“Fever Pitch”, directed by the Farrelly Brothers (“There’s Something About Mary”, “Me, Myself and Irene”) and based on a book by Nick Hornby, is a very good romantic comedy. Filmed previously in Britain, the location and obsession of the original book have been changed, creating a backdrop for the relationship portrayed by Drew Barrymore and Jimmy Fallon.
The Farrelly Brothers are famous for films that take ‘gross-out’ to a whole new level. In “Fever Pitch”, they rein themselves in; the film is a genuine romantic comedy, with none of the gross-out humor so prevalent in their previous films. They seem genuinely interested in exploring and finding the natural laughs in the relationship between Ben and Lindsey. It helps that they have source material from a great writer. All of the films based on Hornby’s books have been great; “About A Boy”, “High Fidelity” and now “Fever Pitch”. Each puts real people in stories that are believable and funny.
Barrymore, who produces a lot of the projects in which she appears, seems to have a real eye for good material. “Fever Pitch” provides a great vehicle for her and Fallon. They are adorable together. Fallon is funny and doting, Barrymore is charming and beautiful. Each character is different, but they learn to work with those differences.
The film begins in winter. After their disastrous, funny, first date, Ben takes Lindsey to the park for a barbecue, both of them bundled up in coats, because it is freezing outside. This is the type of date that they would go on. Funny, different and completely within character, it works. As the summer approaches, and Lindsey begins to realize the extent of Ben’s obsession with the Red Sox, the relationship goes well, at first. Lindsey tries to work with it. The looming promotion at her job is also taking a lot of her time, and she is stretched a bit thin. Things become a little rocky as they try to work things out.
At one point, Lindsey makes a comment about Winter Ben and Summer Ben. Fallon successfully portrays Ben’s manic obsession with the team. While on “Saturday Night Live”, one of Fallon’s recurring characters was a guy who was really obsessed with the Boston Red Sox. He and his girlfriend would go to every game and try to get videotaped doing stupid things, with the players, etc. In that regard, the role of Ben isn’t such a huge stretch for Fallon, but he makes the character believable in other ways. Ben is the type of teacher we all wish we had in school. The few scenes of Ben interacting with his students make me wish I were back in Junior High. He is a fun and energetic teacher. Yes, he might be a little young, but he is teaching Junior High kids. It works. He is also very funny and charming during his dates with Lindsey. We believe that they love each other. As their relationship experiences some bumps, the outcome is more pressing and urgent for us because we care about them.
Each character has a support group of colorful friends. Lindsey’s group of three girlfriends is given more screen time; they hang out at the gym, go to parties together, gossip. They are thrilled that Lindsey has met a guy and act as a sort of Greek chorus for her, voicing her inner thoughts throughout.
There has been a lot of press about the new ending the filmmakers rushed to make, when the Red Sox won the World Series last year. Watching the film, it seems tacked on. A couple of shots from Fox Sports clue us in to the developments. These shots are endless as they go on and on and on. Because Ben and Lindsey are not in these scenes, they have little relevance, except to bring us up to speed on events that have taken place outside of the story, pulling us out of the universe everyone involved in the film has worked so hard to create.
“Fever Pitch” is an enjoyable romantic comedy.