Joe R returns with a take on Summer Catch that is less "review" and more "Surgeon General's warning," a measure the film community should considered adopting if only to protect Brian Dennehy from himself. (This is the second crappy summer movie he's turned up in in three days; I would say he's becoming a leitmotif, but…it's Dennehy. He ain't a "leit-" anything.)
Just to get this out of the way: Summer Catch is not a good movie. It's not a good summer movie, it's not a good baseball movie, it is not a good movie. It is a bad movie. It's a very bad movie that wanted very badly to be Bull Durham, but, you know, updated for the kids today. But no matter how many ballplayers wear ladies' underpants, or how many chatty conversations take place on the pitcher's mound, this is no Bull Durham. And Jessica Biel's Tenley Parrish (…Jesus) is no Annie Savoy.
Summer Timeline: Freddie Prinze Jr. gets a summer to play minor-(minor-minor-)league ball, impress some scouts, finally win the approval of his father and brother, and get into the pants of the daughter of the rich guy whose lawn he cuts. He's surrounded by what was a veritable Who's Who of the WB network at the time: Jessica Biel, Matthew Lillard, Marc Blucas, Wilmer Valderrama, Christian Kane, and Brittany Murphy, who I realized while watching this gave the quintessential white-trash performance that forever defined how I thought of her.
Enviable Vacation Locale?: They're on Cape Cod, so fuck yeah it's enviable. I can picture myself there right now, in fact. Screw the rest of the write-up, I'll see you in two weeks…
Coming Of Age: I…guess so. I suppose it'd be easier to tell if Freddie Prinze Jr. could act worth a damn and sell the storyline better. There is absolutely no way to buy him as the self-destructive, moody fuckup that the (admittedly meager and clichéd) story needs him to be. He can barely remember whether he's supposed to have a Massachusetts accent from scene to scene. Emotional complexity is just a bridge too far.
Quick-Burning Summer Romance: The less said about the Prinze-Biel "romance" the better. I would pay her money to stop attempting to cry right now. And may we never speak of that final scene at the airfield ever again.
Unconventional Ways To Beat The Heat?: Do bar fights cool you down? Because they do a lot of bar-fighting. Also a lot of really unrealistic and pedestrian "kinky" sex (anyone who wants to try explaining how Beverly D'Angelo shoving a cucumber up her cooch is supposed to make Fez better at baseball can be my guest).
Quality Of Beach/Summer Fashions: I will say this: the baseball uniform does a lot to flatter folks like Prinze and Blucas and Kane and Lillard. Also, in the interests of full disclosure, I should note that Corey Pearson as the asshole rival pitcher with the terribly frosted poof of hair totally did it for me. No, his particular brand of gum-chomping sarcasm and baseless hatred wasn't breaking any new ground in cinematic villainy, but that didn't stop me from whooping "CUUUTE!" every time he wandered onscreen. …Hey, I had to find something to enjoy in this steaming pile.
Worth The A/C?: Oh my, no. …Though, actually, if you gather together the right mixture of bitchy friends and booze, you might be able to make a go of it.
Overall Suitability As Summer Movie: C
Tags: 12 Days Of Summer Movies