[box cover]

Summer Catch

Let's talk about titles. Movies no longer have titles. As has often been said, they have labels. They may be punning labels, but they are labels nonetheless. Take Summer Catch. On the surface, the title isn't much. It's a label that makes the movie sound like a typical, anonymous straight-to-video teen film. Here, the movie is about summer baseball leagues, laid over a common and predictable love story between a lower-class guy and a rich girl. The working class hero is Ryan Dunne (Freddie Prinze, Jr.), an aspiring major league pitcher toiling away as a lawn boy in Cape Cod. Here's where the puns come in. He "catches" balls, of course, but his biggest "catch" is something called Tensley Parrish (Jessica Biel), the daughter of the summering local mogul (Bruce Davison). The movie catalogs the ways that Dunne must overcome his personal demons so that he can pitch better, as well as learn to accept the love of a good woman who adores him despite his questionable income potential. Summer Catch has a wealth of great character actors, including Fred Ward, Brian Dennehy, Brittany Murphy, and John C. McGinley, along with Dick Allen and Hank Aaron, but they are wasted on this bit of fluff, and the appalling Matthew Lillard is thrown into the mix to further annoy. But let us also talk of Freddie Prinze, Jr.: At what point in the history of show business did it appear to powerful people that Prinze would be an ideal choice for leading roles? True, he is a blandly solid, American-looking male, perhaps even very pretty to some, and bearing his late father's moniker gives him name recognition. But perhaps he is too pretty. The off-kilter features of a Brad Pitt or Tom Cruise give those actors individuality and character that others like Prinze, who are conventional looking, don't have. Certainly he is coveted for his appearance (as his fiancée, actress Sarah Michelle Gellar, insisted that he use a "butt double" for his role in this film), but Prinze's appeal to starlets and movie producers, though not necessarily to the public, is one of the many mysteries left unexplored in Summer Catch. TV series producer turned neophyte movie director Michael Tollin does an adequate TV-style job on the script credited to John Gatins (along with West Wing contributor Kevin Falls). Their yack-track on the disc qualifies for the Unbearable Sadness of Audio Commentaries category. Other supplements on this Warner Home Video release include 11 minutes of deleted scenes and cast and crew bios. The anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) is fine, with an adequate Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack (other options include Quebec French 5.1, and English 2.0 Surround, as well as English, French, and Spanish subtitles). Snap-case.
—D.K. Holm



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