Directed by Michael Tollin
Review by Evelyn Gildrie-Voyles <email@example.com>
I am a sucker for 80's rich/poor romances. I love them. Summer Catch basically follows the same formula as Pretty In Pink except that it's the boy that's from the wrong side of the tracks, and he can play baseball instead of sew dresses. There's still a wacky sidekick, quirky characters, and evil rich people as well as the happy ending where the poor kid gets the rich kid after he finds self-worth through his special talent.
Here's the premise: hothead local, Ryan Dunne (Freddie Prinze Jr.) gets a chance to play in the Cape Cod Summer League. Apparently playing for the Cape Cod A's is one step away from the minors, and the team draws in the best college talent from across the country. Dunne has been kicked out of two separate colleges for his temper and this summer is his last chance. Taking his mind off baseball is his forbidden romance with rich Tenley Parrish (Jessica Biel), whose snobbish parents summer at Cape Cod.
Summer Catch has a lot going for it. All the supporting characters and side plots are great. Zena Grey is delightful as a young A's fan searching for the perfect mascot. Matthew Lillard is his usual amusing self. He gets by far the best lines but not nearly enough screen time. Marc Blucas, Wilmer Valderrama, Fred Ward, Brian Dennehy and Brittany Murphy are all quite good and horribly underused. Especially effective as Dunne's local life-long friend is Gabriel Mann, a wonderful young actor with a horrible agent. His other films are Josie and the Pussycats and Cherry Falls.
Here's the problem: Freddie Prinze Jr. How did he get cast as a hothead working-class kid with a bad temper? With his big dewy eyes and his clean-cut smile, Prinze looks a sweet preppy kid, not a pile of college age angst and anger. All the characters in the movie talk about Dunne's temper and inner fear of success but the audience never gets to see any sign of it. In the 80's this role would have been played by Matt Dillon or at least Tom Cruise. It would not have been played by Andrew McCarthy; he was the sweet guy of the 80's. Prinze is the sweet guy of the 90's. He can't play tortured, insecure, or even angry very effectively. He doesn't have range and he wouldn't need it if people would just cast him correctly.
Still, the movie is enjoyable thanks to the side characters and it has a rare appearance by Beverly D'Angelo, so it might be worth renting some day or at least watching on cable.
For more information, go to the Internet Movie Database:
Summer Catch (2001)
Video Pick of the Week
Guide to Star Ratings