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Life Imitates Art in New Baseball-Centered Romantic Comedy, <i>Fever Pitch</i>

  • Alan Silverman

Drew Barrymore and Jimmy Fallon co-star in a new comedy film that asks the question: "can a fervent baseball fan find love and happiness with a woman who couldn't care less about the game known as the 'American pastime?'" Alan Silverman has a look at Fever Pitch.

Baseball fan Ben Wrightman could never say 'it is only a game.' That's because his team is the Boston Red Sox, well known for fans whose loyalties have no limits. He's found new romance with hard-driving business executive Lindsey Meeks and she knows it's serious when he gets down on one knee to pop that all-important question.

Jimmy Fallon, former cast member of the popular sketch comedy TV show Saturday Night Live, co-stars as Ben and says he is enough of a sports fan to understand the character:

" I was born and raised in New York, so if I had to pick a team it would have to be from New York: the Knicks or the Yankees or the Mets," he explains. "I'm not as crazy as my character in this movie. This guy is obsessive. He has Red Sox sheets and Red Sox pillowcases and a poster of Carl Yastrzemski in his living room and a framed picture of Tony Conigliaro by his bedside. The guy is really obsessed. I'm not like that at all."

Drew Barrymore plays Lindsey and believes her attempt to accept Ben's baseball in their relationship is very relatable to contemporary young women.

"I like women like [my character] whose attitude is 'I'm going to be cool,'" she says. "'I'm not going to strip away who you are. I'm going to figure out how to work with this.' I think that's such a problem that we have in relationships: we initially fall in love with the people and then we start to whittle that away in these compromises. All of a sudden you ask yourself 'how much do I get to keep of myself when I'm in this relationship?' She's trying to balance her work and her friends and her relationship; and it really is a juggling act for all of us. I think that's a very real thing that we go through and I liked exploring that in this film.

"I personally think there are way more harmful things to be obsessive about," she adds, "but I think what we come realize in this film is that 'I want you to be who you are and I want you to keep this and somehow we're going to find a balance where I don't feel like I'm completely second to this.' I also think he has to make compromises and I have to make compromises, but in the end it's about celebrating each other and who we are. That's just a beautiful thing.

Like the romance in the story, Fever Pitch ran into some problems during filming because the Red Sox are supposed to be perennial losers; but last year, they started to win and while the team was on its way to its first World Series victory in more than 80 years, Fallon says some changes had to be made.

"If we put in the script that the Red Sox won the World Series, people would say 'Oh yeah, give me a break. It's a Hollywood ending,'" Fallon says. "We were almost halfway done with the movie when they started winning and we started asking 'what if they win?' So we called the writers, so they started writing different endings. They've been waiting a lifetime ... generations ... for this and it kind of fits in perfectly with the movie. It was the perfect Hollywood ending that you couldn't even make up."

Fever Pitch, adapted from a Nick Hornby novel, is directed by Peter and Bobby Farrelly. It features real stadiums full of genuine Red Sox fans and much of the film is shot on location in and around Boston's famous Fenway Park ball field.

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