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Movie Review

Summer Catch

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual content, language and some drinking

Reviewed by: Douglas Downs

Very Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teen to Young Adult
Comedy / Romance
1 hr. 50 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
August 24, 2001
Relevant Issues
Freddie Prinze Jr. and Jessica Biel in “Summer Catch”
Featuring: Freddie Prinze Jr, Jessica Biel, Brittany Murphy, Wilmer Valderrama, Matthew Lillard
Director: Michael Tollin, Mike Tollin
Producer: Michael Tollin, Mike Tollin, Brian Robbins, Sam Weisman
Distributor: Warner Brothers
Scene from “Summer Catch”

Marilyn Monroe once said of Hollywood, “Hollywood is where they will pay you $50,000 for a kiss and 50-cents for your soul”. Mark “Summer Catch” as yet another teen sell-out movie. it’s a tragic end to the dog days of the season. This canine-of-a-flic is just busy attracting more flies than catching them. Viewers get to watch (for almost 2 hours!) Jessica Biel and Freddie Prinze Jr. go nowhere but in circles around an extremely contrived story. (Hey baseball fans, you think the Texas Rangers are in a slump!) This movie is almost as bad as an earlier summer teen disappointment “Crazy/Beautiful” (and that’s pretty bad!).

Actress Jessica Biel has been quoted as saying she is trying to shed her “milk and cookie” image. Most know her as Mary Camden, the daughter of a minister on the hit TV family show “7th Heaven”. we’ve watched her generally wholesome character grow up in the parsonage of Rev. Camden. But this all changed in March 2001 when Ms. Biel posed seminude in a men’s magazine. Her reason? She wanted Spelling to fire her from the TV drama.

Other women have, unfortunately, been seen following the same slippery slope (Pamela Sue Martin from “Nancy Drew” to Playboy and Elizabeth Berkley from “Saved By the Bell” to “Showgirls”). Jessica has apologized to Mr. Spelling and will appear in the first 7 episodes of the new season (before she goes off to college).

Freddie Prinze Puppy-Dog-Eyes Jr. is currently cranking out about 2 teen films a year. he’s one of the most popular leading young men (earning about $2 million a picture). He is the son of the late Freddie Prinze, who took his life at age 22. Freddie Prinze Jr. told the “Sunday Parade Newspaper” insert that he found out this truth when he was 8. He also said, “Did you know I pray every day?” “I get in the shower every single day, get on my hands and knees and pray. I feel the need to thank God for everything. I’m not a drug addict. I wasn’t in a gang. I’m just a normal man who thanks God for every single thing he’s done for me” (August 19, 2001 Sunday Parade). It would be great if that thankfulness would help generate a positive on-screen-role-model for our youth.

But, teens, don’t be fooled by all the hype. “Summer Catch” is one foul ball you will want to miss. There are even some well-known critics (like Roger Ebert) that did not even bother with a review!

“Summer Catch” is about young college hopefuls spending the summer on Cape Cod. I’m a baseball fan and I have visited the leagues there. This film is an insult to the many hardworking college athletes who are trying to make it into the majors. Ryan Dunne (Freddie Prinze Jr.) is a blue collar local with a first class pitching arm. He has the notoriety of being the only townie (from Chatham Mass) chosen for the Cape’s elite league (imagine that!). When Ryan is not trying to throw strikes (and impress the Major League scouts), he is striking out with his alcoholic dad (Fred Ward). His brother (Jason Gedrick) also resents his attempts to break free from blue-collar life (I’ll pause as you wipe away a tear or two). Ryan is so focused on his dream of pitching in the big leagues that “he swears off women and booze” (that would help). it’s too bad he forgot to tell DeDe (Brittany Murphy). The two of them get drunk and fall asleep in the middle of the baseball field.

Ryan’s ambitious vow falls completely apart when he meets Tenley Parrish (Jessica Biel), conveniently vacationing with her wealthy family on the Cape. Our pitcher is smitten by Tenley while mowing her lawn. The two of them meet and we find out that Tenley has a dream too—that of becoming an architect (now that’s original). But her mean rich father is sending her off to San Francisco to join an investment-banking firm. I know I felt sorry for Ms. Parrish—her dad is Bruce Davison, who recently was the father to a rebellious girl in “Crazy/Beautiful”. This path of rich girl/poor boy is as worn out as the base-paths on any ball field (can I write the next story?…please?).

Ryan is surrounded by players who are also trying to focus on baseball (unconvincingly). We have Miles (Marc Blucas) who shares publicly his fetish for large women. And Billy Brubaker (Matthew Lillard), who uses his talents at catching to get DeDe. The players are further distracted by a Mrs. Robinson clone (Beverly D’Angelo) who likes to seduce young ball players. You know that the coach (Brian Dennehy) really has his work cut out for him now!

Have you lost interest yet in this loser? The film earns every minute of its PG-13 rating and then some! There is lots of profanity, sex, and women in very revealing clothes. How anyone could realize their dream and achieve greatness in that kind of environment is beyond me! I really think that the film writers Kevin Falls and John Gatins should have taken Tenley’s advise, “If you want big rewards, you’ve got to take big risks”. I know I would love to see Hollywood take the risk. wouldn’t you!?! My very strong recommendation is to skip this one and leave it in the ratings basement. I know this is the worst baseball film (and I have seen most) that I have ever seen (truly… who let the dogs out!)

Viewer Comments
I think this movie was pretty good overall. But it did have a few sex scenes. I think they could have left out the part with the character “Didi” in it. I found those scenes very offensive. It also has a few scenes with actors wearing thongs both male and female (but I thought that was very funny). I will probably never see it again.
My Ratings: [EAM / 2]
—Average, age 14
I was surprised at the extent of vulgarity in this movie (and I’m not just talkin’ about the language). I knew going in that it wouldn’t be tame, but I did not expect Beverly D’Angelo to an over-sexed college house mom (with a platter of veggies in her bedroom) either. Most of the kids will recognize Jessica Biels from 7th Heaven when they see a preview of this show, and naturally will want to go see it. Too bad Ms. Biel’s sense of good film roles, doesn’t give way to a sense of being a good “Role Model”. My children will not see this show!
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive / 2½]
—Evonne R. Hutto, age 35
…Matthew Lillard does a great job with delivering the humor. Freddie Prinze Jr. and Jessica Biel seemed to have a very good on-screen chemistry. They made a very cute couple and even were able to stay together despite what her dad thought of him. There were a couple of sexual references but no scenes of sex. A couple of thong scenes… Very funny and lots of cute guys…
My Ratings: [Average / 4]
—Sara, age 15
Movie Critics
…1 F-word, 1 profane hand gesture, 12 scatological terms, 7 anatomical terms, 9 sexual references, 13 mild obscenities, 2 religious profanities, 5 religious exclamations…
…sexually related dialogue… several sexual encounters are implied or occur off camera (in one such case we see an apparently nude couple in a sleeping bag and they put on the other’s underwear)…[a] middle-aged housemother repeatedly tries to seduce a young man (and apparently does sexual things with various vegetables)…Various people are seen in thong underwear…
…The script is laughable and trite…
—Chris Hewitt, The Kansas City Star
…Freddie Prinze Jr. and Matthew Lillard try to score on and off the field in Summer Catch, a film that aspires to spice baseball with sex. But the result is more bull than Bull Durham…
—Jack Garner, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle