Friday, November 11, 2005

Fever Pitch - Low and Outside

I really wanted to catch Fever Pitch. I missed it in the theatres, so I got the DVD and sat down eagerly to watch the story of a baseball fan whose fanaticism interferes with his relationship.

Unfortunately, this is a ball rather than a strike. A foul ball. A knuckleball, in fact. You get the baseball metaphor. This is a mildly fun film that could've been so much more.

I totally identified with the fanaticism part. Everything doesn't stop in my life when baseball season starts, but it's certainly pushed to the back of the bus. I finally had to give up my Shakespeare subscription because it interfered with baseball games too many times. I breathe a sigh of relief that I can get my schedule back to normal at the conclusion of the season, after I do a little mourning that our season ended too soon.

So I was ready to accept Jimmy Fallon's fan who really wants to make it with Drew Barrymore. However, I was severely disappointed.

There are some fun moments. Like when Drew announces that her company is sending her to Paris for the weekend, and she is inviting her new love! Her enthusiasm is infectious, but as Jimmy hugs her, he's glancing furiously over her shoulder at his Red Sox calendar. This is a crucial time of the season. They need me.

Only that scene falls a little flat because the director plays it too seriously. There's no cut, no great double-take. If you take a look at the ads that got you into the theatre, this scene is much funnier because it's cut better.

The best part of Fever Pitch is Drew Barrymore, caught up in her work but trying to make this new relationship work. The worst part, unfortunately, is Jimmy Fallon, in his first movie, who although has some comedic timing from his time on SNL doesn't really work up to the level of his co-star. His character lacks the charisma, or even the personality, to convince us that Drew would even be attracted to him from Moment #1.

We realize the producers and director had to suddenly change their script when the Boston Red Sox, out of nowhere, won the pennant race and then the World Series. The two stars luckily happened to be at the game when this happened and were rushed out onto the field to get their photos taken. But the directors would have us believe that the season ended when the Red Sox won against the Yankees instead of the St. Louis Cardinals. Oh, well, maybe to the diehard Red Sox fans, that's really true. But to the rest of us, the ending doesn't ring true when a man who lives for baseball agrees to sell his season tickets to be with a woman who isn't sure she wants to spend her life with a boy who never grew up. I mean, I wouldn't.

But then, I'm waiting for spring training to begin. I'm also waiting for a baseball fan movie that gets it right.


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