Fever Pitch

Release Date: April 8, 2005
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Movie of the Day for Tuesday, November 30, 2004
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Isn't that cute the way Manny just flipped us off?

On the Big Board
Position Staff In Brief
42/60 Les Winan Jimmy Fallon in an adaptation of a Nick Hornby book? What's he going to do next, steal my wife and rape my dog?
79/166 David Mumpower An atrocious ending mars an otherwise enjoyable exploration into the madness of sports fanaticism.

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In 1997, a marvelous little British film known as Fever Pitch hit theaters. Based on a novel by Nick Hornby (who also wrote such stuff as High Fidelity and About a Boy), this subdued love letter to soccer is an underrated gem. It centers around a man named Paul (Colin Firth) whose adoration for the Arsenal football team is ingrained at a young age. It stays with him into adulthood, even at the cost of his relationship with a fellow teacher (Ruth Gemmell). In time, of course, she comes to understand his obsession and he lets her be more of a part of that life. For anyone who has ever been an ardent fan of a sports team, it's a resonant and charming film. It might even be Firth's most engaging role (and as perhaps his third-biggest fan in the world, that means a lot coming from me).

Fast forward to the 21st century and naturally, the film is being remade with new stars and a new story. Since it's a U.S.-centric film, the sport, of course, will no longer be soccer. Instead, it's America's pastime - baseball, and the team is the perennially cursed Boston Red Sox. At one point, the potential stars are Drew Barrymore and John Cusack, whose performance in High Fidelity did indeed seem to make him a natural for another Hornby character.

Alas, that simply wasn't to be. Barrymore stays on as the love interest, but the baseball-obsessed fan (now named Ben rather than David) is to be played by the repugnant Jimmy Fallon. Sure, the guy has built a fan base from his days on Saturday Night Live, but there's still no denying that's a serious downgrade. And as both a fan of Hornby and the first film, I can't deny that Fallon's casting gives me serious pause as to the potential quality of the update. Making matters worse is the hiring of the Farrelly brothers as the film's directors. Their films are always funny (and even occasionally sweet), but they seem a dire misfit here.

All that said, 20th Century Fox was extremely clever to make the focus The Boston Red Sox. The team in question does need to have a bit of a reputation as frequent almost-rans, and they clearly fit the bill at the time that the movie's concept was moving forward. Since then, of course, the Sox spoiled the party a bit by winning the World Series; and thanks to cameras that caught Barrymore and Fallon in a lip-lock at the end of the game, a new ending was necessary as well.

Barrymore is always charming when she clicks with her co-stars, so here's hoping that she can draw the best qualities from Fallon - much like her character in the film does with his character. (Kim Hollis/BOP)

Vital statistics for Fever Pitch
Main Cast Jimmy Fallon, Drew Barrymore
Supporting Cast Kadee Strickland, Ione Skye
Director Peter Farrelly, Bobby Farrelly
Screenwriter Lowell Ganz, Babaloo Mandel
Distributor Twentieth Century Fox
Trailer Click Here for Trailer
Official Site http://www.feverpitchmovie.com/
Rating PG-13
Running Time 98 minutes
Screen Count 3,267
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture



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