The punning title may try to disguise it, but this is actually the American version of Nick Hornby’s ‘Fever Pitch’, with the football-mad central character now a devotee of the Boston Red Sox baseball team. They had to wait 86 years for their 2004 World Series victory, which would surely make even Arsenal fans wince. Charged with transferring Hornby’s deft North London specifics to New England, A-list Hollywood screenwriting team Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel (‘Splash’, ‘City Slickers’) have kept Sox maniac Jimmy Fallon as a high-school teacher, but changed his love interest to Drew Barrymore’s high-powered, workaholic business exec, who meets him during the team’s winter downtime, thinks he’s adorable, and is thus unprepared to be displaced in his affections by his summer season ticket for Fenway Park. While the original explored the notion of sporting obsession as a refuge from life (for good and ill), here it’s as much a plot point as a passion, since his ‘n’ hers opposing values are played largely for conventional romantic comedy. It’s slickly done, pleasantly watchable, but despite Barrymore’s ever-charming earnestness, not quite a home run. Although there’s a characteristic note of class tension, and we get to see the funny side of food poisoning and concussion, the Farrellys seem on their best behaviour, as if slightly hamstrung by the challenge of working in the classic Hollywood mould. Then again, perhaps they really needed John Cusack, since ‘Saturday Night Live’ alumnus Fallon is far too lightweight a lead; moderately amusing as a man-child fan-boy dressed from the Red Sox gift-shop, but an unpersuasive potential partner for go-getting Drew.
|Release date:||Friday August 12 2005|
Cast and crew
|Director:||Peter Farrelly, Bobby Farrelly|
|Screenwriter:||Lowell Ganz, Babaloo Mandel|