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Movie Gets 4 Stars, DVD Edition is a rip-off, though
on September 24, 2005
I'm a Red Sox fan and a sucker for romantic comedies, so I waited for the "Special Red Sox Collectors Edition" before even seeing the flick for the first time -- I knew I wanted to buy it. This review contrasts the two editions, with some minor comments about the movie at the end.
Now I see I paid an extra $4 for the "Collector's Edition" over the regular DVD release for what amounts to about a minute of extra Red Sox highlights interpolated at the end. That's it. That's the only difference. That, my friends, is a rip-off from the marketing people, and a pretty crummy one.
Not to say that as a DVD this isn't a very nice package. The gag reel is pretty funny. The directors' commentary and a couple of the featurettes are interesting enough. And the deleted scenes, frankly, make it into a better movie; I only wish they'd done a Director's cut and re-inserted the deleted scenes, because it makes the occasionally thin plot a lot fleshier. In particular, the deleted scene of Uncle Carl taking young Ben to his first game at Fenway is actually pretty wonderful, and great back story for why Ben is so addicted as an adult. It's a major weakness of Farrelly Brothers movies that they seem to cut for time what are often the best parts of the movies, resorting to the truly wretched device of voice-over narration to substitute for what would've been better done as actual story. "Me Myself and Irene" serves as the ultimate monument to this awful problem of trying to use voice-over narration to solve story problems, where script and editing problems could've been overcome with some attention before production was ever started. "Fever Pitch", fortunately, manages to stand up well enough even with the narration. It's just that it's more obvoiusly in watching the deleted scenes that this could've been raised from an enjoyable but somewhat fluffy movie to one with more of an edge -- both sweet and sour -- had they put them in the "original" movie.
And, as I note, I did enjoy the movie -- the romantic comedy is relatively adult, and despite some glossing over of Ben and Lindsey's respective addictions to the Red Sox and the workplace, one does get a sense of adult motivations and a real relationship between the two. Jimmy Fallon, quite suprisingly, does an excellent job at walking a fine line here between not trying to be a film dreamboat (which he couldn't pull off) and avoiding being a complete moron in the loveable-moron school (which would've been unbelievable, given the Drew Barrymore character's sophistication.) In particular, he does a nice shift of gears from the sweet "winter Ben" to some over the top moments in the height of his Red Sox passion.
One quibble, another thing that could've been fixed with the deleted scenes restored: you never quite get that verisimilitude of exactly what kind of dumb things us Red Sox fans get cranked up by -- arguing on the phone with, say, talk radio about managerial moves at 11 PM while your girlfriend lies naked and beckoning in bed, for instance. Still, good job on getting the essential passions on the table.
But all that said, why on earth did I get charged an extra $4 for a few baseball highlights that do nothing to make the movie better? No good reason. If you like the movie or the idea of the movie, just buy the regular non-collectors' DVD edition. Even if you're a Red Sox diehard like me, no reason to shell out the extra money for the collectors' edition, because there's nothing to collect you won't also be able to get in the deluxe 2004 playoff DVD set of the games.