This film plays like some sort of circus game where director Michael Tollin attempts to make a film with more clichés in it than a Tony Robbins Personal Achievement Weekend.
Tollin might have just done it. Let's roll the highlights:
* Ryan Dunne (Freddie Prinze, Jr.) is a pitcher in the developmental league with a confidence problem.
* Ryan's mom died before her time and he's not quite over it.
* Ryan has a brother (Jason Gedrich) who was a good player but "didn't quite make it."
* Ryan's father (Fred Ward) mows lawns for a living, drinks, and belittles his son, but really has a good heart. Oh, he also has pride.
* Ryan falls for Tenley Parrish (Jessica Biel), whose lawn he mows.
* Tenley's father (Bruce Davison) doesn't like the fact that his daughter is going out with the boy who mows the lawn and sets her up with a rich boy.
* Tenley resents her father and sees Ryan anyway.
* Tenley says things like, "Forget them. What do YOU want?" and "You want big rewards? You gotta take big risks."
* In one house in this New England town, a woman (Beverly D'Angelo) sleeps with the young ballplayers and helps them become men.
Tenley's bad lines are indicative of the entire script, which gives off a distinct odor leading one to suspect it may have been written by the same people who write press material. There's nothing of actual substance in the film. It's as if the filmmakers were so desperate for an emotional response that they resorted to begging the audience directly, whether via the clichéd script, the blunt acting, or the helpful subtitles such as "Now Ryan is sad."
Naturally, there's another pitcher on the team who is better than Ryan, so Ryan sits on the bench until this guy does something really stupid, giving Ryan his shot to prove he's a winner. This allows him to:
* Prove to himself that he's not a choker.
* Prove to his crotchety coach (Brian Dennehy) that the coach wasn't mistaken in believing in him.
* Prove to his father that everyone in the family isn't a failure.
* Prove to his brother that the brother's last-minute encouragement speech was Tony Robbins caliber.
* Prove to Tenley that he loves her.
* Prove to the audience that by not leaving midway through the film, they've managed to waste both their money and their time.
If this film accomplishes one thing, it's to illustrate that Freddie Prinze Jr. is about as interesting as a piece of dog poo. Worse, now that he's past his "teenage heartthrob" stage, Freddie is essentially yesterday's dog poo, dried out and withered and not even attracting the flies anymore. The only way the filmmakers could hide this fact was to cast Jessica Biel opposite him.
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