Reel Matt

This blog started as my movie marathon — watching a movie a day for a whole year — and has continued as a place for me to write reviews about movies, TV, and various other items.

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Fever Pitch

Film #373

THE PLOT

Lindsay is stuck in the middle of her relationship with Ben and his passion for the Boston Red Sox.

Year 2, Film #8

THE REVIEW: After seeing the world come to an end for the past couple of weeks, I figured it was time to lighten the mood a bit and I set out to do that with Fever Pitch. Little did I know how funny and uplifting this film would actually be. Looking at the posters or very basic summaries, you might get the impression that this is a film about the Boston Red Sox, specifically their 2004 World Series Championship season. It is, and as a Red Sox fan who experienced that season, it means a great deal to see that unfold yet again. But there’s also another aspect to the film and that’s the relationship between Ben (Jimmy Fallon), the die hard Sox fan, and Lindsay (Drew Barrymore) who, despite living and working in Boston, seems to know nothing about the team.

As much as I’m going to say the Sox triumphant season isn’t the main focus of the film, it is probably my favorite part about the film. I was only eleven when the Sox won the World Series and while I remember staying up to watch the games and filled with excitement when we won, my memories aren’t as clear as I would like them to be. But the way I know that time has stuck with me is because whenever I see footage from those playoff games, whether it be in this film, the terrific ESPN documentary Four Days in October for their 30 for 30 series, or any other example, I feel like it’s happening all over again. For me, I tense up a bit and lean forward in my seat. I know about the unprecedented comeback, I know about Big Papi’s walk-off home runs and Curt Schilling’s famous bloody sock. But seeing that series of events unfold seems to make me forget about what happens, or maybe it’s because I know what happens and I know how the players and fans react. Either way, Fever Pitch includes enough to elicit that reaction.

Red Sox fan or not, or baseball fan or not, Fever Pitch still delivers a funny, entertaining story. The baseball really just serves as the backdrop for the relationship between Ben and Lindsay and is nothing more than a unique, and once in a lifetime opportunity, to make this film what it is. Jimmy Fallon, whom I’m not a big fan of and is a Yankee fan in real life (he was born and raised in New York, so it’s like a requirement), does what I think is a perfect job. The guy he plays is a kind and thoughtful man who cares deeply about Lindsay. When spring training starts though, there’s a whole other side that’s activated; that of a crazy fan who’s faced heartbreak and disappointment because of his personal life and his Sox life. What Fallon does so well in Fever Pitch is show how hard it is for him to go against something that’s been near and dear to him for twenty-three years even since his Uncle Carl (Lenny Clarke) took him to Fenway Park for the first time. Lindsay is kind and thoughtful in her own way and tries all she can to learn about the Sox so she can be closer to Ben. In what’s atypical of most films and other fictional media, the girl gives up more than the guy but as always, there’s a tipping point when one must come to a sudden realization to keep the whole relationship from falling apart. And this evolution from beginning to end, this visible and difficult change that both Ben and Lindsay go through, while somewhat traditional and like other stories, has many tiny differences that make it fresh and fun to watch.

What I would complain about is the inclusion of some unnecessary plot points such as the wealthy executive Steve (Zen Gesner) who’s interested in Lindsay and Al (Jack Kehler) who also serves as narrator for the movie. Steve just feels like he was thrown in to fit standard conventions of competition and alternative conflicts. The narration, while it got the job done, could have been done without – having Al’s character was fine, having him also be the narrator was a bit weird. Overall though there’s a lot to like about Fever Pitch. Going in I was expecting to like nothing more than seeing a Red Sox movie. Coming out of it, not only did I enjoy the baseball aspect more than I thought, but it was also a great romantic comedy as well.

THE RATING: 4 out of 5