Summer Catch

Summer Catch, the duel-meaning title, is such a dreadfully dull experience. I don’t know who went into this and thought “This will be a good idea and audiences will love it.” Perhaps I’m too far removed from the target audience — pre-teens, I’d assume — to really get any enjoyment out of it, but I can’t even try to see how anyone would like this movie. It tries to blend together a romance and a baseball movie, and utterly fails at both.

The first mistake was casting Freddie Prinze Jr. in the lead role. He plays Ryan Dunne, a pitcher who has finally gotten his chance to play in front of the scouts. Cape Cod is where a lot of baseball players go in order to jump start a professional career, and Dunne is a local boy who works cutting lawns. He also has a wicked fastball. So, now that he’s finally getting his shot, we’re going to get a story about a man using sheer determination in order to get past all of life’s issues. Those are not exclusive to baseball, either, as he also has to overcome family problems and he has also fallen for the girl of a rich family, Tenley (Jessica Biel). Yikes.

Now, hold on a minute here. I just said that determination and tenacity would be able to overcome all of these issues. One might expect that some sort of determination might get involved in the film if this was the case. I didn’t see it. Dunne pitches a bunch, and he does the whole rich-girl-poor-boy storyline, but he never really does anything that an audience member could misconstrued as “inspiring.” He just goes about his business for 100 minutes.

It’s because of this that I don’t really understand what Summer Catch wants to do. The romance never brings any conflict to the picture — it’s obvious that the two characters are so in love that there’s no way for them to not figure everything out in the end — and the baseball scenes also seem to just work themselves out. Throw in a contrived scene which allows Dunne to pitch in the biggest game of the summer, and you can see exactly where the film is going at every turn.

So, if the baseball scenes bring with them no tension, and the romance has no drama, what does Summer Catch have going for it? The family subplot, which is barely touched on? The secondary stories involving the other team members? Absolutely nothing? I’m kind of convinced that it’s the last of those choices, because as far as I’m concerned, there is barely anything to this film. It fails as a drama, a comedy, a romance, a sports movie, or even as thoughtless entertainment. I can’t think of a reason to watch this film.

Oh, I suppose watching it to laugh at it might be a good riot. The characters in the film are frequently drinking, so if that’s something you do, gather some friends and indulge with them for something to laugh at for the film’s running time. The dialogue is so terrible that you’ll be sure to get some good chuckles out of it. It’s so melodramatic even though the situations surrounding the lines don’t call for that. And most of the dialogue being delivered by Prinze Jr. doesn’t help, either.

I mean, I get that the young girls like looking at him, but he’s so terrible in almost every scene. He’s got maybe two facial expressions, the most prominent of which is the deer-in-the-headlights look that rarely fits, especially in scenes that are supposed to be intimate. He looks scared for most of his time on-screen. His co-stars aren’t much better, although they can at least deliver their lines with sincerity — which the film doesn’t call for. It just doesn’t fit, I guess, for a film like this one to have everyone talk like every moment is life or death.

I’d call Summer Catch a lighthearted, innocent little movie, but then I’m reminded of a very mean-spirited gag, which involves one of the baseball players beginning a relationship with a larger woman, and everyone berating him for doing so by making fun of anyone who is on the slightly larger side. It in no way makes up for that, so you can only assume that this is what some of the filmmakers believe. (PS: She’s not really that large, which makes the misguided joke miss even more.)

What else do we have? Well, Brittany Murphy plays the promiscuous woman of the town, donning such a heavy accent that some of the things she says are unintentionally hilarious. Then again, so are many of the things in the movie, so that’s not even all that special.

There’s nothing to Summer Catch. It’s a dull movie filled with poor performances, awful dialogue, a melodramatic tone that doesn’t fit with the rest of the movie, situations that seem to resolve themselves, and characters that have no business being in movies, for they’re so lacking in personality and depth that they’d work better as a bookmark. The only joy one can get out of this movie is if they decide to gather some friends and watch it for a laugh. Even then, there are better movies to make fun of and better things to do with your (and your friends’) time. Baseball fans will not enjoy Summer Catch and neither will those who want to see a good romance. I can’t think of a single reason to watch this movie.

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