Fever Pitch (2005)
Directed by Peter and Bobby Farrely
“If you love me enough to sell your tickets, I love you enough not to let you.” So tender is the theme for the 2005 romantic comedy Fever Pitch, that any idealistic baseball fan will watch it over and over again. Starring Jimmy Fallon as school teacher and Boston Red Sox super fan Ben Wrightman and Drew Barrymore as his new girlfriend Lindsey Meeks, and set in Boston on the eve of the Red Sox historic World Series championship, Fever Pitch is about one fan’s alteration of loves.
The film begins in 1980, with young Ben beginning his lifelong love of the Red Sox when his uncle took him to his first game. The scene accurately portrays a fan’s love of the game. Little did Ben know, however, that he had chosen such a disappointing team to root for. As his uncle warns the adolescent aficionado, “Careful kid…they’ll break your heart.” Fast forward twenty years and Ben is a math teacher in Boston, taking a group of students to a see a businesswoman, Lindsey, in order for her to show them about her job using math. After a bit of coercing by his pupils, Ben asks Lindsey if she would be interested in a date. After a humorous first “date” which consisted of Ben caring for an ill Lindsey, the audience can see their chemistry. However, Lindsey’s friends are skeptical. They display doubts about why Ben is still single at 30. KaDee Strickland and Ione Skye shine as Barrymore’s friends, but they don’t shine too brightly as to take away from Barrymore’s stardom. However, they do find some solace when they find out Ben is a school teacher—“teaching is a cool thing,” says Lindsey’s friend Robin. When Lindsey finds out about Ben’s baseball obsession in the winter, she is alright with it, but when “Summer Ben” takes over—when he is interviewed on ESPN, his most important things are “The Red Sox, sex, and breathing,” in that order—she becomes frustrated with always being put behind his beloved team. Frustration leads to breakup, and everything falls apart for Ben when the Red Sox lose three in a row and lose the division to the dreaded Yankees. No need to be worried though, these lovers wouldn’t let baseball get in the way of a future (which may include a little baseball fan).
One thing that I loved about the movie was the way the background music wonderfully complemented the movies events. Filled with songs from largely unknown artists, the movie included songs from Dropkick Murphys, Tears for Fears, and the J. Geils Band. In one scene, showing the couple’s thriving relationship, “Sweet Caroline,” the Red Sox fan’s favorite song (it is played before the bottom of the 8th inning at every Sox home game) is played. When the lyrics came to the “Bum bum bum” and “So good,” Ben, Lindsey, and the whole crowd at a Red Sox game joined in. At the very end, the lyrics “it’s not over” that are shouted in one song holds great meaning for Ben and Lindsey’s relationship and the future of the Red Sox in the playoffs.
Another important element of the movie is its accuracy. Being a baseball fan myself, the excitement portrayed at the stadium actually got me jumpy on my couch. The popular movie site IMDb points out that when Ben goes to Fenway Park in 1980, the bleachers over the Green Monster are not there, but when the movie jumps to 2004 they were (they were added in 2003). Attention to detail like this heightens the movie-watching experience by making it seemingly flawless in its realism.
Lastly, the acting and casting was fantastic. Fallon and Barrymore play their careers perfectly, and they play even better as a couple. As mentioned before, Lindsey’s friends shine just enough to harmonize with Barrymore. Fallon’s friends embrace their Sox obsession superbly, it is not hard to believe they love their team—in one scene, Ben’s friends have an impromptu dance-off for Red Sox-Yankees tickets.
As far as romantic comedy/baseball movies go, this ranks alone at the top. Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore are comedy gold, and their on-screen relationship is as believable as any I have seen. This movie blends absolute baseball accuracy with a cute and tender relationship comedy. This movie is an excellent choice for anyone, regardless of age or gender. Background music, casting, acting, and directing are pristine. I would highly suggest this movie to anyone.