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Fever Pitch (Widescreen Edition) (2005)

Comedy movie directed by Bobby Farrelly and Peter Farrelly

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Feels Like a Fever

  • Dec 3, 2011
  • by
Rating:
-1
The only material the Farrelly brothers culled from Nick Hornby's classic book was the title. I suspect the inspiration process didn't go anywhere beyond reading the title of the book. Even the plot summary contains the words "soccer" and "Arsenal FC." The Farrellys definitely missed that. Okay, maybe that's a little bit too harsh: The main character, Ben, finds solace in the Boston Red Sox upon his parents' divorce, and there is a scene in which Ben gets disappointed when his girlfriend, Lindsay, tries to take him to Paris for a weekend because it would make him miss an important game. In both, the main character is a teacher. Both of them are about top-notch teams in their sports which purport to be underdogs but who have payrolls which make the case that they're slacking by doing just enough to tease their fans and lose.

I really don't see what the adaptors see in the Nick Hornby book that they just have to keep trying to turn it into a love story. There is a love story in the book, but that love is between poor Hornby and his beloved Premier League team, Arsenal Football Club. The first movie based on Fever Pitch got the soccer part right, but a good chunk of it revolves around a love story. Too bad I can't review it. The Farrelly brothers take Fever Pitch and make a story between boy and girl the very centerpiece, and the one question readers can think to themselves is, what the hell? There was very little of a boy/girl love story in the book, but there was a wealth of other material which could easily have had a movie created around it. Why try to turn it into a romantic comedy in which the girl basically gets in the way?

Well, okay. Again. That comment IS harsh. Lindsay is a pretty well-developed character, especially for a movie like this. She is a high-powered businesswoman with real concerns about how her boyfriend's obsession with the Boston Red Sox is going to get in the way of their relationship, and how her relationship overall might affect her career, and even a concern about how the difference in their income brackets could get in the way. Ben is supposed to be the main character - it's him the narration centers around, him who has the season tickets and overall obsession - but all we see him do through most of the movie is go nuts over the team. Even by the standards of the completely sold out fanatic, Ben is way over the top. Some of his scenes - his "Yankee dance" scene being one and his appearance on ESPN being another - are genuinely funny. But others, like the one where he argues with Lindsay about missing a great comeback game in lieu of going to a party with Lindsay, are just ridiculous. You can tell in some scenes that the Farrellys simply gave up trying to explain him.

The story is simple: Boy, a teacher, takes some of his best students to an office where he meets girl. Boy and girl get together and begin relationship. Summer begins and boy, with a ton of free time on his hands, spends it at Fenway Park watching the Boston Red Sox, who got him through a difficult period in his life. Girl questions relationship amidst his insanity. Boy is forced to choose between girl and team. This being a romantic comedy, I don't think I'm spoiling anything by saying boy gets to keep both girl and team. Red Sox win World Series, since this movie was released in 2005, after they really had won the World Series.

In the middle of the eventful 2004 Red Sox season are Ben and Lindsay. And, well,... That's pretty much it. It isn't like they have an important role in regards to the team's fate that season. The team, on the other hand, definitely plays a role in theirs. Ben is a huge Red Sox fan, but even though his house is covered in Red Sox memorabilia, he's able to keep himself in check through the winter. But during the summer, he's a lean, mean, baseball-lovin' machine who has gone his whole life since the age of five without ever missing a game.

Lindsay meets Ben during the winter, so except for the memorabilia, she suspects nothing except that Ben is merely an extra-passionate fan. Once the income issue is behind her (read: brushed off to the side like she never had a problem with it), she accepts that she's found probably the greatest guy on Earth. But her friends think the same, and having had similar experiences in the past, they bring up the idea that Ben has some kind of weird problem. Why is he not off the market yet? Lindsay even lampshades the idea when he tries to go into exacting detail, months into their relationship, about how much he loves the Sox. Ben starts taking her to games, and she eventually decides to stop going to so many games so she can concentrate on earning a promotion.

If Fever Pitch played a romantic comedy from the strict angle of how close can a guy get to his team before it gets in the way, it could have worked. But it also relies on a lot of trite cliches, and it tries to wedge the common plot thread about the woman performing double duty between the man and her dream job, which - since Lindsay is a lot more developed than Ben - tends to make Fever Pitch come off like a romantic comedy about the woman torn between man and work with the baseball team just providing an extra wedge. Fever Pitch would have been a lot more tolerable - despite the cliched, overwrought, and downright silly ending - if it had just taken the baseball route.

The Red Sox only take a central plot role close to the end, when Ben throws a hissy about missing a big game against the Yankees which the Red Sox won with a spectacular ninth-inning comeback. Ben's explanation for his anger at missing the game is too nonsensical to come off as anything other than an obsessed, angry rant. Then the finale involves Lindsay running across the field at Fenway during a playoff game.

To the movie's credit, Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore are both lovable as their characters, but they lack chemistry and don't have the script material to work with. The Farrellys appear to have just wanted to force the story out, something which becomes flat obvious in the final act, when Ben misses the game against the Yankees.

Fever Pitch the book could inspire a mine of decent sports movies, so why people keep getting romantic comedies out of it is beyond me. The American version of Fever Pitch is just bad. The British version at least has a grounding in the original material and is more developed and centered around the main character. If you're a Red Sox fan, you might be able to find a little bit of redemption in this version of Fever Pitch; for everything wrong about it, you can tell the Farrellys - New England natives themselves - really did try to create a love letter, and their love for their favorite baseball team is genuinely heartfelt. But following your heart's desire is sometimes a risky proposition which leads to doing some insanely dumb things.

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December 04, 2011
I haven't seen this one in a while, but I remember finding it entertaining in some ways. I guess I am just not a huge fan of rom-coms. Good comments on the cliches, I don't mind cliches as long as the movie's characters have charisma and personality. Enjoyed reading your review.
 
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More Fever Pitch (2005) reviews
review by . November 14, 2005
posted in Movie Hype
I've seen almost all of the Farrelly brothers' films and I have to say that "Fever Pitch" falls shorter than all of them. But don't get me wrong, "Fever Pitch" is sufficient as a feel good, silly romance/comedy. It drew quite a few laughs from me while I was watching it. I watched it alone because my wife thought it would be "just another baseball movie." It isn't just another baseball movie, however, it leans more toward the romantic side of comedy.    The story revolves around …
review by . April 08, 2005
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: Good Premise and some good jokes.     Cons: Plot may be to thin for some.     The Bottom Line: A fun and charming romantic comedy.     Spring is the time of year when past failures of the fall are forgotten by most baseball fans. While hope springs eternal every spring for most fans, Boston Red Sox fans have long had a love/hate relationship with their team. This is large part to the Red Sox ongoing and often bizarre ability to snatch …
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Nicholas Croston ()
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Hi! I'm here in part to plug my writing and let everyone know that I'm trying to take my work commercial.      Now, what about me? Well, obviously I like to write. I'm … more
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About this movie

Wiki

The Farrelly brothers continue their good-natured winning streak withFever Pitch, a romantic comedy charmed by fate and last-minute improvisation. The movie was originally written with a bittersweet ending, but something unexpected happened (kismet, or perhaps divine intervention?) when the Boston Red Sox scored miraculous victories in the 2004 playoffs and World Series, and Drew Barrymore and Jimmy Fallon were there, in character, to celebrate love and baseball as a pair of amiable lovers who learn to share their lives while accommodating Fallon's life-long passion for the Red Sox. You really have to love baseball to forgive the formulaic romance by veteran Hollywood screenwriters Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel (who also wroteA League of Their Own, and could write this stuff in their sleep), but the codirecting Farrellys make it work, along with the easygoing chemistry of Barrymore and Fallon. The movie bears little resemblance to Nick Hornby's source novel (which was more faithfully adapted as a1997 British comedystarring Colin Firth), but anyone who enjoyedHigh FidelityorAbout a Boywill recognize Hornby's keen understanding of men and women, and the hazards we all endure when playing the game of love.--Jeff Shannon
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Details

DVD Release Date: September 13, 2005
Runtime: 103 minutes
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Polls with this movie
Dumb and Dumber (1994)

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