Farrellys’ ‘Fever Pitch’ has no balls, strikes out

Allan Lamb

Don’t talk to me! You were in Taxi! Established actress Drew Barrymore and struggling star Jimmy Fallon hit and miss in the Farrelly Brothers’ Fever Pitch.

Credit: Andrew popik

With Fever Pitch, the Farelly brothers show they’ve totally lost their edge.

The film begins as young Ben (Jason Spevack), a lonely kid, goes to a Red Sox game with his uncle, Carl, and immediately falls in love with the game. Uncle Carl dies and leaves grown-up Ben (Jimmy Fallon), a high school advanced math teacher, two lifetime season tickets to Red Sox home games.

Ben’s obsession with the Sox is interrupted, sort of, when he meets and falls in love with Lindsey (Drew Barrymore), a work-aholic, on-the-go independent girl. Ben is caught trying to balance his love for baseball with his love for Lindsey. But when he misses an incredible comeback win by the Sox against the Yankees, he begins to question if the romance is worth missing out on baseball.

In keeping with the movie’s baseball theme, here’s where Fever Pitch strikes out.

Strike One: Fever Pitch lacks all the risqué and clever humor that made the Farrellys’ previous films so hilarious. Most of the humor is barely PG-13, consisting of wry, and often cliché, sexual humor and the absurdity of sports fanatics, reminiscent of Major League or Celtic Pride, with some sense of truth, but has been done several times before.

There is also some physical and slapstick humor, but the directors and writers take no risks, holding back on anything that might actually fit well into something actually deserving of a PG-13 rating.

Strike Two: The intertitles between the “chapters” are totally unnecessary. Given that the film is an adaptation of Nick Hornby’s novel of the same name, it’s not a flippin’ silent film, the intertitles just don’t fit and often give away what’s going to happen next, taking away any chance for the audience to think for themselves. Nitpicky as it may seem, it’s poor film technique and takes away from the flow of the film.

Strike Three: The movie fails to build any suspense or conflict. It merely shows the development of a relationship and the sometimes funny things that happen when the two are together. Every time you think there might be a conflict it is resolved in some cute, “sweet,” romantic way. This isn’t a problem until one becomes so fed up with it, and when the real conflict happens, one couldn’t care less after being teased so many times.

Strike Four: Fever Pitch has no idea what type of movie it is. It starts out as a pastoral, nostalgic baseball flick, then tries to be a cutesy romantic comedy, although the romance is more physical than emotional. Then comes an element of seriousness, disrupting the tone of the rest of the film until the stereotypical, weak romantic comedy ending.

On a positive note, the few parts that are funny are really funny, and the movie is enjoyable for those who enjoy romantic comedies. Barrymore is a decent leading lady as usual, and Fallon earns himself some credit by making his role believable.

The sports cinematography is beautifully done, especially since most of it was real footage of the Red Sox in the play-offs and World Series combined with separately shot scenes at Fenway Park.

However, the cinematographers and leading players aren’t enough to make up for the poor scripting and the typical, weak story. If you’re expecting laughs galore, Fever Pitch will be disappointing, but if you like romantic comedies, it’s worth a look.

Contact Pop Arts reporter Allan Lamb at [email protected].