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
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
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