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With: Drew Barrymore, Jimmy Fallon, Ione Skye, Jack Kehler, Scott H. Severance, Jessamy R. Finet, Maureen Keiller, Lenny Clarke, KaDee Strickland, Marissa Jaret Winokur, Evan Helmuth, Brandon Craggs, Brett Murphy, Isabella Fink, Jason Varitek, Johnny Damon, Trot Nixon, Jim Rice, Dennis Eckersley, Peter Gammons, Tim McCarver, Don Orsillo, Harold Reynolds, Stephen King
Written by: Lowell Ganz, Babaloo Mandel, based on a book by Nick Hornby
Directed by: Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for crude and sexual humor, and some sensuality
Running Time: 108
Date: 04/06/2005
IMDB

Fever Pitch (2005)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Home Plate Is Where the Heart Is

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Fever Pitch seems to have sprung from a board meeting rather than any particular artist wanting to tell a good story.

What's more, the random assortment of artists involved contradicts one another. The original book (about soccer) came from Nick Hornby, whose dark wit usually concerns the abominable behavior of males, especially toward the opposite sex. But, the squeaky-clean, lightweight comedy team of Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel (Splash, City Slickers) adapted the screenplay into a fluffy romantic comedy. Then, brothers Bobby and Peter Farrelly, known for their incredible endurance regarding gross-out gags and sacred-cow skewering, directed.

The casting is just as strange. Drew Barrymore, one of the screen's brightest and most lovable romantic comediennes, stars with Jimmy Fallon, one of the least interesting and least charismatic of the "Saturday Night Live" veterans.

The oddest thing of all is that, despite this bizarre mix of chefs, Fever Pitch actually works.

Fallon plays Ben Wrightman, a die-hard Red Sox fan with amazing season tickets inherited from his uncle and Barrymore plays Lindsey Meeks, an adorable math nerd with a high-paying, high-stress job in consulting.

Though Mandel and Ganz practically invented the "best friend" character in romantic comedies, this time they've given each partner three best friends, which at least provides an interesting twist. However, the gorgeous Ione Skye deserves better than this; her main role here is to listen to Drew Barrymore's love troubles.

The couple meets in winter, but struggles when spring and baseball season conflict with their romance. More stress rides on the Yankees games, less on out-of-town games, etc.

Set during the Red Sox's 2004 winning season, Fever Pitch mostly uses baseball's emotional highs and lows to comment on and enhance its love story. Amazingly, the movie avoids the usual opposites-attract formula and treats its relationship realistically, with lovely peaks and wicked valleys.

Yet the movie has its own peaks and valleys too. Fallon can't quite handle the wide range of emotions and performance his character requires. He fumbles a couple of the quick-witted jokes and balks at the real heart-rending stuff. But he does manage to smack a couple of base hits, and Barrymore props him up on more than one occasion.

The truth is that Fever Pitch doesn't try very hard. It mostly coasts, but it does so with grace and goodwill. Still, I suspect it will make a better afternoon video rental than a must-see.

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