During the last decade, the Farrelly brothers have earned a well-deserved ranking among America’s best comedic filmmakers with their hilarious vulgarity and quirky characters.
Their latest, “Fever Pitch,” draws much less from the crude humor that put them on the map. Instead, it continues their latest trend, opting for more charming characters, happier endings and a smiling respect for human fallibility.
The film’s basis is a novel of the same title by Nick Hornby — also the pen behind “High Fidelity” and “About a Boy” — a writer who is quickly building a reputation as a film-friendly novelist.
Drew Barrymore and “Saturday Night Live” alumnus Jimmy Fallon play Ben and Lindsey, he a die-hard Boston Red Sox fan and she an overworked career gal, who fall in love in conventional romantic-comedy style. The only thing that keeps this formula selling to audiences over and over is whether or not the two lovebirds have any chemistry, and in this case Fallon and Barrymore surprise with childlike cuteness. Fallon was a perfect choice for the role of Ben, and although at times it seems all too obvious that he’s trying to act the part (he would have done better had he just played himself, for that is, after all, why he was cast for the part) he adds a carefree personality to a carefully written role.
In the most recent Farrelly flicks like “Stuck on You” and “Shallow Hal” the brothers take pride in the personality flaws and literal handicaps of their characters. While still blatantly laughing about touchy subjects like obesity or being a paraplegic, they always put the “freaks” center-stage as admirable invalids of the human heart.
The same goes for Ben as he suffers from a socially disastrous addiction to the Red Sox. Lindsey finds his passion magnetic at first, then comes to realize that he’d never put her first. Stuck in a his needs/her needs conflict, the chemistry between them wobbles a bit; but, of course, both realize their foolishness and embrace the childhood baseball fetish –- only less fatalistically.
This film is a far cry from becoming another cult classic on the level of the Farrellys’ “There’s Something About Mary.” Most of the scenes are not that memorable, and the direction isn’t even coherent all the time. But nevertheless, it has the same old Farrelly loveability that most other comedies are too bitter, or just plain stupid, to ever hope to emulate.
— By Dustin Allen
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