Fever Pitch (2005)

fever_pitch IMDb

So I own a lot of movies that revolve around baseball. It is my favourite sport, by some margin. This was one of the few I did not own, it was a recent addition from Sally’s collection. My favourite part about this movie is that they changed the ending after the Red Sox won the world series in 2004. Ever since Babe Ruth was traded from Boston to the New York Yankees in 1919, the Red Sox franchise had been one of the unluckiest sporting teams of all time, always finding ways to lose the un-losable game. It didn’t take long for the Babe Ruth curse to get thrown around Red Sox circles. This movie about a devoted Red Sox fan and how the team impacts his budding relationship was meant to have a bittersweet ending. He gets the girl, but his team still lost, but when the Sox won it all, the ending was changed and he got the best of both worlds.

Jimmy Fallon plays Ben, the previously mentioned Red Sox fan. He lives for baseball and has had season tickets since he was a kid. A spanner is thrown into the works when he meets the cute Lindsay (Drew Barrymore). They begin dating during the baseball offseason so she doesn’t get a taste of how nutty he is until Spring Training starts. Lindsay quickly learns that Ben is crazy about the Red Sox, they will always be his first love and she will likely have to take a back seat for six months of the year during baseball season. She thinks she is able to accept this, but that doesn’t mean she won’t try to change him first. The film follows the 2004 Red Sox season and shows how Ben and Lindsay’s relationship goes up and down depending on how the Sox are going in the standings.

One of the things you learn very quickly about this film is that Jimmy Fallon is not a movie star. He is great on SNL and as host of the Tonight Show, but he is just missing the charisma you need to be a leading man. I enjoyed this film, but I wonder how much more I would have liked it if they had cast a more seasoned movie actor. Someone like Ben Affleck or Matt Damon would have been fun as they have made no secret of their love for the Red Sox franchise and their Boston roots.

Drew Barrymore is ok, I don’t really like her that much, but she is cute enough as the girlfriend constantly looked over for Red Sox baseball.

Fever Pitch is a fun time, and as a baseball fan, I really enjoyed the references to the game. You can tell this film was written by Red Sox fans as the characters complain about things that real Red Sox fans complain about. It is a nice touch.

Rating: B-

I don’t really know why I own Fever Pitch. I don’t like baseball, I especially dislike the Red Sox, and Jimmy Fallon has only recently started to grow on me. On paper, I should hate this movie. But in reality I think it’s pretty cute. I didn’t think my love of Drew Barrymore was that strong, but maybe it is. Her presence is the only thing that makes sense as to why I would buy this.

Fever Pitch is apparently a remake of a British film about a man and his love for his soccer team, which gets in the way of the relationship with his new girlfriend. I don’t know anything about that movie, but this one has the same premise. Substitute America’s favorite past time for English football, and voila!– a sports rom-com for US audiences. One thing that sets this movie apart from the original is that this version needed to rewrite its ending, because much to everyone’s surprise the Boston Red Sox actually won the 2004 World Series for the first time in, like, 132 years, or something. My dad’s family are die hard Sox fans, so I should probably know the specifics. However, Red Sox fans/Bostonians can be super obnoxious (sorry family!), so I tend to tune them out. Anyway, it’s kind of cool that the movie focused on the most current season rather than delving into the team’s past. The story was fresh when the film was released, and the filmmakers lucked out getting to document an historic sports moment.

At the time I bought this (circa 2006?) I absolutely hated Jimmy Fallon. I’ve watched Saturday Night Live regularly since the mid-90s, and remember Fallon’s debut. He was OK, but to me felt like a lackluster replacement for Adam Sandler (Fallon actually did impressions of Sandler in a couple episodes). Then he got a reputation for breaking in the middle of sketches, which is funny on occasion. Fallon seemed to do it all the freaking time, though, and I quickly lost interest in any sketch where he was heavily featured. I have softened to the comedian over time. He had some funny bits on The Late Show, and is actually very good in the talk show format. Fallon is good in Fever Pitch, but his performance does explain why his film career never took off. He’s convincing as a nutty sports fan, but never quite hits the right emotional notes during the more dramatic scenes. Maybe if Fallon had cut his teeth in a sitcom or as a supporting character in more films he might have had more success as a leading man. Who knows. I think things have worked out pretty well for him.

The movie itself is good. Not great, but then I’ve never understood the devotion some people have towards sports teams. Fallon’s character’s life literally revolves around baseball season, to the point where it interferes with his relationships. For some reason Drew Barrymore goes along with for way longer than most people would, and in the end even joins Fallon in his obsession. I sincerely hope he returns the favor by taking an interest in her hobbies or learning that missing a game here or there is not the end of the world. Unfortunately the movie doesn’t address this, but then I’ve always felt this is a rom-com for men rather than one for women.

Rating: C+

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