The Perfect Catch
Obsessive sport fanatics everywhere will surely recognize parts of themselves in Fever Pitch. This is a surprisingly uncluttered romantic comedy about a successful woman who falls in love with the perfect guy, but ends up having to compete with his first love: the Boston Red Sox.
Based on an autobiographical novel by British author Nick Hornby about his obsession with football (soccer, to us American folk), Fever Pitch gets a stateside makeover. Of course, the term ''sports fanatic'' takes on a whole new meaning when you're talking about an avid Red Sox follower. I mean, it takes a special kind of person to unconditionally love a baseball team that, until last year, was considered cursed because it hadn't won a World Series since 1918. This is what business consultant Lindsay Meeks (Drew Barrymore) learns when she meets and falls for Ben Wrightman (Jimmy Fallon), a charming, happy-go-lucky high school math teacher who also happens to be a Red Sox nut. Since they fall in love during the winter, Lindsay is already hooked once summertime rolls around and she witnesses how truly deep Ben's obsession goes. That's OK, she can handle it. She's an ambitious workaholic, bucking for a promotion, and can relate. But really, she can't. Ben's level of commitment to the team goes way beyond what she expected, and Lindsay realizes she needs more from him than he seems willing to give. Can Ben give up his beloved Bosox--even as they enter into one of the most incredible seasons in baseball history--just so he can be with his beloved? Ah, the course of true love never runs smooth.
It took her awhile to find her true calling, but Drew Barrymore has finally cornered the market on sweet and appealing romantic comedies. The Wedding Singer, Never Been Kissed, 50 First Dates all hit home runs. It's because Barrymore plays it smart and finds the right leading guys to connect with, and she's got her own obsession with Saturday Night Live alums. First Adam Sandler, and now Fallon. For all his juvenile behavior on SNL, Fallon actually pulls off Pitch's very adult romantic duties with aplomb, even if he still maintains his ever-present boyish quality. The best thing about these two is that they make Lindsay and Ben's love affair, and its progression, genuine. From the first date, during which Lindsay comes down with the stomach flu and Ben gently takes care of her, to their bittersweet split after he blames her for missing the best game the Red Sox ever played against rivals the New York Yankees, their relationship never rings untrue. It'd be nice to see them paired up again. Maybe they could have a love triangle with Sandler. Yeah, that's the ticket!
They can do it. Peter and Bobby Farrelly can actually make a movie that doesn't include one fart joke. Wow. So what do you think it is about Fever Pitch, a cute love story that curves dangerously away from their usual broad and outlandish efforts, that appeals to the brothers Farrelly? Could it be that they are enormous Red Sox fans? Aha! Apparently, the guys had to chase this one pretty hard before the powers that be decided to let these two pranksters handle the job. But they had help. Scripted by another well-known comedy duo, City Slickers' Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel, Fever Pitch starts off slow but builds momentum. It keeps to the classic boy-meets-girl, boy-loses-girl, and boy-gets-girl-back scenario, but adds in the whole baseball extremist element. To be honest, it's pretty darn fascinating to learn about the Red Sox's romantic, heart-wrenching, superstitious history. But the most amazing thing about the making of Fever Pitch is that it actually had to be done on the fly--well, at least the ending. As it turns out, during the filming, the Boston Red Sox actually went on to win that elusive World Series championship. No one thought it was going to happen. No one planned for it. But it sure makes for a fairy-tale ending, doesn't it?
The Farrellys' endearing Fever Pitch might not hit it completely out of Fenway Park. But with the entirely likable and believable performances from its lead players, along with a real-life underdog baseball team that made history, it scores a triple.