It's not often I get to watch a movie where I have no knowledge of what it's about or what others have thought of it. But that was the case with "The Perfect Catch" an American romantic-comedy which was released back in 2005, although I must admit I don't even remember it in any of the UK cinema listings. But as I watched it I kept getting a nagging feeling that either I had somehow seen it before and forgotten it or that the plot line was very familiar to something else. It wasn't until the end credits appeared and I saw the name Nick Hornby that it all fitted into place. "The Perfect Catch" is the American adaptation of his novel "Fever Pitch" which had already been made into a British movie using the name of the book. Interestingly the USA release of "The Perfect Catch" was also called "Fever Pitch".
When fun loving Boston school teacher Ben Wrightman (Jimmy Fallon - Taxi) meets over-achieving, workaholic Lindsey Meeks (Drew Barrymore - 50 First Dates) on a school field trip to her offices, it seems an unlikely pairing. But they hit it off and over the winter months a surprising romance blossoms, that is until summer arrives and Lindsey learns that there is a third person in their relationship, in fact a whole team as Ben is a baseball fan, who is fanatical about the Boston Red Sox and it looks like his passion for the home team may signal the end of their relationship.
As already mentioned, "The Perfect Catch" is a romantic-comedy and is pretty much your standard fair of man meets women and they have a turbulent relationship, what else would you really expect these days? But despite this the movie has several elements really working in its favour. Firstly, unlike many modern romantic-comedies we are presented with two lead characters which, whilst having some slightly exaggerated personality traits, are amazingly easy to not only relate to but more importantly actually like. From Ben's fun loving attitude and obsession with his beloved Boston Red Sox, through to Lindsey's obsession with work and her hang-ups about becoming 30 and settling down, you get a real feeling for what these characters are all about and can empathize with what they are going through. It is testament to the skill of Nick Hornby as a writer, that even adapting his story into an American setting still works and we still understand both the loyalty Ben has to his sports team and Lindsey's need to be a high achiever.
Next with any Romantic-Comedy you need to have some chemistry between the two main protagonists otherwise no matter how good all the other elements maybe the movie will undoubtedly fail. Again "The Perfect Catch" scores highly in this department, although you would never class the on screen chemistry as sexually charged. The whole romance between Ben and Lindsey is fun to watch as we get to see their quirks and foibles, but for the most we actually believe that they are falling in love with each other and despite their problems you really are rooting for them to sort it all out.
Like wise, there is no point in having a romantic-comedy which is unfunny and thankfully "The Perfect Catch" is pretty funny, not gut bustingly hilarious but good enough to make you laugh and smile. The humour through out the movie is mainly visual, from the scene where Lindsey gets hit by a wayward baseball to Ben cleaning her dog's teeth with a toothbrush; you have to see it to appreciate it. What was particularly nice is that the humour, although sometimes a bit wacky, fitted perfectly within "The Perfect Catch" and there was no real attempts to get cheap laughs by including any humour which was too outrageous or sexually orientated.
Next up on the list of positives is the brilliant casting of Drew Barrymore and Jimmy Fallon in the lead roles as not only did they fit the bill perfectly but they also complemented each other, making the whole movie more enjoyable. I have to admit that I am a fan of Drew Barrymore and it seems that she has made a niche in the market as a brilliant romantic-comedy actress, with numerous other movies under her belt. What was particularly nice about her casting in "The Perfect Catch" was that the character of Lindsey being a career chaser is different to the other characters she has played in other romantic comedies. Of course she still manages to come across as cute, lovable and vulnerable making her character very appealing.
Opposite Drew Barrymore is Jimmy Fallon who also does a brilliant job of playing Ben, the fun loving teacher who has always struggled to hold a relationship down due to his love of baseball. What struck me early on were the similarities between the style of acting/ comedy which Jimmy Fallon delivers and that of Mike Myers and at times it felt that I was watching Myers rather than Fallon. Saying that, Fallon does a wonderful job and really gets across the point that he is fanatical about the team he supports, a trait that many of us who support football, rugby, or whatever will easily be able to associate with.
Of course "The Perfect Catch" cannot survive with just two characters, and the range of supporting characters and the cast who play them are all first rate. Most notably Ben's friends who also support the Red Sox are a diverse, funny set of characters which will definitely have you laughing on more than once occasion.
Finally on the positive side is that the story moves along at a perfect pace, not so fast that you are left thinking what the heck was that all about and neither to slow at any point. This is helped by the perfect balance of comedy, romance and story which mixes to create a very enjoyable watching experience. Also helping to make "The Perfect Catch" move along at the right pace is a toe-tapping soundtrack which is remarkably enjoyable seeing that the only piece I recognized was "Sweet Caroline" by Neil Diamond and the rest featured numerous tunes associated with baseball.
Okay, enough of what works in "The Perfect Catch", now to the negatives, well just one really and it is one which dominates many modern romantic-comedies, it is very cheesy in places. Cheesy in the fact that whilst the jokes are funny, some are very predictable and the dialogue which is light and witty suffers from being unoriginal and could have easily been pieced together from various other romantic comedies. To be honest the cheesiness is not really a problem as there are many other romantic-comedies out there which are 100 times worse than this for this problem.
What this all boils down to is that I am quite impressed by "The Perfect Catch", I must have been as I have now watched it quite a few times. It is everything I would look for in a modern romantic-comedy, from the right balance of comedy, romance and drama through to the brilliant characters which you can associate with, which is one of the elements in "The Perfect Catch" which really sold it for me. Yes, it is cheesy in places, but that is what has become the norm for modern romantic-comedies. Plus, although the story relies heavily on the world of Baseball it is anything but a sports movie.
Tags: Baseball Movies