|Grade: B+ | Genre: Romantic Comedy
Summary: Fever Pitch is a sharp romantic comedy that fits just about anyone’s palate. The women will love to watch Ben and Lindsey fall in love, set to a crafty batch of relationship trials and tribulations. The men will love getting enraptured in what it means to be a dedicated sports fan.
Starring: Drew Barrymore & Jimmy Fallon
Director: Bobby Farrelly & Peter Farrelly
So it’s date night, and you are combing the movie listings for something to satisfy her tastes and yours. Hers tend to run sweet love story, woman triumphing over insurmountable odds or Disney. Yours tend to look for somebody kicking someone’s ass, a hot female in as little clothing as possible or juvenile humor. Inevitably, compromise strikes, and one suffers this time so that the other can enjoy themselves, only to return the favor next time. It’s been a while, but I’ve been there and I know its no fun when you’re the one being drug into Ever After. Ladies, why do you do this to us? I’ve got the ultimate comprise movie that both halves of the couple will love. Fever Pitch, on the surface, looks like a cute romantic comedy complete with girl-next-door Drew Barrymore and goof ball Jimmy Fallon. If you peer closer, you will see that this is really a cleverly disguised baseball movie. If you’ve ever painted your face team colors or just yelled at the TV in the heat of a game winning shot, this is your film.
Ben (Fallon) is one of the most pitiful fans in the existence of sports — a Red Sox fan. This man is diehard. His room looks like the gift shop at Fenway. He even wipes his ass with Yankees toilet paper for goodness sake. For 23 years, he has had the Red Sox pumping through his veins, and every year they get so painfully close without bringing home the trophy. Ben meets Lindsey (Barrymore), a tenacious businesswoman having bad luck with men, when he brings his students on a field trip where she works. Once Lindsey clears the initial mental roadblock that he’s just a teacher (it’s a economic, success thing for her), she falls for Ben hard. His goofy charm is completely irresistible, as she begins to think that this guy could just be “the one”.
One of her girlfriends cautions her to dig deep in his closets for those inevitable lurking skeletons. Anyone that hasn’t been taken off the market by 30, not only has some serious issues, but by now his issues have developed issues. Lindsey knows Ben is a Red Sox fan, but she doesn’t quite realize the extent to his dedication. It becomes increasingly clear, as the calendar rolls into summer, that the Ben she has fallen in love with, has become possessed by the fan. Everything revolves around the Red Sox game schedule. “They need me” is the response he gives when a scheduling conflict pops up, as if he was the team’s personal lucky rabbit’s foot. Lindsey hesitantly goes along with his obsession, thinking how bad can it actually be. The constant games, the inability to compromise and the love that never seems to rub off onto her; all become too much for Lindsey to handle, and she calls it quits. You know what happens from here so I won’t discount your intelligence.
This is standard romantic comedy fare — girl meets boy, girl falls for boy, girl splits up with boy because he’s a blockhead, girl takes boy back. The story’s originality isn’t why you are here. Even though the foundation is formulaic Hollywood, the details are amazingly fresh. This was adapted from an autobiographical novel by Nick Hornby (About a Boy, High Fidelity) of the same name. It captures what it is like to be a sports fan with impressive detail. Also, they show what it is like to be the other woman in the life of a fan, continually enduring the obsession. This universal tension that plagues so many relationships was captured incredibly well.
The Farrelly brothers are solidly back on track after the Stuck on You gaffe. They set Fallon loose and his special brand of clever humor really keeps this film moving. The directors also give us their patented Farrelly touches with people getting smacked in the head with balls, balls getting washed and everything you’d expect from the Something About Mary brain trust. There is one scene that is especially priceless. After Lindsey dumps him, Ben shuts himself into his apartment watching the Buckner debacle of the 1986 World Series over and over again, like an addict relapsing. His friends burst into the room to save him screaming, “how did he get this tape?” as if it were a snuff film or something. The humor is delivered dead center and really frames Fallon’s talent.
After the Sox did the unthinkable by winning the World Series last October, the directors actually had to reshoot the ending. Also, it is no coincidence that this film opened on the same weekend as the Red Sox started their season. The game footage at Fenway goes a long way towards instilling the rush of adrenalin and the incredible spectacle that come into play when cheering for your favorite team, perched behind the dugout. They even got Yankee killer, Johnny Damon, and a handful of other Red Sox to join into the fun.
Fever Pitch is a sharp romantic comedy that fits just about anyone’s palate. The women will love to watch Ben and Lindsey fall in love, set to a crafty batch of relationship trials and tribulations. The men will love getting enraptured in what it means to be a dedicated sports fan.
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