April 11, 2005

Fever Pitch

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Fever Pitch is … umm … okay. It’s not bad, but that’s all it is.

Ben Wrightman (Jimmy Fallon — a high school teacher who adopted baseball as a surrogate family after his parents’ divorce. During the winter-off season, he meets Lindsay Meeks (Drew Barrymore) — a workaholic in the running for a huge promotion.

They meet. Smartass teenagers were involved. The first date was disastrous, and she has a dog. Of course, they would fall in love.

Problems arise however when the season starts and a higher position at Lindsay’s company opens up, causing strain in their la-dee-da relationship. Will true love prevail? Will each others’ defense mechanisms get in the way of an otherwise harmonious relationship? Will the curse of the Bambino prove itself once again? Did Drew Barrymore really lose that much weight? Will Jimmy Fallon stop trying to be funny and be funny for once? Will they learn to compromise? We know they will work it out in the end. And I accept that; I don’t mind that. The least they can do is make it interesting and even funny.

The film is a romantic comedy wrapped around the Red Sox and its serendipitous win in 2004. While Fallon’s character is supposed to have an unhealthy manic obsession with the sport, the film fails to make me care about the anything close to the Red Sox tradition.

The script, written by Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel is an adaptation of Nick Hornby’s semi-autobiographical devotion to soccer and his favorite team, Arsenal. The insipid screenplay fails to stir any emotion–every conflict is no more than a pebble on the road and tensions are mere irritations. While the film insists on conflict between the two lovers, the writing and the acting prove otherwise.

I don’t care if they ever got together. I don’t care if the Sox win. The film only skates through what should be high points of emotion and only lightly touches upon the Peter Pan Complex that has been the subject of many (better) films before it. The jokes are sparse and only chuckle-worthy.

A cloud of blah hangs over the cast. Fallon is only tolerable as a lead in a romantic comedy and hardly acceptable as a real character. Perhaps it’s my personal grudge against Fallon leaving SNL only to sell-out and make the nasally offensive Taxi. It could even be my antagonism against Fallon’s over-plucked eyebrows. Whatever the reason, Fallon is annoying. His jokes are off tempo, and he wears too much make-up. Barrymore, as always, is likable. But that is all. I can’t say anything bad about her because she is sweetly unfussy, and her hair is pretty.

The supporting cast has its share of quirky characters–from the ambiguously gay to the socially awkward. All of who are unremarkable and uninteresting. Fever Pitch, directed by Peter and Bobby Farelly, is watchable only for the smooth editing and respectable direction. The movie is fluffy and offensively appropriate. It is devoid of the Farelly flair and packed with unrelenting artificial cuteness. The movie is so sterile that I didn’t realize the Farellys’ involvement until the final credits. There are only allusions to vomit and the only incident of slapstick consisted of Barrymore getting hit in the head by a baseball. And it doesn’t interfere with her hair.

Despite Barrymore’s consistently charming performance and the Farellys’ clean directing, I just don’t give a damn. Fever Pitch is neither romantic nor comedic; rather it’s blah and blah.

Archived article by Whine Del Rosario