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Fever Pitch (2005)

Jimmy Fallon is no Adam Sandler. Now those are words I never thought I'd write, but Sandler and Drew Barrymore have emerged as the new king and queen of romantic comedies, heirs to Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.


That's evident when Barrymore is paired with Fallon in "Fever Pitch." They just don't bring the heat, as the little boy said in "The Rookie."

Fallon plays an honors geometry teacher named Ben Wrightman who seems to live up to his name and then some. When Lindsey Meeks (Drew Barrymore) is laid low with food poisoning the night of their first date, he tucks her into bed, scrubs her bathroom and spends the night on her couch with her dog, whose teeth he brushed. You don't want to know why.

But Lindsey's friends suspect something is amiss. If Ben is such a good catch, why isn't he married?

Setting aside the flawed thinking inherent in that question, it turns out he's a passionate -- some might say obsessive -- Boston Red Sox fan whose apartment is decorated like a gift shop or memorabilia-rich museum. The living room boasts a replica of Fenway Park's outfield wall and anything that can bear the team stamp, from shower curtains to sheets, T-shirts and more formal jerseys, can be found.

Lindsey is a workaholic business consultant who knows virtually nothing about the Bosox or baseball. But she warms to the sport and the colorful characters who faithfully sit near Ben a few rows behind the dugout.

As Lindsey pursues a promotion and Ben pursues the team's shot at the pennant and both evaluate what a future together might hold, they encounter enough rain for a delay of game. But will the game be called entirely, even as Boston marches toward the World Series?

"Fever Pitch" is based on Nick Hornby's autobiographical book of the same name about a rabid soccer fan. It was turned into a British film called "Fever Pitch" starring Colin Firth. Like Hornby's "High Fidelity," transported to Chicago, this "Fever Pitch" has been shifted to Boston and Americanized.

Peter and Bobby Farrelly, the brothers who once specialized in gross-out comedies, direct "Fever Pitch," and it's more "Shallow Hal" than "There's Something About Mary" or "Dumb and Dumber," although there is one juvenile running gag.

There is a sweetness at the center of the movie -- the ballpark is Ben's second home, the fans his family -- but the former "Saturday Night Live" player isn't the acting equivalent of a pitcher who can throw a fastball, a curve ball, a screwball or anything the catcher signals.

Barrymore, on the other hand, is most at home in romantic comedies and she raises the level of his game, but they don't exactly have chemistry of cosmic proportions. Ben and his buddies and Lindsey and her female friends do, and they provide a welcome backdrop to the romance which has all the suspense of a "Murder, She Wrote" episode.

The original script, by Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel, had the Red Sox dropping out of the pennant race. Historic events dictated a change and made for the sort of fairy-tale finish that usually happens only in the movies.