Film

Fever Pitch (2005)

Dan Zak

Fever Pitch is something more complicated than a paean to the Red Sox mystique.


Fever Pitch

Director: Bobby Farrelly
Display Artist: Peter and Bobby Farrelly
MPAA rating: PG-13
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Cast: Drew Barrymore, Jimmy Fallon, Ione Skye, KaDee Strickland
First date: 2005
US Release Date: 2005-04-08

The first line of this review was going to be "The Red Sox broke the Curse of the Bambino last fall, but now they're stuck with the ghost of Jimmy Fallon's career." But, as improbable as a comeback from a 3-0 pennant race deficit, the world's most likable person (Drew Barrymore) somehow rubs off on its least likable and Fever Pitch, despite Sox saturation and Fallon fatigue, gets on base.

Directed by the Farrelly brothers, Fever Pitch is a meditation on the Boston Red Sox fan, or "one of God's most pathetic creatures," as our narrator intones at the beginning (obviously he hasn't bellied up to a bar with the Buffalo sports fan, whose grief isn't limited to one franchise). Fallon plays Ben, a mild-mannered math teacher who is still single at 30 because of his matrimonial bond to the Sox.

Lindsey (Barrymore), a big-shot business consultant, interprets his devotion as old-fashioned romanticism. She's drawn to Ben's childlike passion for the game, though he is quick to make sure she understands the extent of it before they get serious. She says she does; she's crazy about her work just as he's crazy about baseball. They're both passionate people with a burgeoning passion for each other. But games start getting in the way of family visits, birthday parties, and Ben and Lindsey's future together. This is the 2004 season. Anything can happen.

Fever Pitch is something more complicated than a paean to the Red Sox mystique, even though the Farrellys are diehard fans. We know the Red Sox won in real life and will win in the movie, and screenwriters Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel avoid dramatizing the game. So we're left with a tidy plot that works in spite of baseball rather than because of it. Had the Sox not won the pennant and Series last fall (as an earlier draft of the screenplay was counting on), it's hard to imagine the central love story would've been affected. The guy gets the girl, with or without help from David Ortiz. It's the baseball metaphor that is taxed -- Lindsey's a great catch, but can Ben make it to first base, second base, third base, all the way? Both parties have to make a sacrifice, even though love seems only a game. Title cards echoing these sentiments needlessly divide the film into chapters.

Barrymore, who also produced, grounds the movie. When Ben realizes the importance of a game he missed to be with Lindsey, the absurdity of his reaction would have deflated the movie if not for Barrymore's cutie-pie gravitas. She lends a dignity to the proceedings, putting in the fizz while balancing the sugar. The gods of romantic comedy should watch over her for their own sake. Fallon, a Yankee fan in reality, meets Barrymore halfway. Relatively sedate, he serves the movie, like he's doing penance for Taxi.

One puzzlement. The credits say Fever Pitch is "based on the book by Nick Hornby." This is a lie. Hornby, the British author, did write a book in '92 called Fever Pitch, a memoir of his football obsession and his relationship with Arsenal. But there is no similarity between book and movie except for sport lust and the title -- the book's "Pitch" is the football field, the movie's "Pitch" is the act of throwing the baseball. There is no human love story in Hornby's book, and the movie's narrative is a complete invention. Saying Fever Pitch is based on Fever Pitch is like saying The Patriot was based on the Constitution.

This is one of the few Farrelly films the brothers have not also written, evident in its conventional approach -- meet-cute, puppy love, rift, and reconciliation. While they do not cork the film with Carrey-style antics, the Farrellys still make it theirs. Someone does end up shaving someone else's testicles. Insert requisite baseball pun here.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Film

The Dance of Male Forms in Denis' 'Beau travail'

Claire Denis' masterwork of cinematic poetry, Beau travail, is a cinematic ballet that tracks through tone and style the sublimation of violent masculine complexes into the silent convulsions of male angst.

Music

The Cradle's 'Laughing in My Sleep' Is an Off-kilter Reflection of Musical Curiosity

The Cradle's Paco Cathcart has curated a thoughtfully multifarious album. Laughing in My Sleep is an impressive collection of 21 tracks, each unapologetic in their rejection of expectations.

Music

Tobin Sprout Goes Americana on 'Empty Horses'

During the heyday of Guided By Voices, Tobin Sprout wasn't afraid to be absurd amongst all that fuzz. Sprout's new album, Empty Horses, is not the Tobin Sprout we know.

Film

'All In: The Fight for Democracy' Spotlights America's Current Voting Restrictions as Jim Crow 2.0

Featuring an ebullient and combative Stacey Abrams, All In: The Fight for Democracy shows just how determined anti-democratic forces are to ensure that certain groups don't get access to the voting booth.

Music

'Transgender Street Legend Vol. 2' Finds Left at London "At My Peak and Still Rising"

"[Pandemic lockdown] has been a detriment to many people's mental health," notes Nat Puff (aka Left at London) around her incendiary, politically-charged new album, "but goddamn it if I haven't been making some bops here and there!"

Music

Daniel Romano's 'How Ill Thy World Is Ordered' Is His Ninth LP of 2020 and It's Glorious

No, this is isn't a typo. Daniel Romano's How Ill Thy World Is Ordered is his ninth full-length release of 2020, and it's a genre-busting thrill ride.

Music

The Masonic Travelers Offer Stirring Rendition of "Rock My Soul" (premiere)

The Last Shall Be First: the JCR Records Story, Volume 1 captures the sacred soul of Memphis in the 1970s and features a wide range of largely forgotten artists waiting to be rediscovered. Hear the Masonic Travelers "Rock My Soul".

Music

GLVES Creates Mesmerizing Dark Folktronica on "Heal Me"

Australian First Nations singer-songwriter GLVES creates dense, deep, and darkish electropop that mesmerizes with its blend of electronics and native sounds on "Heal Me".

Music

Otis Junior and Dr. Dundiff Tells Us "When It's Sweet" It's So Sweet

Neo-soul singer Otis Junior teams with fellow Kentuckian Dr. Dundiff and his hip-hop beats for the silky, groovy "When It's Sweet".

Music

Lars and the Magic Mountain's "Invincible" Is a Shoegazey, Dreamy Delight (premiere)

Dutch space pop/psychedelic band Lars and the Magic Mountain share the dreamy and gorgeous "Invincible".

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Music

Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" Wryly Looks at Lost Love (premiere + interview)

Singer-songwriter Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" is a less a flat-earther's anthem and more a wry examination of heartache.

Music

Big Little Lions' "Distant Air" Is a Powerful Folk-Anthem (premiere)

Folk-pop's Big Little Lions create a powerful anthem with "Distant Air", a song full of sophisticated pop hooks, smart dynamics, and killer choruses.

Music

The Flat Five Invite You to "Look at the Birdy" (premiere)

Chicago's the Flat Five deliver an exciting new single that exemplifies what some have called "twisted sunshine vocal pop".

Music

Brian Bromberg Pays Tribute to Hendrix With "Jimi" (premiere + interview)

Bass giant Brian Bromberg revisits his 2012 tribute to Jimi Hendrix 50 years after his passing, and reflects on the impact Hendrix's music has had on generations.

Jedd Beaudoin
Music

Shirley Collins' ​'Heart's Ease'​ Affirms Her Musical Prowess

Shirley Collins' Heart's Ease makes it apparent these songs do not belong to her as they are ownerless. Collins is the conveyor of their power while ensuring the music maintains cultural importance.

Books

Ignorance, Fear, and Democracy in America

Anti-intellectualism in America is, sadly, older than the nation itself. A new collection of Richard Hofstadter's work from Library of America traces the history of ideas and cultural currents in American society and politics.

By the Book

Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto (excerpt)

Just as big tech leads world in data for profit, the US government can produce data for the public good, sans the bureaucracy. This excerpt of Julia Lane's Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto will whet your appetite for disruptive change in data management, which is critical for democracy's survival.

Julia Lane

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.