Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Fever Pitch


This was the first feature at the drive in; the second was The Pacifier. What we got was a film-school double feature: How to write comedy, and how not to write comedy.

The only reason I can see why anyone would not love this movie is that they absolutely hate baseball. Sort of the way Lee reacted to Million-Dollar Baby. That’s cool, but if you like baseball even a little, this is one of the best romantic comedies we’ve seen in a while. If you love baseball, as we do, and if you love the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago Cubs, the only teams left in the game who play it the way it should be played, you’ll like it even more.

I’ve only been to Boston once in my life, spent only a few hours there, but I’m a Sox fan. You just have to love such a loser. Not that they’ve been awful in recent years, it’s the horrible way they have come so close, so many times, only to blow it in the final stretch. This movie had to undergo some rewrites at the last minute because … well, it was about a man who had given his life to rooting for the Sox, and it was happening in the 2004 season, so how are you going to end it? You have to end it with him being disappointed yet again, probably in the bottom half of the ninth, to the stinking Yankees. I mean who knew? You simply could not have written that the Sox would come back from three games down to the horrible Yankees in the playoffs … AND COME BACK TO WIN 4 IN A ROW! The biggest comeback (Sox) and the worst choke (goddam Yankees) in the history of baseball!

If it had just been about that, Fever Pitch would have been fun. But it’s a lot more. Jimmy Fallon is a lifelong Sox fanatic. His life revolves around the team, from spring training to the inevitable collapse in September. He falls in love with Drew Barrymore, who doesn’t even know what a foul ball is. An accommodation is reached, then troubles ensue, then true love finds a way. Standard stuff, but the way you make it work is with clever dialogue, good comic situations and, what so many directors and writers neglect, well-written and acted secondary characters. Fallon’s Red Sox “family,” the people around him in his season-ticket seats, are fun, and Drew’s friends are fun, and it all works just gloriously.

We just about died laughing when Fallon, depressed about the failure of his relationship, is discovered by his friends, hollow-eyed, unshaven, endlessly rewinding and watching the worst moment in Red Sox history: Bill Buckner letting an easy grounder to first bounce between his legs in a game that should have clinched a World Series win. It’s crisis intervention time! One guy brandishes the videotape and shouts “You got any more of these? Where’s your stash?” Hilarious!