Revision Vision: ‘The Catcher Was A Spy’

Revision Vision: revising the visions of misguided authors since 2018.

Spoofs tend to revel in exaggerating the tropes of their satirized subjects to such a degree that they become a sort of comical reflection of them. The humor depends on the audience recognizing what’s being sent up, so of course spoofs cast their goofy spotlights on the most familiar of elements.

It’s a damning testament to the laughable conventionality of The Catcher Was A Spy that everyone involved easily could’ve turned it into a deadpan spoof if they dialed up the absurdity of their work by a factor of one, lovably ridiculing its generic pervasiveness instead of conforming to it.

In other words, it had the potential to be to spy thrillers what Paul Rudd’s infinitely-superior They Came Forward is to romantic comedies (Paul Rudd’s starred in three movies released over the same number of weeks, and he’s played a gay guy in two of them: this and Ideal Home; of course, the third, the second Ant-Man, is the most high-profile, and thus would’ve been the most meaningful if it had followed suit — despite Marvel inundating theaters with their products in recent years, has there been a single gay superhero yet?). Rudd leads a criminally-hamstrung all-star ensemble, all of whom could’ve pulled off a subtle shift to the comedic in their sleep, instead of wasting their talents on such drecky material.

I’m not asking for a farce-level glow-up here; my preferred spoofs are usually subtler, more restrained, less in your face, those that could be mistaken for the real thing because of how closely they resemble their satirized genres. Everything from the title to the premise — the army sends a random baseball player (you may have guessed from the title: he’s a catcher!) undercover to become a spy, infiltrating Germany in World War Two to assassinate the lead scientist of the country’s nuclear program — would fit right at home in a comic tonal register. The dialogue is so on-the-nose that the powers-that-be probably wouldn’t need to change a word. They also wouldn’t need to touch the score, the costumes, the wigs, the accents, the…need I go on? You get the picture.

Doing the heavy-lifting for most of these requested alterations would be the actors and director. The former would just heighten their performances by a few notches, and some directorial flair would’ve been nice…you know, unlike the complete lack of it in the version that actually exists, with no visual panache that transcends traditionally-stuffy period aesthetics, yet another component contributing to its eye-rollingly-derivative artifice.

But since the The Catcher Was A Spy that you can actually see in theaters — not just this outlined-incarnation in my mind — clearly misses the mark of its intentions by such a ludicrous margin, I feel safe declaring it the worst movie of 2018.

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