Fever Pitch
Directed by Bobby and Peter Farrelly

Written by Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel from the novel by Nick Hornby

Starring Drew Barrymore, Jimmy Fallon


Fever Pitch

If you're going to have a good time watching "Fever Pitch" you need three things: First, you have to love baseball; I do. Second, you have to love the Red Sox. Here it's a little sticky; I'm a Mariners fan but I love the Red Sox for having beaten the evil Yankees last year, so we'll count that. And third, you have to love Drew Barrymore, which I certainly do; she and Cameron Diaz are the most adorable actresses working in films today.

So having hit three for three I feel competent to review "Fever Pitch." Jimmy Fallon is Ben. He teaches high school math in Boston and he has been besotted with the Red Sox ever since his uncle took him to his first game at Fenway Park. In fact when his uncle died he left him his season tickets behind the Sox' dugout. If we visit Ben's apartment we'll find that he has everything from a replica of the Green Monster in his living room to a baseball glove telephone, plus a wardrobe that consists of nothing but Sox clothes. Get it? Got it. Good.

On the other hand, Drew Barrymore is Lindsey Meeks, hotshot business executive on a fast track up the corporate ladder and ignorant, to put it mildly, about baseball. One day Ben brings his math students to Lindsey's office on a field trip. He asks her out, she accepts, their date is a disaster when she eats bad food and throws up all over. But he is a lovely man and cleans it up, puts her to bed and then sleeps on the couch. Is this a love affair made in heaven? Not quite; as Roger Ebert puts it, she is from Venus and he is from Fenway Park.

But they find a way to make it work, for a while, and in fact the film avoids most of the clichés of the genre, giving them a believable relationship. The film originated with a Nick Hornby novel ("About a Boy," "High Fidelity") about a couple trying to deal with his love of soccer, and the film script was written by the team of Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel ("Parenthood," "City Slickers," "Mr. Saturday Night"). It was directed by the Farrelly brothers ("Dumb and Dumber," "There's Something About Mary" and "Kingpin," though this is closer to Bobby Farrelly's more textured screenplay for "Outside Providence.").

When shooting began on "Fever Pitch," of course, no one knew how the Sox would do last year, and plans were made to end it with another disappointment in the tradition of the 86-year-long Curse of the Bambino. And then - along came the miracle, and a new ending was improvised as the Sox won the World Series. Sometimes justice does triumph. I think what I'm saying here is that "Fever Pitch," while not perfect, is still delicious. It avoids the trap of predictability by making its stars into human beings and giving them some room for nuance; it refuses to pander to the obvious fairy tale of the miracle year; and it has the kind of wit the comes out of its characters' personality instead of a writer's jokebook. Take a date; you won't be sorry.