Summer Catch

Reviewed By Chris Parry
Posted 10/21/04 12:19:54

"I thought after three strikes you were out: Freddie Prinze Jr has had nine."
1 stars (Total Crap)

You know why you don't see Matt Damon and Ben Affleck in movies together any more? Because they're adults, and they understand that if you're always in the same scenario, you'll never move up to better things. Freddie Prinze Jr and Matthew Lillard have clearly never read that chapter of Acting 101, and it'd be a fair assumption to say they haven't read any of the other chapters either. In fact, I'd guess that reading - period - might be pretty low on the pair's 'to do' list. Acting sure as hell is. Anyway, this film is dogshit.

Freddie Prinze Jr, otherwise known as Personality Vaccuum, is Ryan Dunne, a Cape Cod-born pitcher who wants to get into the majors, and has as his first step the task of impressing the scouts during a summer of minor league ball. Great - I love baseball movies!

Sadly, this is a baseball movie with no baseball, no movie, and absolutely no love involved.

"I hate wood bats, that's why they invented aluminum."

These are the words Matthew Lillard's character utters as he strikes out for the umpteenth time. But why would the make-up of a bat matter when he STRUCK OUT?! Aluminum and wood are the same shape, they weigh about the same, so what on earth is this loser talking about?

He's talking about utter crap - words designed and scribed by West Wing hack Kevin Falls, who one would have to assume has never actually sat down and watched a baseball game if this screenplay is anything to go by. There's more baseball in Bridges of Madison County than there is in this horseshit, and the absolute lack of attention to detail shown by the filmmakers is only the first of thousands of beefs a thinking person would have with this film. For example, there are two players on Ryan's team who have the number 26. In the credits, where the Philadelphia Phillies players are listed, Bobby Abreu's name is shown as Bobby Abreau. Good god, if you're going to make a movie about a sport, at least have the first clue how things are done in that sport.

Freddie Prinze Jr throws like a girl, and I know this because whenever he's about to pitch the ball, the camera cuts away to something else. In fact, if you freeze frame with your DVD player, you can see just before the shot cuts away that he's a big, sissy, chest hair-free, strawberry Shortcake-owning girly man. You're in a baseball movie - learn to throw a ball, you fucking hack!

I like to play a game when I'm watching a truly awful movie, and that game is 'count the cliches'. The cliche record is held by an Asian film called The Returner, with 62 cliches that I could name, but Summer Catch gave a really solid run at the record by coming up with 46. Try these out for size:

* Fred Ward plays the drunk, no-good dad. Original!
* There's a jealous older brother who missed his shot at fame and now hates the younger brother for his success.
* The lead is a poor, white teenager who grew up on the wrong side of the tracks and never had nuffink.
* His mom died when he was young and he's never got over it.
* He's in love with the rich girl in town, who is secretly down to earth even though her friends are asssholes.
* Her dad is a rich white guy who won't tolerate his daughter dating below her standing.
* He offers the guy money to leave her alone.
* She says the wrong thing and he freaks, walking out on her... until she wins him back.
* His baseball team has a hateful ass, a latino, a wise ass catcher and a guy who keeps to himself.
* Our lead starts the season terribly, but manages to show spots of brilliance until his family cleans up their act and inspires him to greatness.
* Girls who aren't size 2 or less are ridiculed continuously as fat pigs.
* Britanny Murphy plays a dirty skank (double points for predictability!).
* Every game has a play by play sports announcer who can be heard all over the ground, even though baseball teams never have such things at their stadium.
* Every ten minutes, someone decides they're quitting, but they don't.

I could go on, but I'm boring you to tears, which means you've already experienced the cumulative effect of watching Summer Catch. There isn't a single aspect of this film that isn't cliche, crap, sub-standard or heinous. There isn't a single person involved who can look back on this production and call it a career highpoint. There isn't a word of dialogue that isn't cringe-inducing. There isn't a character that I'd piss on if he or she were on fire. Heck, even the production design is terrible - for example, instead of using newspaper pages to identify when time has passed and the season has reached a milestone, Summer Catch uses website pages, which might be fine if they were actual website pages and not URLs that begin with 'file:///" - I mean, hell, did nobody care about anything on this film?

Jessica Biel, who I dig a lot, looks like she's trying to speak Mandarin as she works her tongue around this mangling of the English language, trying her best to make it appear intelligent, or funny, or even not painful. She's a genuinely good actress, in my eyes at least, but you'd never know it watching her plodding through these, the most dreadful lines written since the last Mariah Carey movie.

It's a real testimony to how diabolical a film is that a reviewer can go through a page of bitching about it without really getting to the fact that Freddie Prinze Jr is in the thing. He is to acting what George Bush is to elocution. He is to acting what the nation of Gabon is to space research. He is to acting what diarrhea is to sandwich fillings. He is to acting what Paris Hilton is to elegance and grace. Put simply, the two don't belong on the same planet.

If Freddie Prinze Jr said tomorrow that he would never act again if someone would send him their pinky finger in the mail, I'd start sharpening my knives. If he volunteered his skills as an acting coach, he could single handedly destroy the industry inside three days. He is so bad that CarrotTop makes obscene phone calls to him in the middle of the night, screaming "stop making movies, you're killing the industry!" He is so devoid of taste that Jeffrey Dahmer would have spat him out. He is so personality-free that eighteen different colleges have offered him scholarships to learn accounting. He is so unmanly that Nathan Lane once kicked his ass for being 'too queeny'. He is so devoid of ability that short buses stop by his home on a regular basis so the driver can ask his parents "are you still in denial or can we take him now?"

I could go on and on... In fact, I think I will.

Freddie Prinze Jr has his father spinning so hard in his grave that the casket gives off 600MW of electrical power every four hours. He's so dumb that they have to lock the honeywagons on set during all meal breaks so Freddie doesn't eat the urinal cakes. He's such a waste of space that the Trading Spaces crew turned him into a beautiful yet functional end table, using only plywood, tin foil and 18 cents worth of lace. He has so little idea of what's going on in the world that he thinks 'the war on terror' is a war being fought against Kane Hodder and Robert Englund. He's so devoid of talent that his films have a label on the video cover that warns "Children who watch Freddie Prinze Jr movies perform poorly in class, earn less in later life, and often die of cerebral hemorrhage while sitting on the john."

That said, go rent Summer Catch. Then smash it with a fucking great hammer, so that the next witless fool that doesn't read reviews before he rents movies isn't subjected to the same pain I was subjected to.

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