Rarely do my obsessions with movies and reality TV crossover, but it has with 2015’s Pitching Love and Catching Faith. Starring ‘Vanderpump Rules’ cast member LaLa Kent, the film follows two community college athletes who deal with the trials of religious-induced chaste courtship. The film has managed to achieve a 2.7/5 stars on Amazon and 5.2/10 points on IMDb because people agree with the morals shown in the movie. However, unlike a lot of So Bad It’s Good choices from earlier in this series, and the typical “message movie”, Pitching Love and Catching Faith isn’t simply “cheesy” or “cliche”, it’s just plain bad. Like, really, obnoxiously terrible, and that’s what makes it such an incredible watch. Your palm won’t ever leave your face as you listen to the terribly edited audio that bumbles around the Jesus-related tension.
Pitching Love and Catching Faith is the first feature film from Star Mountain Pictures. It was originally titled Romance in the Outfield, and its tagline was “It’s how you play the game…” It’s unclear when the title was changed; a Mormon publication from March of 2015 shows the original title still in use in an (overly generous) C+ review.
The film was written and directed by Randy and Rebecca Sternberg. Here’s the unedited plot description straight from the film’s defunct website:
“Heather an attractive, competitive, softball player, sweet and sassy-who is used to winning…but with guys she tends to strike out once they find out she’s not their type. He’s a competitive baseball player, charming, and Saintly, who hasn’t kissed…
So what happens when Heather tries to get his first kiss, and Tyler tries to win her heart to help launch his baseball career? It results in a head-on competition igniting a series of of light-hearted ploys of cat-and-mouse chase that will keep interested to the end. To top it off falling in love wasn’t part of their plan…so now Tyler must choose between his dream, and Heather. And she must choose between love, and loneliness.”
Tyler and Heather.
You can’t be serious, guys.
You’re putting your art out into the world, and you can’t have one editor look it over? Who looked at this and thought they did a good job? Not to mention the fact that the script and acting are fairly dissonant with the ideas presented in this blurb.
Heather is attractive and used to winning, and I’m supposed to buy that she’s unlucky in love? Guys find out she wants to kiss them and they’re running for the hills? Yeah, if there’s one thing I know about 20-something guys, it’s that they hate when successful, beautiful women try to flirt with them.
And that’s all it ever is in this movie – there are no mentions of sex, or anything sex-adjacent that isn’t kissing. Well, there is one instance of an attempted foot-job, but we’ll get to that later…
Whether or not a guy and girl that definitely like each other will date and/or kiss is the tension at the heart of this film, and it’s not as gripping as the filmmakers expected it to be. The “will they, won’t they” is laughably nonsensical, and the plot isn’t a twisting and turning display of passion, it’s clumsy and less able to keep track of itself than I am. Character motivations are revealed through dialogue and then treated like a mystery. “So, Tyler, why don’t you kiss” gets several explanations throughout this movie. There are clever ways to do misinterpretation/miscommunication plots, like Burn After Reading. Unfortunately, this isn’t a black comedy, so every questionable decision was made in the hopes of increasing drama and tension. It also doesn’t help that basically every moment is punctuated with orchestral music that would fit better in a Donald Duck short than a baseball drama.
And that’s another giant sticking point with this movie – just because your characters are said to play a sport doesn’t mean that your movie is about that sport. You have to show them actually playing it in some capacity, and show that in a way that means something to the plot.
Maybe two tragic lovers could keep missing each other’s games due to a rigorous sports schedule. Is it mundane? Yeah. But at least then the characters could have meaningful motivation that stems from their interests.
We get a very small number of brief scenes at baseball or softball practice when that is literally the only thing we know about these characters. The dialogue is always on about bats, balls, and what base Jesus says they’re allowed to get to before marriage. At least get some extras that actually know how to play the sport instead of the patients from a vertigo treatment clinic that got cast.
Baseball is certainly a fitting metaphor for the film’s ideas, though. The American pastime is currently plagued by a cheating scandal, the latest of many reasons the sport is losing popularity. It’s also far from the first scandal in baseball history – the White Sox threw the 1919 World Series (you may remember those guys in Field of Dreams), the game was segregated until 1947, cocaine was rampant in the 80s leading to the Pittsburgh drug trials, and the steroid era at the turn of the century has kept some of the “best” players out of the Hall of Fame because of their use of performance enhancing drugs.
Baseball is romanticized because it induces national nostalgia. Everyone played it as a kid, or at least grew up watching wholesome baseball movies that whitewash the game’s past. Pitching Love and Catching Faith wants to cash in on that free nostalgia, but will never bother to question the fundamental assumptions of its premise as it exists in a state of blissful ignorance of the harm religious views can have on romantic relationships. Putting physical actions on a pedestal is going to lead to a “Scarlett Letter” scenario – except the movie thinks that’s a good thing, apparently.