Fever Pitch Movie Review
Good old Jimmy Fallon. He was mildly funny on "Saturday Night Live," at least in his Weekly News segment. He was mightily unfunny in last year's disaster "Taxi." This time around, he isn't great, but matched against romantic comedy powerhouse Drew Barrymore he holds his own.
"Fever Pitch" is the latest movie from the Farrelly brothers, but if you're hoping for a repeat of "There's Something About Mary" or even "Shallow Hal," you'll have to go the video store. "Fever Pitch" is hardly a PG-13 movie and is easily their most lighthearted movie to date - and it shows. The movie can best be described as cute - nothing more, nothing less. It's mildly funny from beginning to end, drawing a few chuckles here and there but never blowing the audience away. Ultimately, it will be quickly forgotten even if it does pay homage to the mighty 2004 Boston Red Sox, who battled back from a 3-0 deficit in the American League Championship Series to defeat the Yankees and go on to sweep the Cardinals 4-0 in the World Series. The movie works as far as romantic comedies go, but lacking great jokes and enough baseball it only deserves a ground rule double, not the home run the Farrelly's were obviously hoping for.
Fallon stars as a goofy and overly likable math teacher who falls in love with a successful and highly-competitive executive, played by Barrymore. They hit it off immediately and everything is going great, until spring comes around and his absolute obsession for the Red Sox rears its ugly head. With her boyfriend devoted to the team more than anything else, Barrymore finds herself vying for attention, and as you may guess it'll come down to a romantic showdown in Fenway Park.
The plot is about as stereotypical as they come, with the instant attraction stage, the unnecessary breakup stage and ultimately the cliché get-back-together stage. The allusions to Red Sox lore make it something a bit more, but the screenplay just isn't as tight and clever as it could and should have been. Adapted from a story about author Nick Hornby's obsession with soccer, "Fever Pitch" easily could have been a sports story for the ages, but instead it decided to focus very little on what makes it unique - the baseball.
If anyone was as annoyed as I was (and I know there were others) that we had to see product placement for "Fever Pitch" in the form of Fallon and Barrymore in last year's playoff race, it's because they actually filmed some of their scenes during the historic 2004 postseason. Most of the baseball footage in the movie is the real deal, some taken from the sports broadcast, other parts from extra cameras. It's cool to see the actual players, but so little time is devoted to the game I was very disappointed. The last eight games of the 2004 season (a.k.a. the eight games that Boston won to take the ALCS and World Series) are given about two minutes of screen time, even though the big romantic scene takes place during the fourth game of the ALCS. I would have liked to see the Farrelly brothers tie in the excitement of the game to the excitement of the relationship, rather than just use it as a backdrop for yet another standard romantic comedy.
The movie basically finishes with the narrator saying, "And you know the rest," but isn't a movie supposed to stand the test of time? "Fever Pitch" should be a tribute to one of the most historic comebacks in sports history, yet it is clear the Farrelly brothers never intended anyone to be interested in this movie in ten years. "The Natural" still kicks butt and "Field of Dreams" is still a classic, but why should we bother watching "Fever Pitch" in ten years? What about the little kids who don't know about 2004?
Ultimately, "Fever Pitch" is a fun little movie with some cute moments. The Farrelly brothers clearly misunderstood their audience, however: the two prime audiences are baseball fans and Drew Barrymore fans, neither of which includes a large segment of women looking for a cute romantic comedy with soon-to-be-unemployed Jimmy Fallon. For those who like Barrymore or loved watching the Yankees lose their step last year, "Fever Pitch" is recommended, but it definitely won't end up on my personal DVD shelf come next fall.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.