Fever Pitch (2005) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

If you are a regular reader, you realize that this site is about more than just movie reviews. We are, of course, reviewing the nudity in the films. We also have a strong running subtext about reviewing the reviewers and the entire traditional process of reviewing movies.

There are two competing philosophies when it comes to defining the purpose of movie reviews. One school holds that the movie reviewer is supposed to give you his appraisal of the film, relying on his expertise to place the film in the proper spot in cinema heaven or hell. We do not attend that school, but the opposite one, which teaches that the movie reviewer's job is to tell you everything you need to know in order to determine whether YOU will like a movie, irrespective of whether he liked it or not.

In other words, if a movie reviewer hates every Hollywood romantic comedy, his opinion of a Hollywood romantic comedy has no value to you at all. You know he will hate it, and that serves no purpose if you happen to be one of those regular old normal people who do not own any turtleneck shirts, and may or may not like a romantic comedy. I don't like that many of them, but I do like some. For me, this works about the same as the Scoopy Theory of Erotic Thrillers, which states that an erotic thriller must be erotic or thrilling, preferably both. I don't much care for erotic thrillers, but when they deliver both elements, I can find them very enjoyable. Similarly, I don't much care for romantic comedies, but when they are both romantic and funny, they can be highly entertaining.

I have a third preference. They have to be truthful. I get turned off by romantic comedies where the plot is so gimmicky that I can't relate to what is going on. Do we really need the hero to have super-human powers, or his girlfriend to have no long-term memory? This last criterion is more of my personal preference than a precondition for a good genre film, however, so the only genuine screening criteria are (1) romantic (2) funny.

Combining those characteristics is not as easy as you might think. Even Woody Allen has been able to do it only sporadically, and very few other people have been able to do it at all. In the era of color films, you can probably count them on one hand. Try to name some good romantic comedies made since Cary Grant retired. There's When Harry Met Sally, The Tao of Steve, ... I'm already grasping for names. The Farrelly Brothers have come close with some funny movies which are "sloppy sentimental" rather than romantic, but in those cases the romance was really playing second fiddle to the laughs. Dumb and Dumber and There's Something About Mary include love stories, but they are really just lowbrow comedies which include love stories, as opposed to romantic comedies.

I suppose that was a lot of words of introduction just to bring me around to a simple point, which is that Fever Pitch is a very good romantic comedy. It is romantic, and (gasp!) it is funny. I watched it in a theater matinee, and the people were laughing ... a lot. Like When Harry Met Sally, it is a great date movie because it tells both sides of the romantic story with some insight, and it has an additional plus for guys, in that they will easily be able to relate to the theme of sports obsession. The film is practically a love poem to the Boston Red Sox. It also meets my personal criteria of delivering credible characters in situations which are fundamentally realistic, albeit slightly exaggerated for some laughs.

Therefore, the critics who blasted this film are telling you absolutely nothing about the film at all. They are only engaging in some form of masturbation, in that the review is telling you only about themselves. Perhaps they don't like Hollywood romantic comedies, or they don't like Jimmy Fallon, or they don't like films from the Farrelly Brothers, or all of the above. Or perhaps they are just complete douchebags. I actually read one review that said Fever Pitch could have been pretty decent if it only could have hired Adam Sandler to play the lead. (!!!) Poor Jimmy Fallon. Talk about no respect. Can you imagine doing anything in the entertainment business yourself, and then reading some review that says Adam Sandler could have done it better? "Hey, you, forget that realistic character crap. Show me the baby talk!" Anyway, that particular criticism of Jimmy was just plain silly. I have never been a Fallon fan, but I came around today. Maybe he screwed up his lines in every SNL skit, but he did just fine here. Sure, he was playing an ingratiatingly sweet and slightly doofy guy who was a lot like Jimmy Fallon, but he still could have screwed up, and he didn't. He handled the entire role beautifully. He was the best "everyman" since Tom Hulce in Animal House - loveable, funny, and kind of messed up in innocuous but embarrassing ways. Like you. Like me. Like most of us. I believed his character. I know a lot of guys like him.

That's exactly what an "everyman" is supposed to do, isn't it?

The fact that he was damned funny was icing on the cake.

Furthermore, this was one of the few movies, if not the only one, which honestly makes us believe that a nerd could get a major babe for a girlfriend. Sure Jimmy's character was a math nerd obsessed with baseball, but he was also handsome in his own way, clean, loveable, funny, sincere, truthful, and nice. Why wouldn't a gorgeous corporate power babe go for him, especially given the slimebags they usually have to deal with? Films have always had trouble with the nerd/babe concept. In Mallrats, for example, who amongst you believed that Brodie could get laid? He never took a bath, shaved, or combed his hair, he spent all his free time playing Sega, he lived with his mom, he had no job or school to go to, and his one and only source of conversation was comic books. Plus he was a whiny bitch and had a small dick. Yeah, you always see those guys picking up on the supermodels, eh? Let's face it, Brodie couldn't get laid in real life because his sense of humor simply wasn't enough to make up for his negative attitude and all of his personality flaws. On the other hand, Jimmy Fallon's character in Fever Pitch was a nerd who actually could get laid, and even get himself a power girlfriend. The film observed the characters accurately and created the romance in such a way that each of the partners provided something that the other would genuinely find attractive.

You can pretty much ignore the agenda of the critics who wrote this movie off. If you are looking for a date movie, this is one you can both enjoy. If you like an occasional romantic comedy, this is a very pleasant one.

  • There is no DVD info available yet
  • The link to the left goes to info about the book. I have heard that it is a terrific book, but it has very little to do with this movie. It takes place in the UK and is about soccer fanaticism.




The Critics Vote ...

  • Super-panel consensus out of four stars: three and a half   stars. James Berardinelli 3/4, Roger Ebert 3.5/4, Owen Gleiberman A.

The People Vote ...

The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, this is a B-. Excellent mainstream date movie. It's a lot of fun unless you just plain hate both love and baseball.

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