A Film Review By The Mike
|Rating: PG-13 for Sexual References, Hardcore Baseball Action, and Vomit
Starring: Drew Barrymore, Jimmy Fallon, KaDee Strickland
Directed By: Peter Farrelly and Bobby Farelly
Anyone who’s known me during the months of September through January will understand that it wouldn’t take much for the story behind Fever Pitch to strike a chord with me. The film, from a book by Nick Hornby, is another example of how well that man knows how men think…but also another example of how easy it is to translate his message to our (or anyone’s) culture. Telling the tale of a relationship between a man and woman who’re separated by a love for a sports team seems like an unimportant conflict to most. But to many men who’ve lived with this passion, it’s one of the most pressing concerns they’ll have. And to men like that (or like me), there’s so much Fever Pitch shows that we can identify with.
It’s a fact that there are few people more loyal than fans of the Boston Red Sox. It’s also a fact that last fall’s American League Championship series is one of the most miraculous sports events in the history of man. With the exception of the overly dramatized “Hollywood Ending,” I feel safe guaranteeing you that somewhere out there, at least one relationship very similar to this one has existed. Looking throughout the years, at all the sports and all the teams, there are probably millions of men that can relate, even if it’s not to the specifics. I know I could.
I’ve had conversations with many people that are word for word reflections of things that I heard in this movie. I’ve done many things exactly the way our hero does, and shared many of the same emotional outbursts that the script gives him. That script, and – more importantly – the source material, really know what they’re talking about when it comes to how a man thinks about his team, leaving the sports fan in me feeling acceptable, if only for a couple of hours. And that’s a rarity in today’s society.
There’s a scene early in Fever Pitch where our lead tells his new girlfriend exactly how he feels about the Red Sox, and how committed he is to them. And, thanks to the great script, she replies by calling him a romantic. It’s a perfect explanation of the phenomenon that is being a fan, and the Farrelly Brothers’ film captures it like no story I’ve ever seen told has.
Yes, I said The Farrelly Brothers, and I am referring to the same guys that made Dumb and Dumber, There’s Something About Mary, and Shallow Hal. I know you won’t believe it ’till you see it, so I’ll just say that this film will appear surprisingly restrained to anyone who knows the duo’s tastes. There’s no handicapped character that’s only good for a joke, not much toilet humor, and very few scenes in which a character is annoying for the sake of being annoying. In fact, the seriousness with which they treat the film is nothing short of outstanding, and represents a great stride for Peter and Bobby as filmmakers.
It’s also a great stride for its stars, Drew Barrymore and Jimmy Fallon. Barrymore’s been in the salvage bin for a few years now, but she’s undeniable as the businesswoman who’s trying to balance fun, romance, and corporate domination like so many women today do. As for Fallon, who’s admittedly no John Cusack or Hugh Grant, he’s shockingly sympathetic and terribly tumultuous in the moments he needs to be, and charming and witty the rest of the time. Like the men I mentioned in the last sentence, he manages to become a lovably feeble Hornby hero.
So, let me wrap it up for you. We’ve got an adaptation of a book about soccer that’s moved the setting to America and made the story about baseball. It’s directed by two men who are among the most crude and juvenile directors in cinema’s history, and it stars a duo of comic actors that have never been looked at as “top-of-the-line” for this type of film. And despite all those warning signs, Fever Pitch is one of the most charming and enjoyable movies I’ve seen in recent memory.
Do you believe it? Neither did I. But I assure the impossible is possible, and that if you do give it a chance this movie will grab hold of your heart and bring a smile to your face. We’ve got sports for the guys, romance for the girls, and enough charm and humor for everyone. Fever Pitch is a triumphant romantic comedy that’s realistically dramatic, and is easily the best film so far in this new year.