Written by: Lowell Ganz & Babaloo Mandel
Starring: Drew Barrymore, Jimmy Fallon, James Sikking, JoBeth Williams, Jason Spevack
Life is a game of managing priorities. There’s only so much time in our lives and it’s up to us to decide how much we dedicate to each aspect. This has its own challenges when living life on your own, but gets doubly difficult when sharing it with another. This serves as the central idea with ultimately silly circumstances of the romantic-comedy, Fever Pitch, which takes priorities and puts it to quite a slight extreme.
Since moving to Boston as a young boy, Ben Wrightman (Jimmy Fallon) only found community in watching the local baseball team, the Red Sox. With his uncle taking him to the games and now inheriting the coveted tickets left behind, he lives and breathes everything about the Red Sox. Now in a relationship with the career-driven Lindsey Meeks (Drew Barrymore), Ben needs to make important decisions about what he is willing to sacrifice to live a fulfilling life.
While Ben’s struggle appears to be a bit ridiculous in the grand scheme of things, I once was as much of a sports obsessive as him. Growing up as a Yankees fan and of other New York sports teams, I allowed them to take a hold of my identity as a person. If the New York Giants would lose a football game, the rest of my Sunday would be ruined. It was not until I met my future wife that she allowed me to see just how ridiculous this self-caused stress truly is, which essentially outlines what occurs in Fever Pitch. Sports provide a sense of unity. Regular folks do not have the talent to succeed in professional sports but we can certainly root for others and seeing them win provides an irrational sense of accomplishment in ourselves. As Ben states in the film, the Red Sox show up each Spring and even if they lose, they’re a form of consistency, which cannot be accounted for in the same way as people.
Things go off a bit off the edge as Ben is obsessed with the Red Sox to the point where he has sheets, pajamas, and an entire interior decor for this sports team. He attends as many games as physically possible, which makes the relationship he has with Lindsey a big moment for his development. In their romance, they have many of the romantic comedy moments where someone like Ben, who does not have extravagant good looks proves himself to carry some sort of value to Lindsey. Montages galore, it demonstrates what makes Lindsey attracted to him along with her perspective of what makes for a suitable partner. Their cuteness together makes the ensuing nonsense all the more bearable.
Predictably, the rubber meets the road when Ben’s commitment to the Red Sox interferes with the life Lindey wants to build with him. Considering Ben went to most if not all Red Sox games, surely a disruption would eventually come and the tension lies on how much he’s willing to give up in order to be with Lindsey. From visiting her parents to supporting her career advancement and heading to Paris for a weekend, if it conflicts with the Red Sox, the potential for friction exists. It also surely does not help when during the Major League Baseball season, they play nearly every day.
For as much as the dynamic of these two do plenty for the film’s success, Fever Pitch demonstrates why Jimmy Fallon did not stick it out as an actor. He does fine in the role but when paired opposite Drew Barrymore, the differences in their talent level becomes quite the gap and only becomes more noticeable as the more dramatic aspects of their relationship come to head. Barrymore shines as she does in many of her roles in her portrayal balancing the serious issues her character faces along with really selling why Lindsey would go through all of this nonsense for Ben. Truly a heroic performance honestly.
Watching this film back still makes me wince thinking about what happens in the backdrop of this romance. The year the Red Sox broke their curse and won the World Series, which included coming back from 3-0 against the Yankees. As an avid Yankees fan at the time, I remember the overconfidence of the lead and how with each game, the level of denial began to slip all the way until Johnny Damon whacked the grand slam at Yankees Stadium in Game 7. A time I will never forget but the cuteness of this feature allows me to revisit this traumatic time for me as a sports fan.
Basic in its own way, but having a genuinely important conversation in the world of relationships, Fever Pitch does plenty to display how key it is to prioritize in life. Adding others into it means fewer hours can be allocated for your own passions. I write these reviews very well knowing once I have kids, I will have less time to watch movies and follow along with this site but you have to enjoy the ride and adjust as you go. It’s just how life is and it becomes the ultimate lesson for Ben in this feature.