Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Cultural Diversion: Fever Pitch (The Movie) 

One of the hazards with being married and a parent is that it can have a tendency to reduce your moviegoing (and, to a lesser extent, music-listening) choices to "safe" options. If you're going to spend $70 on an evening out (even though I knew it instinctively, I still did a mental double-take when I calculated the evening's cost), you have a greater tendency to not take a chance on an edgy or depressing movie. Instead, you pick something that won't disappoint, but won't transport your soul, either.

Which brings us to Fever Pitch, the movie adaptation of a Nick Hornby memoir of being a football fan obsessed with the Arsenal squad in north London. The memoir is alternately funny and depressing, because Hornby has no fear in portraying himself as a bit over-the-top in his fandom. As someone who read the book in his mid-to-late-20s, before (I think) getting married and (definitely) before becoming a parent), I did see a bit of myself in there, and it wasn't a pretty picture.

The movie, however, sands off all those sharp edges. Ben's obsession is played for laughs, not for desperation, and is portrayed as something quirky. The resolution requires the characters to do things they didn't show they were capable of doing in the previous 90 minutes. In addition, there were some secondary plot lines that were raised and then dropped, never to be resurrected ever again.

There was a really good movie in there somewhere, struggling to get out. Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore are fine in their roles, with decent chemistry. There are some nice lines in the script. And as romantic comedies go, it's perfectly fine and there are many worse than this. (And, hey, my wife went to a movie where baseball plays a major role. That's a first.)

But it's not a great movie.

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