By Owen Gleiberman
Updated September 07, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT

Freddie Prinze Jr. has a look in his eye that is equal parts self-infatuation and boyish flash of fear. It’s a look that seems to ask, ”If THIS one isn’t a hit, am I going to go down as the new Judd Nelson?” The wanly watchable Summer Catch, a go-for-your-dream sports-and-sex comedy that casts Prinze as a ”blue-collar” pitcher in Cape Cod’s elite youth baseball league, could mark the commencement of Prinze’s Nelson-ization. He’s no more believable as a rebel landscaper/jock than Nelson was as a devil’s advocate in From the Hip, but it’s precisely out of such roles that future careers in bad sitcoms are sprung.

As the team’s token local striver, Prinze doesn’t just try to pitch his way to a minor-league contract. He trades up in babes, too, dumping trash kitten Brittany Murphy for WASP doll Jessica Biel, the rich girl whose lawn he mows. If the characters hadn’t already lost their virginity, this could be the ’80s all over again. Call it Damp Lukewarm American Summer.