Tuesday, May 03, 2005

'Fever Pitch' worth a look

"If you’re in love with the game," the late Billy Martin once observed about baseball, "you can’t turn it on and off like a light. It’s something that runs so deep it takes you over.’’

So it is with high school teacher Ben (Jimmy Fallon) in Bobby and Peter Farrelly’s "Fever Pitch." Ben’s uncle took him to a Boston Red Sox game at Fenway Park when he was 10 years old and something clicked. The shy youngster grew up without many friends and used the Sox to fill his emotional void.

The attachment has lasted to adulthood. Ben celebrates the arrival of his Fenway season tickets by hugging the UPS driver. His apartment wall is a replica of the park’s left field Green Monster. He tucks himself into bed at night lying beneath Red Sox sheets.

Ben, you see, is obsessed. He is, the narrator tells us, "one of God’s most pathetic creatures: a Red Sox fan."

Enter Lindsey Meeks (Drew Barrymore), a successful workaholic who lives life on the fast track. After meeting Ben one winter, she admires his devotion for the Sox and tells him he is a romantic. The two fall in love. Ben even asks her to go to opening day with him.

Then the season starts and the trouble begins.

Loosely based on the Nick Hornby novel about English soccer, "Fever Pitch" is a fluffy but enjoyable romantic comedy about obsession, growing up and discovering the things in life that truly matter. As Ben’s obsession with the Sox begins to hinder his relationship with Lindsey, he gets a speck of wisdom from one of his students: "You love the Sox," the kid tells Ben. "But have they ever loved you back?"

"Fever Pitch" fails to reach the bar the Farrelly brothers set with earlier hits "There’s Something About Mary" and "Dumb & Dumber." The humor is not as enjoyably offbeat as those earlier hits and the ending seems a bit rushed.

Some viewers might also find the romance a bit distracting, but "Fever Pitch" has a certain charm to it that is enhanced by the sheer likability of Fallon and Barrymore. The montage of moments at Fenway Park set to the strains of Neil Diamond’s "Sweet Caroline" is pure joy.

Don’t expect to see Oscar material here, but "Fever Pitch" is worth a look. Although it is not quite a home run, it’s at least a triple with a close slide into third.

"Fever Pitch" is rated PG-13.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

mabe is alive and posting. wonderful. happy days are here again.

5:35 PM  

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