Image Courtesy of Amazon.com
Drew Barrymore……….Lindsey Meeks
If there’s one thing about romantic comedies, it’s that they as a rule follow a very strict formula. The same can be said of romantic comedies involving Drew Barrymore. You can pair her with a comedian who’s a bit of an oddball, toss in a formulaic and predictable story, and watch as the wackiness ensues into a feel-good comedy. It’s worked with her and Adam Sandler (The Wedding Singer, 50 First Dates), so it stands to reason you could insert another quirky comedian and expect the same sort of lightning in a bottle.
I think that explains the reasoning behind Fever Pitch. Barrymore plays Lindsey Meeks, a career woman on the fast track to success. Opposite Barrymore is SNL alum Jimmy Fallon to play her quirky love interest Ben, a school teacher with a heart of gold and a secret. He’s a gigantic Red Sox fan, and to say he’s obsessive about it is quite the understatement. He’s the type of fan that sees himself as part of the team, immersing himself in everything that is the Boston Red Sox as the stereotypical super fan. He lives and dies with the fortunes of his team; during the off-season he meets Lindsey through a pseudo-work related function. They meet and start dating with typical romantic comedy hi-jinks, and then she finds out about his obsession. It’s easy to predict where the movie is going and how it ends, but the main problem of this movie is that for the first 2/3 it takes the formula and does it well. The final third is where the movie falls apart, and it’s mostly because of the misuse of Fallon.
He is a funny guy at times, but there is only a certain point he can go to and still be anything other than bad as an actor. Those are the times that require him to do more than just stand there and say a witty one-liner (and then look at the camera for approval). In the final third of the movie he is required to do much more than he can. Fallon’s limitations as a leading comedic actor are on display in spades; he’s comic relief, no more or no less. For him to try and have to bring a sense of urgency or drama is not his forte. The latter portion of the movie goes downhill very quickly because of it. During the main portions of the movie that require him to do something more than look cute and say witty lines he’s awkwardly out of place, but you don’t notice this quite as much as you do in the end because of the presence of Barrymore.
Barrymore, a veteran of more than a handful of romantic comedies, brings this experience into hand by sheer force of will and commands attention to herself and, most importantly, away from Fallon. It’s her presence, her ability to compensate for his short-comings, which allows the romance to come off as plausible. And it’s a shame, as the movie is actually quite good for the bulk of time.
Fever Pitch is set up as a story set from the end of the baseball season, through spring training and the regular season, and finally through the post-season of the 2004 baseball season. Culminating with the Red Sox 2004 World Series Title, the movie uses the baseball season as a metaphor for the relationship between Ben and Lindsey. During the winter is when they meet, and it’s a time of newness and untapped potential. There’s always hope for next year, and as the relationship progresses from awkwardness to familiarity we move to spring training. While baseball teams evaluate their talent, Ben and Lindsey evaluate the position they want the other in their life. But the problem is that as the season progresses the movie starts losing steam; there is only a certain point that Barrymore can carry the movie, and that’s roughly 80 minutes in, and after this it’s apparent that Fallon is just not very good.
The formulaic conclusion feels hollow; when we are supposed to be rallying behind Ben, when Fallon is supposed to be at his best for the movie, you can’t because Fallon doesn’t get the job done. It’s satisfactory, for sure, but at the same time the movie’s big moment doesn’t come off with all of the fireworks one would expect. Fallon’s dramatic capabilities are non-existent; he’s good at saying funny things and looking at the camera, much like his days on SNL. There comes a point in a romantic comedy where there comes a point in time where it has to go out and stake a claim. Fallon never does.
Score : 5.5 / 10
Presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen, Fever Pitch has a great transfer. For a film that really doesn’t live or die depending on how good it looks, Fever Pitch looks great. The colors are vivid and there’s a quality separation of the hues.
Featuring Dolby 5.1 Surround, the film has a great sound. For a dialogue based movie, Fever Pitch has a great score that doesn’t overwhelm the dialogue as well.
The Extras: Commentary by Peter and Bobby Farrelly, “Break the Curse” featurette, 13 deleted scenes, Gag reel, “Love Triangle” featurette, Making of scene: “Fever Pitch”, Theatrical trailer, Inside Look: In Her Shoes
Commentary by Peter and Bobby Farrelly
13 deleted scenes don’t really add much to what the film could’ve been. This isn’t a case like After the Sunset where what was left off the table was more substantial than what was left on it. A lot of what is cut are scenes featuring Jimmy Fallon’s attempts at being funny and clearly not working.
Gag reel featuring generally more unfunny Fallon moments meshed in with various outtakes and flubbed lines. Pretty standard stuff, nothing really notable or funny to be had.
“Love Triangle” featurette is a two minute fluff piece featuring Drew Barrymore discussing the movie. Nothing notable, just her talking about the movie itself in relatively generic terms and discussing Fallon’s character.
“Break the Curse” featurette is another two minute fluff piece featuring Bobby & Peter Farrelly, Drew Barrymore and Jimmy Fallon discussing the Red Sox and how it was unique to film the movie while the Red Sox made their miraculous comeback to win their first World Series since Babe Ruth left. Once again, nothing notable is said.
Making of scene: “Fever Pitch” is a Fox Movie Channel production about how they made the final scene in St. Louis where Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore run onto the field. It is interesting how they did it, as they were able to use Fox Sports and be able to finish the scene. They interview a lot of the Red Sox players from that night as well about their perspective on it. Running around seven minutes, it’s the same sort of fluff piece as the other two featurettes.
Inside Look: In Her Shoes is a fluff piece about Fox’s latest project. Cameron Diaz, Shirley McClaine and Toni Collette talk about the upcoming release from Fox. This is yet another in a series of fluff pieces, with nothing really to do other than hype the movie which comes out relatively soon shockingly enough.
Score : 6 / 10