals with the love affair between Tenley (Jessica Biel), a wealthy Cape Cod girl and Ryan (Prinze), a local boy from a working class family who dreams of becoming a big-time baseball star. Ryan's preoccupation with his new honey-bunny drives her elitist father (Bruce Davison) crazy and endangers his position as pitcher with a Cape Cod Summer League team.

It's a wonder the kid has any time to pitch, as his time is occupied with making out with Tenley, fighting with her Dad, bonding with his own Dad (Fred Ward, who deserves better than this), fighting with his brother (Jason Gedrick) and carousing at a neighborhood bar with his teammates. The filmmakers desperately want to make a quirky, character-heavy baseball movie like "Bull Durham," but haven't got a clue how to get there. And so they glide from one cliché to the next for 108 minutes.

The only bit of originality comes from Marc Blucas in a minor role as a center-fielder from Texas. In an early barroom scene, Blucas, best known as demon-fighting Riley Finn from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," hears a young woman compliment a guy on his ass, then turns to teammate Matthew Lillard and states, "He does have a nice ass. A bubble butt." When Lillard gives him an "are you insane?" look, Blucas calmly says, "It's nothing sexual," then goes on to evaluate the hind-ends of some other players, including Lillard's.

Speaking of asses, Prinze does not bare his in the movie. The actor has a no nudity clause in his contract, so two stunt-butts were employed for a couple of semi-nude shots.

Blucas, whose character secretly dates a large woman throughout the story, gets another unique moment late in the film. Sick of hearing teammates make "fat chick" jokes, he climbs on top of a table and loudly declares his love of amply-sized ladies. While his speech still ends up objectifying women, it remains a nice change of pace in a numbingly ordinary movie.

Trivial tidbit: "Summer Catch" marks a Scooby Doo summit. Marc Blucas appears in "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back" as Fred from the Scooby Doo gang, while Freddie Prinze Jr. plays the same character in the upcoming big budget film version of the old cartoon.

Copyright © 2001 Edward Johnson-Ott

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