Rated: PG-13 Reviewed by: Frank Release date: April 8, 2005 Released by: Twentieth Century Fox
It couldn’t be better, baseball and romance in the Spring. Fever Pitch is one of those delightful enjoyable romantic comedies which was designed to occur on the tapestry of the Boston Red Sox continuing to lose their opportunity to be World Champions. Early on Uncle Carl (Lenny Clarke) tells Jimmy Fallon’s Ben “Watch it kid they will break your heart.”
But Ben is hooked from the beginning, the first time he walks up the ramp from under the stands and sees the green monster, green grass and the Red Sox ready to do battle, he can never let it go. I know just how he feels. I made that walk with my father in 1948 and I remember it clearly. He’s obsessed, and when Uncle Carl passes on he inherits two great season box seat tickets close to the Red Sox dugout.
Twenty plus years later he teaches school and his passion for The Sox hasn’t diminished. Even when he meets Lindsey (Drew Barrymore) who admits she is 20/10. His first request for a date with her is turned down, but she does agree to a first date when her friends suggest opposites might attract, and her driven business style might just work with this funny easy going guy. On the first date he arrives at her apartment and finds her sick and losing her last meal. After putting her in a clean nightgown he scrubs the mess from the bathroom and spends the night on her couch. Later he says, anything I would say about you would be understated. If that doesn’t work nothing will.
Romance blooms until his package of season tickets arrive. Then her friend’s husbands are impressed with Ben as he relays what it was like to see Ted Williams at the last All Star Game at Fenway Park. At that point we see that his wall is painted like the Green Monster, he has a 1918 World Champion T-shirt and Yankee toilet paper. She shares some games but The Sox get in the way of what was a great courtship. He makes a fool of himself on TV when interviewed he claims the most important things in life are: Red Sox, sex and breathing while Doug Meeks (James B. Sikking), her father, is watching.
It somewhat parallels the 1949 It Happens Every Spring, with Ray Milland and Jean Peters. College professor Milland loses concentration in the Spring when the Saint Louis Cardinals begin to play baseball. Milland however finds a way to help the Cardinals win the World Series. It even reminds us of Spencer Tracy teaching Catherine Hepburn the rules of baseball in Woman of the Year (1942). There’s also a 1997 soccer fan film with the same name and same premise.
We get to see much of the 2004 playoffs and World Series because the directing Farrelly brothers had permission to film during those events. But the romance is paramount, especially when they attend a 20ies style dance - it even works when they are hurt. Barrymore is very convincing in this kind of role, this may be her best. It’s that way particularly as she crosses Fenway Park frantically yelling “Ben Ben” (sounds like The Graduate), when she decides that his season tickets need not be sacrificed to prove his love. It’s then we see the inspiring romantic attraction right on the field of dreams.