Friday Flicks: Fever Pitch

Spring Training has started and the offseason is finally over! But if you’re stuck in the wintery north while the boys are basking in the sun, you might want a little help easing back into that much sunshine. I’ll help you transition your baseball viewing by continuing the baseball movie reviews through spring training. Check out “Friday Flicks” at lunchtime.

A baseball poem turned into a Disney cartoon was the review last week. This week, we take on a movie that remakes a British soccer film with the same title.

The baseball version of Fever Pitch (2005) stars Drew Barrymore and Jimmy Fallon. The soccer version stars Colin Firth…and some girl I don’t remember. What can I say? When I first watched the original soccer film, it was during my quest to watch every movie Colin Firth made. I’m up front about my other obsession, Jane Austen, in my bio. If “Colin Firth” and “Jane Austen” don’t mean anything to you, then smile, nod and know that I learned the Brits can make a great sports flick when they want to.

Needless to say, I was skeptical about an American remake, especially one that stars Barrymore and Fallon. I expected stiff acting, punny lines and mediocrity. In the end, it was actually pretty enjoyable.

Fever Pitch is about Ben (Fallon) and Lindsey (Barrymore), two people who couldn’t be more opposite. Ben is a math teacher who is obsessed with the Boston Red Sox, holding coveted season tickets. Lindsey is a successful, ladder-climbing business woman who is obsessed with her job, a single gal getting bad dating advice from her friends. The two meet during the offseason and their relationship starts out pretty well, against the odds. As baseball season approaches, and the level of Ben’s obsession becomes apparent the two try to navigate the ups and downs of what it means to date a baseball fanatic.

The scenes at Fenway when Ben interacts with the other season ticket holders are some of the best baseball scenes in the film. From the curse of The Bambino to explaining the game to a novice, or understanding the family and how year after year one can hope in a team that always lets you down, baseball fans – Minnesota Twins fans – get it. And the brief scene when David Ortiz hits a game winner makes a Twins fan pine for Big Papi. Although the flick starts out iffy, by the end, you’re hoping Ben and Lindsey someday have a future Red Sox player of their own.

Is it a hit? I give it a double plus a stolen third. I could tell it was going to be a double from the beginning. Despite the stiff acting for the first part of the film, there were enough clever lines and some spot-on baseball fanaticism that I was going to make it through the film enjoying myself. However, and I’ll phrase this cryptically to avoid any spoilers, when Paris came into the picture, it seemed like the acting, the story, and the baseball finally made the jump from the minors to the majors.

Come back next week for a John Goodman film about The Great Bambino.

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