Fever Pitch

© 2005 Ray Wong

Stars: Drew Barrymore, Jimmy Fallon, Jack Kehler, Ione Skye, KaDee Strickland, JoBeth Williams
Directors: Bobby and Peter Farrelly
Writers: Lowell Ganz, Babaloo Mandel (based on novel by Nick Hornby)
Distributor: Fox
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for crude and sexual humor
Running time: 98 minutes

Script – 6
Performance – 6
Direction – 5
Cinematography – 6
Music/Sound– 6
Editing – 5
Production – 7

Total Score – 5.8 out of 10

Didn’t Drew Barrymore co-star in a romantic comedy with a SNL alumnus around this time last year? And didn’t she play a cherubic, cute single woman looking for love in the wrong places? Is Drew being typecast as the next Meg Ryan? (Answer: maybe. She starred in 50 FIRST DATES with Adam Sandler.)

Ben (Fallon) is a funny, smart, and kind grade school math teacher. When he takes his students to interview professionals who use math directly in their lines of work, he meets Lindsey (Barrymore), a corporate executive with a bright mind and a chip on her shoulder. At first, Lucy resists the idea of dating a school teacher because she fears her more successful career would be the death of any relationship. But soon Ben’s charm and kindness simply win her over. Everything seems so perfect, until Lindsey knows of Ben’s problem…

Ben has been an obsessive Red Sox fan since he was seven. At first Lindsey thinks she can handle a little sports fanaticism. As summer rolls along, though, their relationship begins to waffle when Lindsey finds that she can’t compete with Ben’s love for the Red Sox. She’s also becoming someone she doesn’t like – someone who loses herself by trying to please her beau. Can true love conquer baseball?

Barrymore (50 FIRST DATES) pretty much plays herself again: a nice “20-10” career woman addicted to love. It’s not to say she is bad. We love her for playing these roles so well, but I think she can branch out a bit (I loved her in DONNIE DARKO). Fallon (TAXI) plays an extension of his SNL persona here: a funny, cute, neurotic snuggle bunny. Both of them are perfectly cast and they do look sweet together.

The supporting cast is adequate but they really don’t have much to do. Despite a large cast, this is essentially a two-person movie (plus the Red Sox, of course). There are almost no subplots involving the minor characters – their jobs are simply to get Drew and Jimmy places and make them talk.

Based on Nick Hornby’s autobiographical novel about obsession with soccer, the script moves the story to Boston and the obsession is now baseball, or, more specifically, the Red Sox. One wonders if it was a stroke of luck or they planned it all along that the Red Sox won the World Series that year (2004). It doesn’t matter; the story captures that fanaticism very well, with or without the fairytale ending. Not to mention the underlying battle of the sexes. In a way, it’s interesting to see a career woman battling a male school teacher over a game. However, after we strip away all the sports and serendipities and cute dialogue, the plot is rather thin. And for a comedy, I’d say the laughs are far and between.

Given that it’s a Farrelly brothers’ film – the guys who gave us THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY and DUMB & DUMBER – this film is actually quite a letdown. Have the Farrelly brothers finally gotten tired of gross-out humor and gone mainstream? The result is kind of lukewarm. As a romantic comedy, it is rather one-joke, and not that funny a joke either. Granted, the leads are adorable and they’re great together, and the ending is very feel-good. But we’ve come to expect certain things from the Farrelly brothers, and I think they’ve pitched a wrong game this time.

No comments: