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Fever Pitch’ delivers a change-up

Jacqueline Pimentel-Gannon | Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Drew Barrymore and Jimmy Fallon star in “Fever Pitch,” a screen adaptation of the same-named book of British author Nick Hornby (“About a Boy,” “High Fidelity”). The Farrelly brothers direct this romantic comedy, which lacks much of their typical crude humor that can be found in “There’s Something About Mary” and “Dumb and Dumber.”Like many sports films, “Fever Pitch” depicts a team that conquers seemingly insurmountable odds to win it all, but this is not the primary focus of the movie. “Fever Pitch” tells the story of Ben (Fallon), a schoolteacher obsessed with the Boston Red Sox, and his relationship with Lindsey Meeks (Barrymore). Ben seems like a great guy at first and Lindsey’s friends wonder why the 30-something is still single. The reason becomes clear when the coming of spring brings the start of the baseball season. Ben’s lifelong love for the Sox stems from his childhood when he first moved to Boston and found a friend in the Sox, and it has only grown stronger. He follows the Sox to spring training, makes sure his two season tickets near the dugout are used at every game, and tapes the few games he can’t attend. Lindsey is very concentrated on her career and a possible promotion and is initially excited that Ben won’t be constantly demanding her attention. The situation soon changes, however, and juggling both a relationship and the Sox gets increasingly difficult. Ben really feels this when going to a party with Lindsey causes him to miss an incredible 8-run comeback game over the Yankees. Ultimately Ben feels forced to choose which he loves more – Lindsey or the Sox.Lindsey, meanwhile, has other plans and this results in an amusing chase scene, which actually takes place in Fenway Park. “Fever Pitch” finishes much like Boston’s 2004 season – with a fairytale ending.The acting is good, though the leads overshadow most all other characters. Barrymore plays the career-driven woman well, and Fallon is believable as a Red Sox fanatic. However, considering what the pair goes through, one would expect even more fights and disagreements from a real life couple. “Fever Pitch” breaks with tradition refreshingly. The main characters are not kept apart by a normal culprit – an affair, a job, a lie or a secret – but by America’s favorite pastime. Ben is upfront with his passion, and it’s nice to see a couple working through a known issue rather than finding out something shocking late in the film.There are not many individually memorable lines, so you certainly won’t walk out quoting this movie, but there are several scenes that had the audience laughing. Sports fans might feel that justice has been served when Lindsey is focusing on her work on a laptop and takes a foul ball to the head during one game. BoSox fans will love the chance to relive their history-making, curse-breaking season. Interestingly, the script originally assumed that the Sox would lose, so filmmakers had to adjust the story midway through. The baseball footage was real, with crews spending lots of time filming at Fenway. That also explains why Fallon and Barrymore were seen on the field in Boston after the Sox won the World Series.This is certainly not a thought-provoking film, and those looking for anything but 101 minutes of light entertainment should look elsewhere. “Fever Pitch” is a predictable, happily-ever-after flick, but its premise and how it arrives at its expected conclusion are fresh and both males and females are likely to enjoy it.