For those of you who like to take in the whole UPROXX experience across the entire network, you may be aware that I sometimes fill in for Vince at FilmDrunk when he’s out appearing at Champs stores as a Luke Walton lookalike. But when it comes to actually reviewing movies, I only really handle the truly horrible acts of Happy Madison, so when I was approached by a completely random stranger to review the indie film Summer League, I said, ‘Okay’. And thus the With Leather Sports Movie Review was born.
Summer League (2013)
Written by Kelli Horan
Directed by Lex Lybrand
Starring: Danielle Evon Ploeger, Kelsey Thomas, Gabriel Peña, Timothy Bowman, David Laurence, Kara Rainer
The problem with having only reviewed ungodly, terrible movies that often star Rob Schneider is that I’m not used to being able to talk about movies that I like without simply saying, “Yeah, that movie was rad.” And I don’t like talking about movies that I really like unless it’s RED, because when I talk about how much I love that movie, people get really pissed off and make fun of me, and that’s great. But even as I was wary about watching an indie film about “softball-versus-kickball”, I really enjoyed Summer League, because it wasn’t at all what I expected.
(Before I start, I didn’t agree to review this film because Brandon is in it. If anything, that really hurt its chances. Just kidding. Kind of.)
Unlike Summer Catch, which is the worst sports movie ever made (Freddie Prinze Jr.’s throwing mechanics were an abomination), Summer League is a sweet, sometimes-depressing tale of a girl who returns home from college for summer break, only to have her life unravel unexpectedly with the death of her mother. This major plot point is what I meant when I said it wasn’t at all what I expected. Remember when I said that a paragraph ago?
I guess having been both a Jim Rome “softball guy” and a kickball douche before, I was wrongly expecting a focus on those clichés. I didn’t want to watch a movie about softball bros (a la Beer League) clinging to some dream of being a pro baseball player even though it died with their childhoods, nor did I want to watch a movie about those girls who send out emails to remind everyone that the theme of Thursday night’s kickball game against Team Fart Knockers is 80s Movies. After all, I’ve lived those experiences and I loathe the man that I was in both eras of my life.
That said, Summer League ended up being more therapeutic than entertaining, although it was still thoroughly the latter. For as depressing as the film’s first act was, it was very well shot. I don’t typically notice things like that, but at several points, I said to my dog, “This is strangely beautiful”. Plus, the soundtrack was great, but now I feel like I’m Liz Lemon telling Jenna that The Rural Juror was great for all the wrong reasons, so I’ll get back on track.
There are two things that really roped me in with Summer League and made me feel like recommending it to you wonderful people.
1) Danielle Evon Ploeger as Allie. I hate to keep using the word depressing because it makes it sound like this is the most miserable film ever recorded, but because I thought I was walking into something else, Allie’s misfortune was like a sucker punch of happiness. But Ploeger is fantastic in the role, which I say as someone living with the stereotypical impression that all indie actors went to the Ben Affleck Academy of Emotionless Acting. (Sorry, but they can’t all be as gifted as Channing Tatum.)
Ploeger’s performance was a pleasant surprise in a superficial sense, but it much more importantly established the film’s incredible heart, especially paired with the delightful Kenzie (Kelsey Thomas) who helped talk me off of the ledge by the time she convinced Allie to join the softball team.
The other thing? Hoo boy, that other thing…
2) Timothy Bowman as Scott. If someone told me that I only had one sentence to convince them why they should watch Summer League, it would be “You will want to punch Scott into the next life because I guarantee you know someone just like him”. Scott is THAT GUY. He’s the dude who takes something as stupid and trivial as adult league kickball way too seriously, and damn it all to bloody red fiery hell if Bowman doesn’t play this guy to perfection.
FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY I WANTED TO REACH THROUGH MY SCREEN AND TEAR SCOTT’S SPINE OUT BECAUSE HE IS THAT F*CKING KICKBALL BRO WHO DOESN’T EVER SHUT UP AND YOU HAVE TO REMIND THE GIRLS ON YOUR TEAM TO COVER THEIR DRINKS AT THE AFTER PARTY I HATE HIM SO MUCH AND WANT TO SEE A SEQUEL WHERE HE’S JUST FED TO WOLVES FOR TWO HOURS.
So Bowman is great, too.
The only problem that I have with this film is minor at best, but this guy shows up and practically ruins the whole thing.
Seriously, he’s worse than The Rock.
Final Grade: Three out of four Philly Phanatics.
Next Up: 42, probably.
I want more like this!
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