Sunday, January 11, 2009

Fever Pitch

Like "That Thing You Do," another one of those movies that I just have to watch whenever I see that it's on is Fever Pitch. The Farrelly brothers' romantic comedy is set in 2004 during the Red Sox's historic baseball season in which they won their first World Series championship since 1918. Jimmy Fallon plays 9th grade math teacher Ben Wrightman, who meets Lindsey Meeks (Drew Barrymore), an up-and-coming mathematician, while showing his students what kind of living one can make with applied mathematics. He finds himself attracted to Lindsey, and asks her out. On their first date when he shows up at her apartment, Lindsey is suffering from food poisoning and vomiting. He takes it upon himself to not only look after her but to clean her bathroom, which in my opinion, nominates him for sainthood.

Things progress normally between the two until one day, baseball season starts. You see, Ben is a Red Sox fan. And when I use the word "fan," I mean it in its original sense: fanatic. Everything in his apartment relates to the Red Sox, including a wall decoration which is a replica of the Green Monster (the left field fence in Fenway Park), that is complete to the degree that the hand-operated scoreboard is set to a specific game. Lindsey is a little taken aback by the degree of Ben's enthusiasm, and the tension begins.

As the relationship deepens, Ben and Lindsey agree that while he dives in headfirst into his obsession, she will focus on her job and getting the big promotion she wants. If only it were that easy!

There are so many things that I love about this movie. It captures the spirit of baseball, the tradition, the superstition, the beauty of the game, and yes, the math. Ben explains the game and his team to Lindsey, and I wish I could be as eloquent as he is, bringing home the majesty of a great pastime to a relative n00b.

Like a typical Farrelly brothers movie, not only is it funny, but it's sweet as well. The emotional depths of the characters is well-written, and the way the two characters reflect on their relationship with their friends seems very authentic. Lindsey talks about everything with hers, and Ben doesn't. Well, with the exception of a rhetorical rant in front of one of his students. Yep, he's a man, all right!
The eventual heartbreak that comes seems very, very real. How it is presented and how they deal with the resolution seems right on the money.

The only thing I would change about this movie is that I would make it longer. When I watch the DVD, I always begin with the deleted scenes and watch scenes 1-13, which extends scenes dealing with Ben's childhood. Then I start the movie with the actual scene 3, which begins the part where Ben is grown up. The fleshed-out "young Ben" scenes do a lot to explain the importance of some of the things in his apartment, where if you don't watch them, they just seem like random memorabilia. But the meaning these deleted scenes give the items, deepens Ben's character appreciably. It's a shame they weren't included in the original release.

No comments: