… has to be Summer Catch, which seems to be on HBO every other second this week.
For those readers who missed it, Summer Catch stars Freddie Prinze, Jr. as Ryan Dunne, a mediocre college pitcher/Cape Cod native who somehow manages to make it into the Cape’s highly-thought-of summer baseball league. Once there he meets Tenley Parrish (played by Jessica Biel). Predictably, the two fall in love, offer the audience a dazzling array of never-ending monologues about commitment and baseball and whatnot (Biel: “What are you so scared of?” Prinze: “I’m not scared! Scared of what?”) and then, well, yeah. The movie ends, and we are saved.
So why is Summer Catch so horrific?
• The acting: At the expense of sounding cruel, one could announce a casting call for TWO WORST ACTORS IN THE WORLD and not luck into the likes of Prinze and Biel. Both likeable, both attractive … but as wooden as a Starbucks table. I’d once have gladly made the argument that Prinze is the worst thespian in the history of the world—but people say he’s solid on 24. So that honor must go to Biel, whose good looks only go so far.
• The baseball: Prinze looks like a pitcher when he’s standing still. Then the action start, and he gives the impression of a righty using the wrong hand. His catcher–a “top prospect”—weighs about 12 pounds, and the exaggerated swings from so-called “sluggers” evoke John Goodman in The Babe. The worst part, however, is the importance lavished upon Cape League baseball. In this film, every game is HUGE. Every moment is VITAL. When Prinze is told he has to start a big game, he loses sleep (and composure) because the rival team has two top sluggers “who have been tearing the cover off the ball.” Then there’s Curt Gowdy, who just so happens to be the team’s broadcaster for the summer. Because, eh, that’s exactly what, uh, a broadcaster of, mmmm, Gowdy’s stature … would do …. bleh … with his free time. Call Chatham A’s games for local radio.
• The plot: Which doesn’t really exist. I think it has something to do with Biel’s bellybutton, which serves as a third co-star. Or maybe it has to do with Prinze’s teeth, which are bright and shiny. Or, most probably, it has to do with me jabbing a sharp pencil through my temple and bleeding to death as the credits roll.