Adapting English humour into big screen US movies is a tricky thing due to cultural differences. Like it or not, the fact is that British humour tends to be darker, edgier and more about timing and setup rather than lots of snappy one-liners and sarcasm that so dominates US television and film. Only the British can really do British humour, likewise only the Americans can really do American humour – it’s not a prejudice, it’s just a fact.
Thus “Fever Pitch”, in which the Farrelly Brothers turn Nick Hornby’s biting English satire about love of football into a warm fuzzy US rom-com about baseball, wastes what essentially had a lot of potential to be a great example of the genre. What’s left isn’t bad, but its far from the comedic heights it should’ve reached. It does serve though as an interesting example of the first Farrelly Bros. comedy that doesn’t rely on silly off-taste physical gags.
In fact the film tries so hard to be endearing it actually comes off hard to hate. Barrymore has a knack for this genre and she works it well, Fallon is still unproven but does a much better job this time around than his woeful debut effort in “Taxi”. Still, both performers lack that spark that made Drew & Adam Sandler’s films together flow so well, and they’re not helped by the sometimes clumsy cliches the script hurls at them.
Despite coming from a very good scripting pedigree, the writers have tried to make an old school romancier here which, whilst sweet, lacks some much-needed bite. They also never properly explain either Fallon’s obsession or Barrymore’s interest in Fallon’s character – leaving both their main motivations short changed. The Farrelly’s also soften the tone and so the cotton candy result will be quickly written off by many as a tired retread or simply too saccharine. It’s a crowd pleaser, but could and should have been so much more.