PERFECT CATCH, THE
Career girl Lindsey Weeks (Drew Barrymore) is swept off her feet by schoolteacher Ben (Jimmy Fallon). Despite warnings by her snobby friend Robin (Kadee Strickland) that there must be some dark reason why Ben is still available, Lindsey seems to have finally found her Mr Right. Indeed, Lindsey's dreamboat is hiding a nightmare secret. It is now the start of the baseball season and for the past 25 years his life has revolved truly, madly and deeply around the fortunes of his beloved Boston Red Sox. Can their relationship survive the curve balls and loaded bases of his obsession?
Review by Richard Kuipers:
In his autobiographical novel Fever Pitch, British author Nick Hornby channeled under-used themes of male sporting obsessions into the painfully funny story of an English soccer fan that gradually finds room in his heart for a girlfriend and Arsenal Football Club. The formula was ripe for any number of international remakes (personally, I'd like to see it applied to the sport of curling in Norway) and it's surprising a stateside version hasn't appeared sooner.
What has found its way onto the screen here is a charmer to delight male and female audiences, regardless of knowledge or interest in sports. There are a number of essential elements for this kind of romantic comedy to succeed. The Perfect Catch has got the lot, starting with divine Drew Barrymore as go-getting career girl Lindsey. Thankfully not wasting her gifts on dreck like Charlie's Angels this time around, the actress with the most famous surname in Tinseltown's history of thirsty thespians is spot-on the sweet-hearted girl who proves she's no-one's doormat when the situation demands. Credit also to Jimmy Fallon, who keeps the potentially unsympathetic Ben onside even at the height of his blinded-by-baseball insensitivity.
Snappy scripting by veteran team Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel (Splash!, 1984; Parenthood, 1989) gives the leads plenty of zingy lines to run with and deeper themes of male-female relationships are nicely dovetailed in between gags without appearing like token afterthoughts. They've also supplied an entertaining gallery of obsessive buddies for Ben to hang out with and a sharp-tongued gaggle of gal-pals who provide Greek chorus commentary on the status of Lindsey's love life. All up, The Perfect catch is a delightful romantic comedy about the value of love within the framework of unbridled sporting passion.
What makes it work so well is although baseball is ever-present, it is easy for all of us in the audience to substitute cars, music, model planes.. whatever, and laugh along to the very real facts of life as they apply to any honest male. It arrives as almost an afterthought to note one-time gross-out kings Peter and Bobby Farrelly as the directors. Far from going soft, the brothers who created Dumb and Dumber have done the most subversive thing possible - they've turned out a warm-hearted, thoroughly enjoyable battle of the sexes comedy that's just a whisker away from qualifying as family entertainment. Now, that's truly shocking.
Review by Louise Keller:
There are three of them in the relationship. Ben, Lindsay and the Red Sox. Based on Nick Hornby's best selling autobiography, The Perfect Catch is a poor Americanised version of the 1997 film Fever Pitch, for which Hornby wrote the screenplay and which starred Colin Firth. This time around, under the direction of Peter and Bobby Farrelly, English soccer has been kicked onto the baseball field, and what was contagious passion for the love of the sport, converted into unappealing fanaticism and dumbed down Hollywood style.
When Jimmy Fallon's nerdy maths teacher Ben meets Drew Barrymore's ambitious career girl Lindsay, sparks do not even begin to ignite. Their first date is an absolute disaster, with Ben spending more time with the dog, while cleaning up the evidence of her food poisoning in the bathroom. This is perhaps the only predictable Farrelly Brothers-ism, in an otherwise mildly funny, predictable and contrived romantic comedy, in which girl meets boy, and finds her greatest competition to be a baseball team.
Although Fallon and Barrymore are both charismatic, there is nothing at stake here, nor is there anything real about their relationship. How can you believe that when trying to impress them, the very first time Ben meets Lindsay's parents at dinner, he sticks lobster claws in his ears in an effort to avoid hearing the score of the latest Red Sox game? Baseball might well have changed Ben's life as an impressionable eleven year old, but it is hard to buy an attractive corporate doll like Lindsay being smitten by a baseball crazy, whose bedroom is a shrine to baseball. The characters, like the situations, play out like a phoney game of charades. While there's a moment of honesty towards the end of the film, when Lindsay runs from one side of the baseball field to the other, for the most part we feel emotionally cheated.
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PERFECT CATCH, THE (M)
Aka Fever Pitch
CAST: Drew Barrymore, Jimmy Fallon, Jason Spevack, Jack Kehler, Scott Severance, Jessamy Finet, Maureen Keiller, Lenny Clarke, Ione Skye, KaDee Strickland
PRODUCER: Drew Barrymore, Alan Greenspan, Nancy Juvonen, Gil Netter, Amanda Posey, Bradley Thomas
DIRECTOR: Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly
SCRIPT: Lowell Ganz, Babaloo Mandel (novel by Nick Hornby)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Greg Le Duc, Matthew F. Leonetti
EDITOR: Alan Baumgarten
MUSIC: Craig Armstrong
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Maher Ahmad
RUNNING TIME: 103 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: September 8, 2005
VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Fox Home Entertainment
VIDEO RELEASE: January 25, 2006