Fever Pitch Reviewby Johnny Betts (johnny_betts AT hotmail DOT com)
April 25th, 2005
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Ben Rightman (Fallon) and Lindsey Meeks (Barrymore) meet when he takes some of his 9th grade Geometry students on a field trip to watch how math can be used practically in the business world. Ben immediately falls for Lindsey and her mathematical knowledge, so he summons the courage to ask her out. They start dating, and her friends think Ben's great. However, Robin (KaDee Strickland) speculates there has to be *something* wrong with Ben. After all, he's 30 and still single. Why don't he be havin' a gal???
Lindsey soon realizes that there is indeed something strange about Ben - he's somewhat obsessed with the Boston Red Sox. We're talking Red Sox bed sheets, pillow cases, posters, pictures, Yankees toilet paper - the works. Meanwhile, Lindsey has a passion of her own - her work and the promotion she is desperately trying to get. Will the two learn to balance their passions and direct their devotions towards each other? If you don't know that answer, then you haven't seen many romantic comedies. An entertaining look at how to live with a man who is an absolute sports freak ensues.
I have to admit that I went into Fever Pitch with low expectations. It's no huge revelation for me to say that Jimmy Fallon's last movie (Taxi) was Catwomanly bad, and the trailers for Fever Pitch were all right but didn't mesmerize me. I was already preparing some cheesy baseball puns for my review...
"I like Jimmy Fallon, but Taxi was strike one in his movie career. Well, now we've got steeeeee-riiiiiike twoooooooo! One more strike, and it's back to SNL!"
"Buy yourself some peanuts and cracker jacks, but don't buy tickets to Fever Pitch. You'll walk out of the theater and never go back!"
Then the movie had to go and be way more entertaining than I was expecting. But hey, I couldn't let my puns go to waste, right?
Another reason I thought I wouldn't care for the movie is that I hate the Boston Red Sox. My whole family hates 'em. The mere mention of Pedro Martinez' name sends me running to the bathroom. Oh man, hold on...
..All right, I'm back. Anyway, my mom, who is a St. Louis Cardinals fan, still believes the World Series was rigged last year. She refuses to believe the Sox won it legitimately. But I'm man enough to admit that Fever Pitch caused me to sympathize, albeit only slightly, with the plight of Red Sox fans.
Anybody who has a passion for sports will be able to relate to this movie on some level. Unless you have a favorite sports team you can't fully understand the extreme highs and lows that a fan such as Fallon's Ben can go through. There's nothing quite so fresh as the smell of a new season and nothing quite so smooth as a clean slate. Well, figuratively speaking. It's the joy of being a sports fan. "Wait 'til next year," becomes your mantra, your motto, your prayer - and Fever Pitch effectively captures that essence.
I love the fact that the movie takes a fictional story and throws it against the real-life backdrop of the Red Sox' improbable World Series run last year. I don't love it so much that I want to marry it, but you know what I mean. I expected this to be handled in a fairly cheesy manner, and while some of the humor is a little silly, it's actually pretty realistic.
You see, Ben's uncle took him to his first Red Sox game when he was 7 years old, and when he died he left Ben his two season tickets. Ben hasn't missed a game in 23 years. At the beginning of each season he has a draft day where he and his friends get together to figure out who gets to go to which games with him. He makes everybody dance for the Yankees games and whenever somebody complains he threatens them with tickets for the games with the Royals (sorry Mr. Shade) and the Devil Rays. It's a very good scene, and it works so well because I actually know of people who do the "ticket draft day."
I also must admit that I can relate to when Ben goes to dinner with Lindsey and her parents. The Red Sox are playing a road game, but instead of watching it live on TV Ben decides to tape it. One of the most dangerous things in life is taping a game and then being in public and trying to avoid hearing the result. Been there. It's a very tense and scary situation. Weeeeeell, Ben enters the danger zone when a guy shows up at the restaurant and mentions watching the game. Ben immediately covers his ears and starts shrieking like a banshee so as not to hear the outcome. Lindsey is embarrassed, and her parents don't know what to think. Yeah, sports fans can be weird, I don't deny it. But it's real.
Now if you're expecting the crude, edgy stuff that the Farrelly brothers are known for then you could be disappointed. They do have their moments though, like when Ben says he likes how Lindsey sometimes talks out of the side of her mouth "like an adorable stroke victim," but overall this is definitely a softer, more romantic side that the bros are putting on display.
That's not to say that the movie ever gets way too sappy. Thankfully, when the sap starts to ooze a bit, the Farrellys know when to pull away. A romantic moment with Lindsey jumping on the field and running over to Ben to declare her undying love for him turns into Ben sincerely replying, "You've gotta tell me about the outfield. Is it spongy?"
Jimmy Fallon proves that with the right material he can handle himself well on the big screen, and Drew Barrymore remains a constant source of romantic comedy charm. Fever Pitch is just good, solid entertainment that takes a somewhat fresh look at the romantic comedy genre. It's a movie that guys and gals can both relate to. Particularly the guys who practice sports fanaticism at some point during the year and the ladies who must deal with 'em.
Now if the Red Sox fans could please shut up about the "Curse of the Bambino" I would appreciate it. My Memphis Tigers have NEVER won the NCAA basketball championship, so I officially declare my plight greater than yours.
Fans of Jimmy Fallon, Drew Barrymore, romantic comedy, the Red Sox, baseball, or sports fanaticism in general should consider giving Fever Pitch a look. I wouldn't go out of my way to rush and see it at the first available time, but it'll make a great matinee.
Rating: 3.25 (out of 5)
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