Fever Pitch is an American-ized version of the Nick Hornby novel and subsequent British Film. American-ized usually means â€œwatered downâ€, and thereâ€™s no doubt a lot of the bite from the original source material is missing. But I am a big fan of the movies High Fidelity and About a Boy. Instead of soccer, the protagonistâ€™s obsession, in this Fever Pitch is baseball (in particular the Red Sox). This obsession gets in the way of having healthy relationships. I think the change of…sport still works; pitch is an apt baseball term. And the correlation between heartbreak in love and heartbreak in Red Sox fans is also relevant. But how is the movie?
Well, the movie is directed by the Farrelly Brothers. So thereâ€™s the typical physical and gross out humor one might expect from the fraternal duo. But this is a more, shall we say, â€œmatureâ€ work? The Farrellyâ€™s are really subdued here (sometimes bordering on tepid). Shallow Hal this ainâ€™t. But the material doesnâ€™t lend itself to their hi-jinks. Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore are the stars of this truthful romantic comedy. After the embarrassing Taxi, Fallon shows some range here. Barrymore also surprises with the degree of emotional truth in some scenes. The movie gains steam as it goes along, much like a baseball season, and the combination of smarts and schmaltz (from veteran writers Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel) did win me over in the end. And Iâ€™m a Red Sox fan.
In Dolby Digital 5.1, the mix is very front heavy. Itâ€™s a comedy. But the dialogue is clean and clear throughout. No complaints there. Environmental effects (like baseball atmosphere) also broaden the mix. The sound mix is strong and dependable, like a Curt Shilling fastball.
Fenway Park looks great. Thatâ€™s all that matters. But okayâ€¦other colors are adequate. Blacks are solid. Presented in 2.35:1, this widescreen transfer is clean of grain and digital artifacts. The flesh tones seem natural, and there are instances of edge enhancement. But at times, during the film, it looks like weâ€™re watching a TV movie. Thereâ€™s something quite odd about the visual look of the film, but I canâ€™t put my finger on it.
There is an audio commentary by the Farrelly Brothers that is, virtually, non-stop. An entertaining listen, as they touch on many related (and un-related) issues to the making of the film. There are 13 deleted scenes and a six minute gag reel (Ohâ€¦that hilarious gag reelâ€¦did Drew screw up her lines again??).
There are two internet featurettes. Iâ€™m not sure exactly what an internet featurette isâ€¦but they are two minutes long. One is called â€œBreak the Curseâ€ (about the Rex Sox and World Series) and the other is called â€œLove Triangleâ€ (focuses on the romantic aspects of the film). Another longer featurette is called â€œMaking a Sceneâ€. The production, literally, made a scene when it made a last minute decision to fly Fallon and Barrymore to the final game of the World Series. A little cinema verite for yâ€™all.
Rounding out the extras are a trailer for the film, an inside look at In Her Shoes with Cameron Diaz, and looks at other Fox films on DVD.
Those looking for a raucous baseball comedy might be disappointed. Fever Pitch is a leisurely paced look at relationships from the inside out. The odd smattering of Farrelly humor brings the movie out of its stateliness. But the â€œgood intentionsâ€ and heart of Fever Pitch makes this a worthwhile date movie. And guysâ€¦this is essential viewing for your girlfriendsâ€¦especially the ones that say â€œAre you watching sports again?â€. With good extras, good sound and picture, this is a three star movie with an extra half because the Sox finally won the Series. The Curse is over!
Special Features List
- Audio Commentary
- Deleted Scenes
- Gag Real
- Internet Featurettes
- Making a Scene
- An Inside Look
- More Fox Features