Heroes of the Zeroes: Fever Pitch (2005)
Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers’ daily, alphabetical look back at the 365 best films of 2000-2009.
Peter and Bobby Farrelly breathe the comic minutiae of romance, generosity and friendship. So it’s too bad that their name brand frequently forces them to turn blue for scatological humor.
The Farrellys wisely beat a retreat from that in their tamest live-action film, 2005’s “Fever Pitch.” Nick Hornby’s soccer-novel source changed to reflect once-accursed baseball losers (the Boston Red Sox), but it understood sweat-stained sports gear isn’t always a souvenir to be replaced, but a precious memento.
Coincidentally, it’s the second great romantic comedy to end with Drew Barrymore on a ball diamond and the only work of fiction to feature Jimmy Fallon as a believable human being with feelings, as Fallon handles a possible pregnancy with unexpected dramatic poise.
They’re Ben and Lindsey — he a charming, if childish, schoolteacher overly obsessed with the Sawx, she a career woman overly obsessed with promotions, both to the detriment of their dating lives.
“Fever Pitch” shows patience at the plate, letting Ben and Lindsey feel out each other’s quirks and fall in love at a pace romantic comedies rarely relax for. Their awkwardness around each other is authentically nervous — will she give up some measure of control, and will he obtain a focus beyond the fall playoffs?
Though far from a game-changer, the characters, chemistry and conflicts become far more compelling, believable and moving than those in over-praised peers like “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” or “(500) Days of Summer.” Instead, here’s a romance about two of love’s truest aspects — compromise and compassion.