Pros: Drew Barrymore, Red Sox, Nick Hornsby. Cons: Jimmy Fallon. So that was a pretty easy call. Alas, Fallon did not rise to the honorable occasion of working on a Red Sox movie. Thus, I got about what I expected out of Fever Pitch — a light, airy romantic comedy with some Red Sox bits that made me mist up.
It’s got most of the spirit of being a Boston fan about right. There’s a Boston Dirt Dogs T-shirt, they knew it was important to make a big deal about Ted Williams at the 1999 All Star Game, and so on. There’s a jarring scene where Fallon’s “summer family” of season ticket holders get all anxious about the Curse of the Bambino, though, which pissed me off something fierce. The Curse is a mythical publicity tool that mostly sells Dan Shaughnessy books. Perpetuating it at this stage of the game is hackneyed and lazy.
That didn’t stop me from getting all choked up at the important moments. We can pretend that I was more interested in how Drew Barrymore and Jimmy Fallon were going to get back together than I was in reliving the 2004 ALCS, if we like. Certainly Barrymore was great — she’s had a really good string of romantic comedies going and she doesn’t misfire in this one. Fallon, not so much. There’s something oddly reptilian about him, which rested uneasily beneath the surface of the innocent character he’s playing. He seemed most at ease in the scene where he makes his friends dance for the privilege of attending Red Sox/Yankees games with him, which is also one of the least flattering scenes for his character.
Never mind. I liked it enough to be happy I’ve seen it, which I attribute about 40% to my fondness for the Red Sox, 30% to the Nick Hornsby source material, and 30% to Drew Barrymore. I got a kick out of seeing it about three blocks from Fenway Park itself. Some of the audience cheered “Let’s go, Red Sox” right along with the screen, and for once people talking in the middle of a movie was charming.
It’s interesting that two Nick Hornsby books have translated pretty seamlessly to an American context.
He’s clearly got the knack of writing an universally applicable story which can eaily be recontextualised to give a different audience a tale that feels closer to them.
Yes, he definitely has a handle on the essentials about relationships. I don’t know how much of the executive/schoolteacher material came from the original book of essays, but the class consciousness rung true for me. (The Farrellys probably get some credit for that too. People sneer at them, but they have a good handle on class issues, particularly when it comes to New England society.)