(Originally published in Rocky Mountain Bullhorn)
Even considering the insufferable self-absorption of Boston baseball fans, Bobby and Peter Farrelly’s Red Sox-obsessed Fever Pitch proves an amusing and affecting ode to professional sports fandom. Ben Wrightman (Jimmy Fallon) is a math teacher who falls for high-powered corporate exec Lindsey Meeks (Drew Barrymore), and their courtship proceeds smoothly until Ben reveals his deep, dark secret: he’s an insane Sox devotee. His apartment walls adorned with murals of Fenway Park and his wardrobe mainly consisting of Sox t-shirts and jerseys, Ben’s interest in the team has long since become an addiction, and the Farrelly’s sentimental comedy charts their romantic tug-of-war as Meeks – a rookie when it comes to following balls and strikes – attempts to deal with her lover’s extreme passion for the national pastime.
Though uncharacteristically working from a script they didn’t write (this loose adaptation of Nick Hornby’s novel is by Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel), the Farrelly’s imbue their latest with the same unabashed warmth and sweetness that typified Shallow Hal and Stuck on You while simultaneously dispensing with their once-trademark gross-out gags. The filmmakers’ palpable affection for their characters – as well as the captivating lead performances from an enchanting Barrymore and the surprisingly charming Fallon – helps to compensate for their often-clunky direction. Yet Fever Pitch’s home run swing is the Farrelly’s astute depiction of the camaraderie, kinship and sense of escape that comes from enthusiastically following one’s favorite team – even if it is those unbearable World Series champion Red Sox.