Fever Pitch: Cursed Reversed Edition
February 2, 2006
Unlike fellow Saturday Night Live alumni Will Farrell, Jimmy Fallon has yet to make the successful jump from television to movies. He showed promise with his small (and almost unrecognizable) role in Almost Famous (2000) and then completely wasted it in the utterly forgettable Taxi (2004). It would seem that Fever Pitch (2005) has all the right ingredients for a successful romantic comedy: the talented Farrelly brothers behind the camera, veteran comedy screenwriters Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel and the always charming Drew Barrymore as the romantic interest.
Since he was a little kid Ben Wrightman (Fallon) has been a diehard Boston Red Sox fan—the kind that lives and dies with the ups (and mostly) downs of the team. This begins to change when he meets busy, beautiful executive Lindsey Meeks (Barrymore). She can feel her biological clock ticking and the pressure is on to find a man, get married and have kids. Ben is worried that Lindsey is out of his league because she is more successful.
Ben seems a normal enough guy, at first. He’s nice, good with kids (he’s a school teacher) and even takes care of Lindsey when he shows up for their first date to find that she’s horribly ill. Once baseball season starts however, Ben becomes a different person—a fanatical devotee of the Red Sox who schedules his life around the team’s season. This doesn’t sit too well with Lindsey and leads to serious problems in their relationship.
The scenes where Ben and Lindsey are courting and getting to know each other are well done as the Farrelly’s convincingly build the growing attraction between these two people. The chemistry between Barrymore and Fallon is believable and genuine. It feels like we are entering comfy romantic comedy territory until Ben’s obsession with the Red Sox rears its ugly head once baseball season begins.
Jimmy Fallon brings a slightly rumpled charm to his role. He is at his best when he plays things low-key and seems to have learned from his mistakes with the whole Taxi debacle and doesn’t shamelessly mug for the camera at every opportunity. In Fever Pitch he is a credible Everyman.
Drew Barrymore, a veteran of many romantic comedies, is her usual adorable self, playing a successful businesswoman looking for a nice guy to be with and thinks that she’s found him with Ben. The actress knows how to bring out all the nuances in her character. Lindsey is not a ruthless, controlling businesswoman. She is understanding of Ben’s Red Sox obsession and even goes to games with him, reads books on the team’s history, and so on.
Fever Pitch was totally misrepresented by its trailers that emphasized the goofier aspects of the movie and taking them totally out of context. Fever Pitch eschews typical brainless comedies of this sort by spending a lot of time establishing the romantic leads and their courting time together. In doing so, they let us get to know them before the inevitable conflicts arise. The comedic situations aren’t played as broad and over-the-top (despite what the trailers would have you believe) as you would expect from the same guys who made Dumb and Dumber (1994) and There’s Something About Mary (1998). Fever Pitch is a surprisingly restrained and mature effort by the Farrellys.
There is an “Alternate Ending” which amounts to a few more seconds of footage of the Red Sox’s historic comeback to beat the Yankees and clinch the Pennant only to go on to win the World Series and finally break the Curse of the Bambino. You can watch this ending separately or integrated with the rest of the movie.
There is also an audio commentary by Peter and Bobby Farrelly. They mention briefly that their film was based on Nick Hornby’s book of the same name but was originally about British soccer team Arsenal. The Farrellys don’t see many movies as they mistakenly claim that this the first film in which Barrymore plays a full-grown woman. Obviously, they haven’t seen Riding in Cars with Boys (2001). As with previous tracks for their other movies, the Farrellys spend the bulk of their time pointing out who everyone is, including their friends who were extras in the movie. While that’s nice, it makes for a boring commentary.
There are 13 deleted scenes that feature more footage of Lindsey with her friends. Most of these scenes amount to little additional screen time and were rightly cut.
There is a “Gag Reel” that features a montage of Fallon and the cast goofing around on the set, blowing their lines and so on.
“’Love Triangle’ Internet Featurette” has Barrymore talking about her character and how she deals with Ben’s Red Sox obsession.
“’Break the Curse’ Internet Featurette” examines the Curse of the Bambino and how the filmmakers dealt with the Red Sox winning the World Series. Barrymore and Fallon actually went to the World Series in St. Louis and filmed them winning.
“Making A Scene ‘Fever Pitch’” is taken from the Fox Movie Channel’s version of Sundance’s Anatomy of a Scene show. The filmmakers had no idea that the Red Sox would get into the playoffs much less win the World Series and so the producers were able to get the two leads to St. Louis and get them on the field when the Red Sox won. Not surprisingly, this was a logistical nightmare but everything worked out and resulted in a nice way to end the movie.
Finally, there is a theatrical trailer.