Fever Pitch, the Farrelly brother's latest romantic comedy about an unlikely romance between a Boston Red Sox fan and a career-minded executive, is crap.
Look, despite not being much of an athlete (I took dead last in the region my senior year in the 110m hurdles. Dead last.), I'm a sucker for sports movies. The great ones -- Hoosiers, Bull Durham, the Natural, and on and on -- I can't pass them up. If I happen to click onto one of them when flipping through my 100 or so satellite channels, I have to stop and watch them 'til the end, no matter what I'm doing, or what other spectacular events may be lurking further down the dial. I dig on the grittier stuff, too -- Any Given Sunday, Basketball Diaries, He Got Game -- movies that maybe don't show sport in the best of light. Even movies like Rudy or Remember the Titans, in all their manipulative, cheesy glory, stop me in my tracks.
But even my inherent prejudice toward sports movies could not make me like Fever Pitch. The Farrelly brothers really screwed the pooch on this one. From the first moment of the movie, with the generally very likable Jimmy Fallon's awkward, half-committed (unless he's making a jackass of himself, which is the only time on-screen when he's all-in) uncomfortable on-screen presence, to Barrymore's utterly unbelievable high-powered, workaholic corporate math whiz (seriously, Barrymore is great at some roles -- see 50 First Dates -- but she is simply not up to this), to bizarrely sterile editing to horrible, just abjectly horrible, dialogue, especially for the women, this movie is an utter mess. There are occasional funny moments (like the hilarious shower/shaving scene, or the draft dance or the 10th-grader as psychiatrist bit), but they are few and far between. There are almost no real, touching moments in the movie -- those which do come close are inevitably ruined by Fallon's inability to commit or awkward editing or just simple outrageously bad dialogue.
The structure, the bones of this film, are solid. Paralleling the rocky path of a romantic relationship with the Red Sox's rocky path to their first World Series victory in a century or so seems (and is, I think) a great, solid structure on which to hang what might be a touching, or at least very entertaining, movie. Somehow, though, between awful writing and poor casting and bad direction and editing, the brilliant team who brought us the grossly hilarious Dumb and Dumber and the sweet and silly Stuck on You have created the perfect storm of awfulness. Somehow, the simple humanness which makes the Farrelly brothers' other work so great seems to have been left out of this movie, and it is sorely missed. I'm not certain how this could have happened, and I'm even less certain how so many media outlets (Entertainment Weekly chief among them) could give Fever Pitch such a glowing review.
I know, I know -- this move does have a sweetness at its core, and there are many places in the film when you can tell it desperately wants to be a genuinely sincere, touching romantic comedy. But all the good intentions in the world cannot make me see Fever Pitch for anything other than what it is -- a kindhearted but complete failure.