Fever Pitch review by Mike Long

When I have written about sports films in the past, I have invariably discussed the various cliches which haunt this sub-genre and how most of these movies do nothing to avoid them. We often get an underdog team overcoming insurmountable odds, and so on and so forth. But, rarely do these films focus on the fans. Sure, they may figure into the story, but few films are devoted to those who religiously follow the games. The latest film from The Farrelly Brothers, Fever Pitch has the distinction of being that rare movie which choose to spotlight those who worship sports instead of those who play it. Unfortunately, that aspect of Fever Pitch is the only thing which makes it unique.

Fever Pitch tells the story of the relationship between Lindsey Meeks (Drew Barrymore) and Ben Wrightman (Jimmy Fallon). Lindsey is an upwardly-mobile career-woman who hasnt had much success in the dating world due to the fact that she always goes out with guys who are just as competitive as her. Ben is an amiable high-school math teacher. They meet when Ben takes a group of students on a tour of Lindseys office. Although they are quite opposite, the attraction is mutual and the two begin to date. They go out for a few weeks before Ben reveals his big secret to Lindsey -- hes a die-hard Boston Red Sox fan. Lindsey takes this news in stride and enjoys going to ball games with Ben. But soon, Lindsey begins to realize that Bens love for the game borders on obsession and it may hinder him from having a completely committed relationship.

Sometimes when I review a film, it can be difficult to articulate exactly what makes the worth recommending or not. For Fever Pitch, I will not have that problem, as the film's two biggest deficits are very easy to pin-point. The first problem has to do with the casting. I usually don't single out actors in movies, as I focus more on the direction, cinematography, etc. But, in this movie, the awkward acting really stands out. Drew Barrymore certainly has an on-screen presence and she can light up the screen. However, she needs a powerful or energetic actor to bounce off of, and Fallon can't deliver. Fallon had some funny moments on Saturday Night Live, but when playing a "normal guy" in movies, he comes across as very, very bland. Fallon either plays Ben as too low-key or he does a 180 and appears to be going off-script. Either way, he's far too weak. So, the result is two actors who shouldn't go it alone being forced to rely on one another.

The other problem with the film is the story and the overall vibe of the movie. The idea that Ben is so obsessed with the Sox that it inhibits his social life is definitely an interesting one, and probably one that many viewers can relate to. However, it gives the move a very disjointed feel, as it's very hard to like Ben at times. Yet, the way Fallon plays the character, the audience doesn't really care that they don't like Ben. This does nothing to help the fact that the entire film feels flat. Sure, The Farrelly Brothers have the right to expand their horizons and move away from the loopy comedies which put them on the map, but one expects a certain level of energy from one of their films. However, Fever Pitch feels very lethargic and sluggish throughout. The surprising thing about this is that real-life story of the 2004 Red Sox was very exciting, even to those who don't follow baseball, so it seems impossible that someone could make a boring movie about this championship run. Fever Pitch has a few nice moments, most of which are supplied by Barrymore, but overall, the film is quite disappointing, and strikes out very early.

Fever Pitch is bunted onto DVD courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The film has come to DVD in three separate releases -- a full-screen edition, a widescreen edition, and a special edition for Red Sox fans. For the purposes of this review, only the widescreen version was viewed. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the transfer has been enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is sharp and clear, showing very little grain and no defects from the source material. The colors look very good here, as they are vibrant and true, especially the reds. The transfer shows very little artifacting and basically no problems from edge-enhancement. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which delivers clear dialogue and sound effects. This track really shines during the game scenes, as the crowd noise fills the surround speakers. The audio also features nice stereo effects, but there isn't a lot of subwoofer action.

This DVD edition of Fever Pitch contains a few notable extras. We start with an audio commentary from The Farrelly Brothers. If you've ever heard a comment from this pair before, then you know what to expect as they point out everyone that they personally know who's in the film. However, they do a bit more here, as they give a lot of information about the filming locations and the actors. They discuss how the script came about and allude to the fact that they consciously changed their style. The DVD contains 13 "Deleted Scenes" which total 19 minutes. Six of those minutes are made up of an extended opening. There is a 6-minute "Gag Reel". The DVD contains two "Internet Featurettes". In "Love Triangle" (2 minutes), Drew Barrymore describes the characters in the film. "Break the Curse" (3 minutes) looks at how the film had to be changed to reflect the reality of the Red Sox's season. "Making a Scene: Fever Pitch" (8 minutes) -- from Fox Movie Channel (?) -- repeats some of the footage from "Break the Curse", as it once again explores the changes made in the original story. However, neither of these featurettes explain how the movie was originally going to end. The extras are rounded out by the "Theatrical Trailer" for Fever Pitch, which is letterboxed at 1.85:1.


4 out of 10 Jackasses

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