Fever Pitch

Spring is the time of year when past failures of the fall are forgotten by most baseball fans. While hope springs eternal every spring for most fans, Boston Red Sox fans have long had a love/hate relationship with their team. This is due in large part to the Red Sox’s ongoing and often bizarre ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory for year after year, decade after decade, causing fans to claim that the team has been cursed ever since they traded Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees back in 1918. They have failed to win a championship since.

That is, until the magical season of 2005 where lifetimes of tears and frustrations were cleansed by an improbable and historic comeback from a three games to none series deficit to the Yankees, and a four game sweep of the St Louis Cardinals in the World Series.

In the new romantic comedy Fever Pitch two worlds are about to collide in a fury of romance and humor when workaholic Lindsey Meeks (Drew Barrymore), meets and starts to date a school teacher named Ben (Jimmy Fallon). Though their first date is hampered by a bad virus, Lindsey is taken by Ben’s gentle and compassionate nature, finding him very kind, loving and attentive.

As the two become closer over the winter, Ben asks Lindsey to attend opening day at Fenway with him as a sign of his love and commitment to her. Knowing Ben’s passion for the game, Lindsey accepts but soon finds out, that Ben is fanatical about his love of the Sox and that every aspect of his life has to be scheduled around their

games. While this is at first a minor issue, as time goes on it becomes a bigger problem when Ben refuses to take trips or attend parties and functions that interfere with games.

Naturally this soon wears very thin for Lindsey as she begins to question how committed Ben is to her and their future. The humor in the film arises from watching the very kind and lovable Ben become a different person when he is watching his beloved Sox. Rather then painting Ben as an oddball, the story does show why he has such an extreme devotion to the team, as well as how the people around him react to his devotion. His male friends simply accept it as they are rabid fans themselves, while we learn that every woman in his past has had an issue with his love of the Sox.

What really makes the film shine is the solid work by the two leads. Barrymore has a charm and grace to her that lets Lindsey come off as a very lovable and compassionate lady, rather than a selfish shrew who craves attention. Fallon meanwhile is solid, showing the duality of his life, as well as the dilemma he has between wanting to be with Lindsey and his lifelong devotion to the Sox.

The film moves at a steady pace and has more than enough humor to make you leave the theater with a smile, even if you are not a baseball fan. While some may say the plot is a bit shallow and formulistic, the film wisely puts the attention on the two leads and not on the sports action which results in a very winning combo.

3.5 stars out of 5