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'Fever Pitch' falls a bit outside the park

photo courtesy of 20TH CENTURY FOX
"Fever Pitch" - Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore star in this romantic comedy about how to maintain a relationship with the Boston Red Sox while consistently getting laid.
By Nate Buchik
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, April 14, 2005
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Movie Rating: 5 / 10

Baseball movies are usually great for baseball fans and torture for girlfriends. Romantic comedies are usually great for girlfriends and torture for baseball fans.

So combining romance, comedy and baseball might seem like a great idea. Nope.

Jimmy Fallon, in a role made for Adam Sandler, stars as Ben, an avid Boston Red Sox fan who hasn't been able to handle both a relationship and his obsession with the Sox. Enter Lindsey (Drew Barrymore), a workaholic who can't find a man good enough for her.

They meet in the winter. They fall in love since Lindsey has not felt the wrath of summer, with its 81 home games at Fenway Park.

At first, Lindsey is able to join Ben at games and learn to enjoy baseball. But as it gets close to playoff time, Lindsey falls behind on work and Ben turns into psycho fan.

They break up, as they always do with about 30 minutes left in a romantic comedy. And the audience is left to wonder some really tough questions.

Will the Red Sox win the World Series? Will Ben and Lindsey see that they can work out their differences? Will Ben ever tell Lindsey about his genital herpes?

Who cares? Most likely, no one.

Halfway through the movie, everything interesting there was to say about being a fan, every joke and nuance, was used up. When the Farrelly brothers ("Dumb and Dumber," "There's Something About Mary") run out of laughs, they have to fall back on a relationship that is tough to take seriously.

They force the required breakup, with both Ben and Lindsey acting extremely out of character, and try to piece together a romantic ending.

There are numerous amusing parts in the movie, like when Ben makes an appearance on "Sportscenter" wildly predicting a Red Sox championship, but there aren't any big laughs. Because this is the Farrelly Brothers on valium, never taking any comedic chances, and then trying to get laughs from the token "weird friend who starts to say things that seem to imply he is gay."

Fallon shows that he can hold a movie, with this far surpassing his turn in the dud that was "Taxi." And Drew Barrymore, once again, is cute and average - a safe choice for any romantic comedy.

Adapted from a Nick Hornby ("High Fidelity") novel about a soccer fan, the only interesting thing about the film is how it is able to capture the spirit of a true fan. Ben lives and dies Red Sox, as do many people across the world do with the teams they love. When Ben and his friends get together to share tickets or take a trip to spring training, fans can see themselves onscreen.

And the problems he has to deal with in his relationship with Lindsey are problems that fans may have to deal with, too.

However, the Farrelly Brothers never find the right mix of romance, comedy and baseball - and, unfortunately, err on the side of romance.

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