Saturday, January 22, 2011

Review: Summer Catch

Plot: Ryan Dunne (Freddie Prinze Jr.) is an MLB baseball prospect with a history of messing up his opportunities. When he's given a chance to pitch for his hometown Chatham Athletics in the Cape Cod Baseball League, Ryan realizes it might be his last opportunity to make it to the big leagues. However, when Ryan starts to fall for rich girl Tenley Parrish (Jessica Biel) he may be forced to choose between his dream of becoming a major league pitcher or the girl of his dreams.

Review: Hey remember when guys like Freddie Prinze Jr., Jessica Biel, Matthew Lillard, Brittany Murphy, and Wilmer Valderrama were A-list Hollywood stars? No? Well neither do I and it's probably because much like Dontrelle Willis's return to form, it never happened. I'd hesitate to call any of the people I just mentioned A-listers in any case. In fact they are more in the Q to W range. And yet they are all in the lamentable 2001 film Summer Catch, easily the worst baseball movie of all time.

Basically the sports themed equivalent of a bad episode of Dawson's Creek, (redundant I know) Summer Catch is a trite, unrealistic, and sappy romantic "comedy" that has about as much redeeming value as a lamp from the Dollar Store. Although to be fair what else did anyone expect from director Mike Tollin creator and producer of such gems as All That, The Amanda Show, Kenan & Kel, and One Tree Hill. Combine all those television shows together and you have enough teen angst, melodrama, and bad acting to make Mischa Barton vomit.

Screenwriters Kevin Falls and John Gatin's characters are more transparent than wax paper. Prinze's Ryan is typical and cliche. The athlete with talent but anger issues who is struggling to get out of his hometown and away from his father's landscaping business. Prinze often turns to his brother Mike Dunne (Jason Gendrick) for advice. I only bring this up to point out the fact that Jason Gendrick was in Iron Eagle demonstrating that there are so many has-beens in Summer Catch it is a wonder that Leif Garrett didn't do the soundtrack. Prinze's "acting" ability doesn't stretch much behind brooding glances and longing looks at love interest Tenley. (Seriously Tenley? How pretentious of a name is that?) Prinze's relationship with Tenley is the been there-done that story of poor boy/rich girl from two different families that belongs on an After School Special. Biel's acting is equally atrocious. She had a a better chance of Summer Catch being her big breakaway from 7th Heaven than Ozzie Guillen being intelligible...ever. Biel's only purpose in this film is to seemingly look hot. It's a one trick pony that somehow has kept her employed for over a decade now. At one point Tenley actucally mows Ryan's lawn to show much she cares about him marking the first time Jessica Biel has ever mowed a lawn. Her character has little substance and possesses no redeeming qualities.

And let's not forget about supporting character and Ryan's friend Billy Brubaker, played by acting virtuoso Matthew Lillard. Lillard plays a catcher who finds he can't hit with a wooden bat. What is Ryan's solution to the problem? Hook him up with Dede Mulligan (Britany Murphy) the local town slut. Apparently Ryan thinks the solution to Brubaker's hitting woes is to give him gonorrhea. The only thing more preposterous than Ryan's solution is that it actually works.

As if the ridiculous nature of the "plot," the horrible acting, putrid directing, sloppy editing by Harvey Rosenstock, and sub-par cinematography by Tim Suhrstedt wasn't enough, the most infuriating thing was the actual representation of baseball in this film. Aside from occasionally throwing in baseball terminology like "tweener" and "dink" Summer Catch also manages to stereotype women like Tenley who don't know what a no-hitter is. The worst is the final scenes in the film where Ryan is of course pitching the "big game." Somehow he pulls it all together (after advice from the Iron Eagle brother) and manages to increase the velocity on his fastball from 85 mph at the beginning of the game to 96 mph by the eighth inning. And the person measuring that velocity and scouting? The real Hank Aaron. Just sad that he'd be in this movie. Want to go one better? Ryan actually leaves with one out to go in a no-hitter to chase down Tenley. Yeah that makes sense. I've know you a month but I'm going to pass up a no-hitter to track you down before you get on a plane. Yes this movie is so cliche that Ryan stops Tenley from getting on a plane.

It all works out in the end though (of course) as Ryan gets the girl and a minor league contract with the Batavia Muckdogs. In the movie's bizarre coda we see Ryan several years later pitching for the Philadelphia Phillies and giving up a HR to Ken Griffey Jr. By this time I was wishing it would be a comebacker that would destroy Prinze's face. No such luck though. Oh well at least that was end of the movie.

Summer Catch represents everything that is wrong with Hollywood. By using a formulaic system (i.e getting a bunch of fresh hot faces, put them in a movie that barely has a script, fill it with a lot of longing and see what happens) the producers create another drek filled, painfully unwatchable film that panders to teens and horny high-schoolers. Summer Catch is a strikeout of massive proportions.

My rating (and I rarely do this): 0/10


  1. @Corrye - Is it wrong that I wouldn't be surprised if each one of those characters ended up in a porn one day? Seriously. This has to be one of the most epically bad movies of all time.

  2. Worst baseball movie of all time? Not in any universe where "The Scout" exists.

  3. @Justin - What about Angels in the Outfield starring Tony Danza, Danny Glover, Christopher Lloyd, and the kid from 3rd Rock from the Sun. That movie was a travesty. Even God hated that movie.

  4. Angels in the Outfield is no doubt terrible in every way, but it's still just a fairly harmless kids movie. I'd rather watch that and all of its direct-to-VHS sequels than watch one minute of The Scout again. Chip, have you seen this movie? It's a movie about baseball that doesn't understand the basic rules and strategy of baseball. This would be a good post here, a breakdown of all the illogical things in The Scout.

  5. Justin thanks for the tip. I might have to do that. doesn't involve me watching The Scout again which could be bad.