Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Movie Review: Summer Catch

Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Most of the acting
Cons: Very poor writing
The Bottom Line:
Getting movie out
Of my system was mostly
Painless, but not great

Freddie Prinze Jr. and Jessica Biel Barely Get a Base Hit in Summer Catch

Don't ask me why I sometimes get a fascination with a movie.  I remember when Summer Catch first came out, I wanted to see it.  And, while I never made it to the theater, that interest never left.  I finally recorded it when it was on TV, but let it sit on my DVR for months.  Maybe my subconscious was trying to tell me something because the movie isn't bad, but it's not worth rushing out to see, either.

Ryan Dunne (Freddie Prinze Jr.) has the chance of a lifetime.  This summer, he's part of the prestigious Nantucket baseball league, the league that the pro scouts use to find new talent.  Considering his tendency to crash and burn, he needs to cut all distractions out of his life.

But a beautiful distraction comes in the form of Tenley Parrish (Jessica Biel).  The Parrishes and some of the wealthy "Summer People" Ryan and his father take care of the Parrish family yard work.  The two are definitely from different classes, but they connect right away.  Will they overcome their differences?  Can Ryan realize his dream of playing professional baseball?

I was actually surprised how big a part baseball played in the film.  I honestly thought it would be a romantic comedy with baseball playing a small part.  Yes, the romantic storyline was the main story, but Ryan's baseball hopes were a strong parallel story.  Fortunately, it was interesting enough that this non-sports guy actually cared about that part of the story as well.

The writing almost sinks the movie.  We've got every cliche from sports and romantic movies here for your enjoyment.  Frankly, some of those provide the best laughs, like the first time Ryan sees Tenley.  Still, I was hoping for one or two twists along the way that I didn't see coming from the get go.  Instead, everything proceeded as planned until we reached the predictable climax.

The characters are also very poorly drawn.  A couple of times, they changed their attitudes just to serve the plot.  These scenes made me want to stand up and cheer, but they also bothered me because they weren't backed up by anything that had come before.

The actors took a mediocre script and managed to save it.  I'll admit that Freddie Prinze Jr. is only okay as an actor, and that hurts the movie when he has to get serious.  But he plays the comedy well.  Jessica Biel is quite adept at playing both serious and funny.  I often find Matthew Lillard annoying, but his supporting character of Billy grew on my quickly.  I actually began to look forward to his appearances.  While no one stands out from the rest of the cast, they all make the most of their parts.

In the end, I hadn't missed much by skipping Summer Catch.  If you are a fan of someone in the cast, you will probably enjoy seeing them.  Otherwise, feel free to skip it.

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