Fever Pitch (1997)
I’ve never read Fever Pitch. I’ve read some of Nicholas Hornby’s other works and enjoyed them. I’ve also enjoyed the film adaptations to varying degrees. This Fever Pitch is the original film version. It was remade in 2005 with Jimmy Fallon and uses Baseball (Red Sox) over football (Arsenal). I saw the 2005 version before ever seeing this.
So if you’ve seen the remake, you have a pretty good grasp on the basic outline of the film. Colin Firth comes from a broken home. His dad attempts to connect to his son and for whatever reason while attending an Arsenal match (his first) he falls in love with the game and team. Throughout the film we see flashbacks of Firth’s character growing up and proving his dedication to the team. Firth is an English teachers, as is Ruth Gemmell, though her character is new to the school. Firth is very laid back and is the “cool” teacher, while Gemmell is a bit more uptight, organized. Naturally they clash, although early on a comment is made about the two of them hooking up because of that. The rest is pretty strait forward, though there are plenty of detail differences between this and the remake.
I don’t remember the remake to really compare to this film so I wont even bother. I did like how they handled Firth’s character. He’s very aloof at first and they do a great job of making him out to be a bit of an ass early on. As the movie progresses, it’s kind of surprising that he grows on you. They also did a great job of portraying how much of a man-child he is and I think the flashbacks sort of help with that. The portrayal of how important that team (or any team) is to the fans is handled really well.
Colin Firth is pretty good. I don’t think it’s as good as some of his other work, but it’s pretty easy to see how he’s already getting typed cast in certain roles this early on. Ruth Gemmell did a really good job as well. I thought she was fantastic. And I love Mark Strong. I don’t think I’ve seen him do a crap job (other than maybe Sunshine, but that was a role). He’s basically playing Firth’s buddy and does a good job at it. Kind of weird seeing him in that capacity, but he’s fine.
Fever Pitch isn’t exactly redefining the rom-com, although I’m also sort of hesitant to call it a rom-com. It has a bit more depth to the characters development and there seems to be a more realistic view of life’s problems. I can also see where people uninterested in football (soccer) would be less than thrilled, although I think the movie does a good job at getting you invested in the sport, sort of like how the remake got a lot of people to pay attention to the Red Sox. It’s also a British film with some references to things some folks might not understand if you aren’t familiar with that culture. I’m a bad judge at this though since I’m a slight anglophile.
Still, it’s a good movie. I wouldn’t necessarily pop it in if I wanted to watch a light, fluffy, rom-com, since I still have a hard time as seeing it as one of those movies. Still, it’s a good movie to watch at some point and I can’t imagine that people would hate this if they liked the remake or if they like rom-com’s or similar such films. I mean Colin Firth’s in it so that’s always another reason to check it out.