I don't have many opinions on Jimmy Fallon, so let's just say I wasn't deeply saddened when he left the dwindling cast of Saturday Night Live for a career in movies; a path on which many Saturday Night Live alumni have taken only to find disappointing results. Fallon was in this year's "Taxi" (unseen by me and a good thing from what I hear) and is still looking for a place in Hollywood to plant his feet and become established.
In "Fever Pitch" Fallon plays Ben, a school teacher and diehard Boston Red Sox fan who can't seem to stay in relationships very long, because apparently all of the women he's met in the city of Boston have never seen a diehard Red Sox fan before. To be fair, traveling to Florida to see all of the spring training games is a little extreme but that's what these people do.
His latest interest is a successful businesswoman named Lindsay Meeks (I don't think you could come up with a more cute and innocent name) who meets him when he takes a few of his students to her office for a tour of some kind where they can learn about "the real world."
She eventually takes a liking to him and agrees to go out on a few dates because by gosh he's such a likable guy. One of her friends figures that he must have a closet full of skeletons because -- I guess -- a guy like Jimmy Fallon must have something wrong with him to be single and not married.
For much needed comic relief, Lindsay is often found spending time with those friends, a small peanut gallery of Sex and the City-like gossipers, cheerfully giving her advice about men and how to handle Ben. Too bad these chicks aren't very funny, save for the one scene when the token fat friend calls an aerobics instructor a fitness Nazi. But even that's a stretch.
As the story progresses it turns out that Ben is much more of fan than Lindsay can be comfortable with. It's fine that he goes to as many of the home games as possible, but surely he can miss one or two to come out with her to me the parents or join her for a venture in Europe where she plans to make a career advancement. Fat chance.
As we expect, the relationship takes a turn for the worse and the two will have to mature in time to realize they are perfect together and things like baseball and careers shouldn't come between potential life mates.
There was a funny part in the movie, but it was actually left out of the final cut and can only be seen in the trailers, when the two are at a bar and Lindsay tells Ben that "itís just a game," to the shock of every patron donned in red jerseys and baseball caps. Maybe a movie that focused more on the diehard fans as a collective city would have been more entertaining than the focus on Ben and Lindsay Meeks.
Moreover, the trailer plays out like the film is a study on character development, but there's nothing interesting about the people in the movie. At one point there's a slight hint that Ben might be psychologically explored when he's seen telling a high school student to put out a cigarette -- that it's offensive to be treated as someone who's more of a cool uncle than a professional teacher. He's loved by all the students so it's no surprise that a few would feel safe smoking in his presence. But it ends there. Ben remains an "adult child" aside from what he does during the implausible conclusion.
For the most part, the problems with the movie have more to do with the plot concept than the actors forced to do something with it. Fallon is dreadfully dull trying to pull off sarcastic humor at every turn, and Barrymore is just doing her usual nice girl routine, being that she's a veteran of this type of film. The plot is always the same with a few major differences and of course the leading man is always different. Her pairing with Ben Stiller in 2003's "Duplex" was a major farce, but I liked her and Adam Sandler in last year's "50 First Dates." "Fever Pitch" is somewhere in the middle of the two but closer to the former.
Guys, considered yourself warned: this is not a baseball movie. This is not a movie you can look forward to bringing your girlfriend to because it's about baseball and that you'll earn double points for taking her to something that isn't about action, violence, blood and sex. You know, something good. Because "Fever Pitch" isn't good. It's a typical one dimensional story about a guy and a girl who fall in love, only to break up near the end just so they can get back together before the final credits.
I can't say I was too surprised to find out that baseball factors little into the plodding story, and when it does focus on the sport, the highlight clips from the actual 2004 season look out of place and aren't very invigorating considering the unbelievable turn of good luck the city of Boston experienced. If you aren't familiar with last year's playoffs (the film fails at explaining it well), the Red Sox survived the American League Championship series having to come back down three games to the Yankees. That the movie couldn't incorporate that into the story proves it was made for chicks but marketed as something that guys would eagerly take them to.
I have to say it's hard to dismiss the Farrelly brothers as inept filmmakers because they were so successful earlier on in their careers with "Dumb and Dumber" and "There's Something About Mary." But lately they've produced nothing but duds to go along with the occasional slightly cute production such as "Fever Pitch."
The Internet Movie Database reports that the Farrelly brothers are working on "The Three Stooges" for a 2007 release. It's amazing that these guys keep finding work. "Fever Pitch" isn't a good movie; it doesn't come close, and I'm not just saying that because I'm a Yankees fan.