Fever Pitch Review

by [email protected] (dnb AT dca DOT net)
July 14th, 2005

A film review by David N. Butterworth
Copyright 2005 David N. Butterworth

*** (out of ****)

There was no good reason on God's green earth (or His orange dirt, depending on your ballgame bent) why I should have even tolerated--let alone enjoyed--the romantic comedy "Fever Pitch" but I did. Quite a bit.

For this amiable and shockingly good-natured film starring Drew Barrymore and "Saturday Night Live"'s Jimmy Fallon could also be referred to as "The Americanization of Nick," since it's a Boston-baked take on the Nick Hornby novel of the same name. (Hornby also penned "About a Boy" and "High Fidelity," both of which were adapted into excellent, excellent movies.)

The "Pitch" in Hornby's original book referred to the often cut up and muddied green playing surface known as the football (i.e., soccer) field yet in this 2005 version the title lends itself equally well to the fast, spit, or curve of a baseball trajectory, with the object of the main character's affections/obsessions supplanted from the Gunner's of London's Arsenal football club to the history-making Boston Red Sox.
"Fever Pitch" (the book) also made for a surprisingly good 1997 made- for-British-television movie starring Colin Firth ("Bridget Jones's Diary" I & II) so remaking/updating/Yankee-fying it just seemed like a bad idea, period. That, and the folks responsible for this go-round are none other than the Farrelly Brothers, those proponents of class ("Me, Myself & Irene"), those advocates of good taste ("Stuck on You").
But "Fever Pitch" is good. *Really* good.

It's good, in part, because it's not really a film about baseball. It's a film about women's unbridled tolerance for the immaturity of men and how, no matter how ill-advised they recognize the unfulfilled urge to be, they still hope to change them, mold them, better them. The filmmakers recognize this and shape their film accordingly, with subtlety and sensitivity and genuine laughs along the way. That's right. I used the words "subtlety" and "sensitivity" in a review of a Farrelly Bros. movie.

Needless to say no extraneous body parts--and/or chickens--are used/abused in this delightful motion picture.

Barrymore is a workaholic executive who's asked out on a date by Fallon's character, Ben Wrightman, after he visits her office with his 9th Grade math class (he's a teacher). Lindsey Meeks (Barrymore) is reluctant at first--the guy's a teacher after all; her gym friends dismissively refer to him as such--but he's also sweet and funny and downright thoughtful, getting down on his hands and knees and scrubbing her toilet bowl when she gets a funny tummy. Lindsey, therefore, can't quite figure out why Ben's still single... until he heads down to Florida with his matching 'Sox buddies for Spring Training and she witnesses a particularly embarrassing episode captured by the Clearwater TV cameras.
>From that point on it becomes clear that Ben doesn't just love the Red Sox, he's *in* love with them. Can Lindsey cure him, break him, moreover continue to date him?

"Fever Pitch" plays like a latter day extension of "The Wedding Singer," another winning Drew Barrymore romance that evoked warm, fuzzy feelings through the surprising camaraderie between her character and his, a potentially abrasive beau (Adam Sandler therein).

It'd be trite and rather obvious to say the Farrellys hit this paean to the joy of 'Sox out of the ballpark but I'll say it anyway. "This one is outta there!"

David N. Butterworth
[email protected]

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