Another school year, another movie featuring Freddie Prinze Jr. to review.
It's frustrating -- you would think that by now, such a popular young actor would have, I don't know, agents or managers or Good Samaritans who would warn him against appearing in such jumbled sophomoric films like "Summer Catch."
Prinze (with an appallingly fake Boston accent) plays Ryan Dunne, a homegrown summer league pitcher from Cape Cod trying to prove himself to his hotshot ballplayer peers. His mother's dead, he mows lawns with his dad -- basically all the cliched strikes are against him.
Then he meets Tenley Parrish (Jessica Biel), the girl with the rich family on the cape for the summer. They meet and fall in love against the wishes of her overbearing father. Ryan's trying to impress the big-time scouts, but all of the pressure is threatening his chances.
Presumably this romance is supposed to be the focal point of the film, but the writers threw in so much that it's easy to lose track of their courtship. Maybe that was intentional, as the romance is so boring that the distractions are welcome.
It's difficult to see why Ryan falls for Tenley when their scenes consist of his complaining and her uttering such articulate and profound statements as, "You have to allow yourself to succeed!"
While Biel shows charisma, her overacting is a problem in the frequent scenes where she simpers with rich-girl rage.
The lone bright spot in the movie is Matthew Lillard, who plays the catcher on Ryan's team. His goofiness livens things up, but an interesting subplot about his frustration is glossed over.
This is the biggest issue with "Catch": The filmmakers planted some interesting side stories but neglected them all to waste time on thong jokes and the town Mrs. Robinson, played by Beverly D'Angelo.
Ryan and his teammates all deal with the pressure of scouts, romances with local girls and rivalries amongst each other. For instance, Ryan and his brother share a deep resentment, but no reasoning for their rocky relationship is given.
Any one of these side stories would have provided a much more involving backdrop to the bland romance. Instead, each half-baked story was cobbled together with the rest to create a messy, boring whole.
The intended demographic of "Catch" will be happy with what they see since Prinze takes off his shirt on a regular basis. But I hope Freddie becomes more discriminating about his script choices or else he'll fade into Hollywood obscurity quicker than this movie does.
The Arts & Entertainment Editor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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