Baseball’s on my mind as we draw closer to the World Series…though the Yanks are out of it for sure (gotta represent New York somehow). So, in the spirit of the season, I turn your attention to a sports movie that fanatics and clueless game-watchers alike will love.
Fever Pitch (2005) would immediately be classified as a romance, but baseball fans should not stay away. Ben Wrightman (the incredibly multitalented Jimmy Fallon), a schoolteacher, has only ever loved one thing—baseball. Specifically, the Red Sox (I know, I know, how can I cover a movie about the Red Sox being from NY? Well I’m doing it, so there). That is until he meets Lindsey Meeks (Drew Barrymore). They meet during the offseason, so his undying love for baseball and her dedication to work aren’t a problem. Neither is the fact that Lindsey knows nothing about the sport. But as baseball season hypes up, the Sox start a crazy winning streak (the streak that will eventually break the Curse of the Bambino) and Lindsey starts working towards a promotion. She’s sure that Ben’s love for her is stronger than his love for Fenway and all that happens inside, but when he turns down a trip to Paris that will seal the deal for Lindsey, things start to go downhill. But now that Ben knows what it’s like to have a void filled by something other than his team, will he be willing to let Lindsey go so easily? And will Lindsey see that Ben’s passion extends far beyond the baseball diamond? You’ll have to watch to find out.
So what’s to like about this movie? It’s true that there isn’t anything spectacular about it cinematically speaking. The acting is good, the dialogue isn’t the worst I’ve heard, nothing revolutionary in the cinematography department. But there’s something nice about a movie that can appeal to both sports fans and people who don’t know the first thing about baseball and just want a feel-good movie. Sometimes we need to watch those. Movies are primarily sources of entertainment, and if they’re really good, they can be cognitively and intellectually stimulating as well. Well this one’s kind of a just -for-fun one, but if you are from Boston or New York and were looking for an interesting way to learn about the greatest baseball feud that will ever live, this would be a good way to do it. Even having lived through the curse being broken in real life, I found the movie equally as exciting to watch. I learned a little bit more about baseball and the curse, and I could empathize with the 86-year devotion of Red Sox fans, and joined in their excitement at every pitch and hit.
While the ending is bit cliché (how many times can we watch someone scarcely avoid security as they run across a baseball field? Anger Management anyone?), it’s plausible and doesn’t leave you hating one character over the other. Fever Pitch is a nice watch for a cool fall evening fresh off a team loss or win as it becomes a movie about learning what you love and when you are and aren’t willing to compromise your passions. And it’s about finding someone who will do the same.