In 2004, the Boston Red Sox managed to shake the stigma of the “curse of the Bambino” and win the World Series for the first time in 86 years. This was good for everyone but two distinct groups: Yankees fans, and Peter and Bobby Farrelly. Seeing as how the Red Sox were no longer professional sports’ most-losing franchise, they were forced to add several scenes to their half-baseball, half-chick-flick “Fever Pitch.”
“Fever Pitch” is very loosely based on the Nick Hornby book of the same name, only instead of soccer and the Arsenal, the plot revolves around baseball and the Red Sox. Lindsay, played by Drew Barrymore, spends her time figuring out mathematical solutions to benefit airline companies. When schoolteacher Ben, played by Jimmy Fallon, brings his class to see “math in action,” he falls for Lindsay. They date and fall very much in love in the traditional, sappy, “this makes me so happy I want to puke,” Hollywood sort of way. But there’s a catch! This is “winter Ben,” but from April to October, Ben is hopelessly rooting for the Red Sox. Lindsay, meanwhile, could care less about baseball and is gunning for a promotion at the office.
The Farrelly brothers, better known for cum-in-hair jokes, a la “There’s Something About Mary,” attempt to move more into romance rather than gross-out comedy but never quite get there. Barrymore, who oozed cuteness in “The Wedding Singer,” comes off more as a shrill corporate lackey here, and it’s hard to sympathize. Fallon plays the same “dumb but cute” role here that he did on SNL, and he’s unlikely to win any converts. However, the worst scenes involve Barrymore and her 30-something friends talking about romance. While watching the screen, I noticed my hands clenching ever tighter into fists of pure rage. Fallon and his “baseball guy friends” aren’t much more entertaining.
The movie’s concept — part chick flick, part sports movie — is interesting and one that rich movie executives probably drooled over. However, the film is stuck at being a good idea and doesn’t move further. Having the Red Sox win in October probably didn’t help matters any. Think of the potential tagline — “The Red Sox Lose — but Love Always Prevails!” Barrymore’s obsession with a man obsessed with a losing team would have been interesting, but instead it’s just another generic romantic comedy.