While both the book and the original 1997 film are about association football, the 2005 adaptation, aimed at the U.S. market, is about baseball. Both Fever Pitch films feature real-life dramatic or unexpected sporting victories, the original focusing on Arsenal's last minute League title win in 1989, and the remake on the Boston Red Sox's 2004 World Series Championship.
Ben Wrightman, a 7-year-old boy, is going to a Red Sox game with his Uncle Carl. His uncle, who had no children of his own, treated Ben like a son. A narration explains that on that day, Ben became a die-hard Red Sox fan. Just about everything he owns bears the Red Sox name, emblem, or image of a Red Sox player (with the exception of his toilet paper, which bears the New York Yankees insignia). Ben inherited his uncle's season tickets when Carl died. The story picks up 23 years later with Ben (Jimmy Fallon) as a school teacher who is immature for his age. He meets Lindsey Meeks (Drew Barrymore), a professionally successful workaholic executive. When Ben first asks her out, Lindsey rejects him, but she later changes her mind and agrees to go out with him.
On their first date, Ben finds Lindsey very sick and vomiting. She has food poisoning from a new restaurant where she had dined earlier that day. Ben decides to spend the night and take care of her, as well as clean up her bathroom (whimsically telling her it was the "Vomit Elves" that did the work). The next morning, Lindsey, feeling better, finds Ben sleeping on her couch. Ben awakens, and he and Lindsey end up developing a romantic relationship.
Overcoming her initial hesitance, Lindsey becomes attracted to Ben because of his ability to show passionate commitment to something. That spring, he later pretends he is proposing to her but instead asks her to the Red Sox Opening Day, where Stephen King (a longtime Sox fan) throws the first pitch. Lindsey attends, but not being a baseball or Red Sox fan, she knows nothing about the Curse of the Bambino or even how to pronounce the name Yastrzemski. The two continue attending the games together until one summer night when Lindsey attempts to catch up on work by taking her laptop to the game. Not paying attention to the game, she is knocked out by a line drive foul ball by then Baltimore Orioles shortstop Miguel Tejada off Mike Myers (which ends up making the late night sports highlight reel). She eventually recovers but stops going to the games.
Things take a turn for the worse when Lindsey invites Ben to accompany her to Paris, and he declines the offer because the Red Sox are in the heat of the playoff race. Before leaving for Paris, she tells Ben she is "late" and may be pregnant with his child, though they later learn she is not. Lindsey starts to become fed up with Ben's obsession with the Red Sox. Ben agrees to miss a game against the Yankees in order to escort Lindsey to her friend's birthday party. Ben and Lindsey have a wonderful time together, and after making love, he tells her it was one of the best nights of his life. Moments later, Ben receives a call from his ecstatic friend Troy, who informs him that the Red Sox overcame a seven run deficit in the bottom of the ninth inning to pull off one of the greatest comebacks in team history. Ben becomes irate that he missed such an historic Red Sox moment, greatly hurting Lindsey's feelings. After Lindsey miserably declares he has broken her heart, he and Lindsey separate for a while.
Ben soon misses Lindsey and visits her in a futile attempt to reconcile. He eventually feels her loss so deeply that he plans to sell his season tickets to Chris, the husband of Lindsey's girlfriend Robin (ironically enough for $125,000 - the price for which Red Sox owner Harry Frazee sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees in 1920), in order to prove that Lindsey means more to him than the Red Sox do. Lindsey finds out about his plan during the celebration for her much-anticipated promotion. Immediately leaving the celebration, she rushes to the ballpark to try to stop Ben. She gets in during the 8th inning of the Red Sox—Yankees playoff game when the Sox are just three outs away from being swept. Ben is actually in the process of signing a contract with Chris as they sit in the stands. Because she is unable to reach Ben from her section in Fenway Park in time to stop Ben from signing the contract, Lindsey illegally runs across the field, deftly avoiding security personnel as she eventually reaches Ben. She tears Chris' contract in pieces and explains that if Ben loves her enough to sell his seats, then she loves him enough not to allow him to do so. The two reunite and kiss in front of the entire crowd.
The narrator (Al Waterman) explains how the Red Sox won that game and then beat the Yankees three more times to win the American League pennant, later sweeping the National League champion St. Louis Cardinals in four games for their first World Series title in 86 years, with Lindsay and Ben traveling to Busch Stadium in St. Louis for the decisive Game 4. The two of them also get married, and she gets pregnant. Al explains that the baby will be named after one of the players: Ted Williams Wrightman if it's a boy, Carla Yastrzemski Wrightman (for Carl Yastrzemski) if it's a girl, with the narration jokingly hoping for a boy.Drew Barrymore as Lindsey MeeksJimmy Fallon as Ben WrightmanJason Spevack as Ben in 1980Jack Kehler as Al Waterman (also the narrator)Scott Severance as ArtieJessamy Finet as TheresaMaureen Keiller as VivLenny Clarke as Uncle CarlIone Skye as MollySiobhan Fallon Hogan as LanaKaDee Strickland as RobinMarissa Jaret Winokur as SarahEvan Helmuth as TroyBrandon Craggs as CaseyBrett Murphy as RyanIsabella Fink as AudreyMiranda Black as CarrieGreta Onieogou as TammyJohnny Sneed as ChrisJames Sikking as Doug MeeksMichael Rubenfeld as IanWillie Garson as KevinArmando Riesco as GerardZen Gesner as SteveJoBeth Williams as Maureen MeeksMark Andrada as EzraCharlotte Sullivan as Spin InstructorScott Desano as Binocular GuyLizz Alexander as CharleneShary Guthrie as ChristieDon Gavin as CopAndrew Wilson as Grant Wade / Patrick LyonsMartin Roach as HusbandGina Clayton as Lady at Other TableWayne Flemming as LeonJackie Burroughs as Mrs. WarrenStephen King as HimselfKris Williams as HerselfSteve Levy as Himself
Red Sox players and staff castJohnny Damon (Center fielder)Trot Nixon (Right fielder)Jason Varitek (Catcher and captain)Jim Rice (Retired left fielder, whose #14 is retired by the Red Sox)Joe Castiglione (Red Sox radio announcer for WEEI)Don Orsillo (Red Sox TV announcer for NESN)Dennis Eckersley (Red Sox TV analyst for NESN)
The original plot had assumed the Red Sox would lose in the playoffs. However, the Sox stunned the baseball world when they won four straight games to win the 2004 ALCS against the rival Yankees (becoming the first MLB team to win a seven-game series after losing the first three games) and subsequent World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals to break the "Curse of the Bambino." Thus, the ending had to be rewritten. On the day of Game 4, with the Red Sox on the verge of a sweep, The Farrellys decided to bring Barrymore, Fallon, and a film crew to St. Louis hours before the first pitch - and Barrymore and Fallon attended the game at Busch Stadium in character. When the Red Sox made the final out to secure a 4-0 win over the Cardinals that broke the Curse, FOX cameras on the live broadcast caught Barrymore and Fallon, as Lindsey and Ben, running onto the field and kissing to celebrate. The film, with its updated ending, was also screened at Fenway Park the following August as a screen was set up in center field.
Originally, Shawn Levy, who was a huge fan of Nick Hornby's works for years, was attached to direct, with Gwyneth Paltrow playing Lindsey. However, Paltrow found the script mediocre and turned down the role. Brian Robbins replaced Levy, but he quit the project as well. After Drew Barrymore replaced Paltrow and Jimmy Fallon joined the cast, Jay Russell, P.J. Hogan, Luke Greenfield, and Mira Nair were all rumored candidates to direct until the studios hired the Farrelly brothers to take the helm for the film.
On Rotten Tomatoes the film had an average rating of 65%, based on 189 reviews, with an average rating of 6.3/10. The site's critical consensus read, "While not a home run, Fever Pitch has enough charm and on-screen chemistry between the two leads to make it a solid hit." At Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average score to reviews from mainstream critics, the film received an average score of 56 out of 100, based on 37 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". On CinemaScore, audiences gave the film an average grade of "A–" on an A+ to F scale.
From a cinematographic and literary perspective, the film received some favorable criticism from experts Roger Ebert and James Berardinelli.
The film opened at #3 and grossed $12.4 million in its opening weekend. The final North American gross of the film was $42,071,069, and the worldwide gross was $50,451,307.
"Sports Guy" Bill Simmons of ESPN disliked the film because he regarded it as a "chick flick" disguising itself as a sports movie and said that no Red Sox fan would give up season tickets for love, but Red Sox Nation voted to award Fallon honorary membership for playing Ben so convincingly despite Fallon being a Yankees fan.
- The Standells - "Dirty Water"
- Dropkick Murphys - "Tessie"
- Tears for Fears - "Who Killed Tangerine?"
- Popium - "Sooner or Later"
- Ivy - "Thinking About You"
- Nick Drake - "Northern Sky"
- Marah - "My Heart Is the Bums on the Street"
- Steve Wynn - "Second Best"
- The J. Geils Band - "Whammer Jammer" (Live Version)
- The Human League - "(Keep Feeling) Fascination"
- Chic - "Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah)"
- Joe Pernice - "Moonshot Manny"
- Jonathan Richman - "As We Walk to Fenway Park in Boston Town"
- Mad Larry - "Window Pane"
- Hurricane Smith - "Oh, Babe, What Would You Say?"