Retro Review: Summer Catch

Ryan Dunne (Freddie Prinze Jr.) has a dream. He wants more than anything to be a professional baseball pitcher. Ryan has an assorted past which includes the sudden death of his mother, a failed baseball player brother (Jason Gedrick) and a lawn maintenance father (Fred Ward). Ryan has come to Cape Cod to try to play in the century year old Cape Cod minor league. Ryan has been cutting grass in Cape Cod all his life and making it here would be one of the pinnacles of his life.

Support and companionship comes to Ryan through an overly sexual catcher (Mathew Lillard), a spoiled and confused rich girl (Jessica Biel) and his baseball team’s coach (Brian Dennehy). Finding his dream and realizing it may just happen if Ryan can keep himself and the problems around him in check.

“Summer Catch” probably should have been entitled “Summer Cliché” with all its obvious and uninteresting events and characters. From Bruce Davison’s rich daddy portrayal to Jessica Biel’s neurotic rich girl to Brian Dennehy’s always understanding coach, there seems to be a cliché here for every occasion. Like in all “Freddie Prinze” films, you have a real thin “romantic-comedy” plot mixed with the next rising starlet and Freddie’s smoldering good looks.

It must be hard for Freddie as a serious actor to keep making these kinds of films. But “Catch” must be the most embarrassing of all because with his other films there was at least an attempt at originality.

Freddie's cheesecake shot

“Summer Catch” suffers from a major identity crisis that leaves us wondering what kind of film this is trying to be. At one moment, you have a “typical” teen-sex comedy and the next a film trying to pay homage to the great baseball comedy, “Bull Durham”. This fracture in identity could swing back to the film having two writers.

Writer team of Kevin Falls and John Gatin really never gelled in this script. They seem to just open the “cliché” dictionary and point out which one they can incorporate. Falls is mainly a TV writer who has written “The West Wing”, “Sports Night” and the upcoming NBC comedy “Scrubs”.

Gatin is mostly an actor whose comedy-writing claim to fame was the wrestling buddy comedy “Ready to Rumble”. With this oil-and-water duo, you can really see which identity belongs to which writer.

I found the heavily clichéd characters a distraction from the comedy but I did really like Lillard and his energy. I can’t wait for him to re-team with Freddie in next summer’s live-action “Scooby Doo” movie where Lillard plays Shaggy.

But if it weren’t for him in this movie there would really be nothing to watch. Maybe one other thing would be Jessica Biel’s obvious youth appeal but really she doesn’t show anything more here than a Monica Potter or Rachel Leigh Cook would.

One last thing that is kind of interesting is when Jason Gedrick and Freddie look at each other in the eyes.

It is almost like they are looking in the mirror because in the 1980’s Gedrick had the same star power as Freddie has today. With films like “Iron Eagle”, “Iron Eagle II” and the “Heavenly Kid”, Gedrick was on top. In his latter career, his acting talent really began to emerge but it took him a while to get there. Will this happen to Freddie?

The latter part I refer to is Gedrick’s performances in TV series like “Murder One”, “Last Don”, “Falcone” and “EZ Streets”; he has shown his true range of acting. I hope that he can continue on the big screen as a serious actor. I really like him.

“Summer Catch” will appeal to all the pubescent teen girls out there who love Freddie and maybe one or two “baseball” movie fans but for the most part it’s very uninteresting.

(1.5 out of 5)

So Says the Soothsayer.

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