• Fever Pitch



    Released by: Twilight Time Releasing
    Released on: March 8th, 2014.
    Director: David Evans
    Cast: Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Ruth Gemmell, Neil Pearson
    Year: 1997
    Purchase From Screen Archives

    The Movie:

    Directed by David Evans from a script by Nick Hornby based off of his autobiographical book of the same name, 1997’s Fever Pitch stars Colin Firth as Paul Ashworth, an English teacher who loves nothing in this world more than a good football match. He coaches the team at the school he works at and is absolutely obsessed with Arsenal, his favorite team, but for the most part, Paul is a pretty mellow, easy going guy.

    This is all well and good until he meets a new teacher at the school named Sarah Hughes (Ruth Gemmell), a beautiful blonde woman who really can’t get into fanatical sports types and who finds his tendency to rile up his equally obsessive students disruptive to her own class. Of course, eventually they become drawn to one another. As Paul’s beloved team wins and loses his mood and therefore his life swing accordingly while Sarah remains the very model of calm and balance. As they become attracted to one another despite their differences, a series of flashbacks give us more background details on what makes these two characters what they are while they look for the common ground on which they hope to base the actual substance of their relationship.

    The movie gives us enough of the details of Paul’s younger years so that we can at least understand his obsession even if we don’t always agree with it. He takes things to pretty ridiculous extremes and it’s easy to see why Sarah would get irked by some of this even if they do wind up going on dates to Arsenal matches together. Football (or soccer, if you prefer) is a bit of a family tradition for the Ashworth family and when his parents split up when he was a child, it was something for him to latch onto. He’s grown up in an environment where it’s okay to act the way he does in relation to his favorite team and that it’s all been so intertwined with his life that in a way, he can’t help himself.

    A pre-disposition to enjoying sports movies will probably help going into this one, but don’t consider it mandatory. Despite the fact that the film is loaded with some nicely shot scenes that take place at the matches and despite the fact that the movie is peppered with interesting supporting characters who equal or surpass Paul’s own obsessions, it’s the characters that drive this one. Firth does a great job giving life to Paul. We feel for the guy and we want him to win the girl, but at the same time we don’t necessarily want him to have to give up something that is so obviously near and dear to his heart to get it. On the flip side, you can’t help but feel for Sarah either, as she obviously comes to care for him greatly but understandably has issues with the many ways in which he is still a boy and not yet a man. Of course, there are pro’s and con’s to becoming a grown up, right? Evans lets this unfold at a good pace and again, those ever important flashbacks do help quite a bit in elaborating on much of this.

    The end result is a romantic comedy (for some of us, the most dreaded of genres) that actually works without having to resort to corny melodrama or completely overused clichés. A solid soundtrack of British pop and rock helps a bit here too, as do solid production values and good cinematography.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Fever Pitch looks great on Blu-ray from Twilight Time, framed at 1.85.1 in AVC encoded 1080p high definition. Colors are nice and natural, the greens really impress here, while skin tones remain lifelike and realistic looking. There doesn’t appear to be any noise reduction or edge enhancement here, so film grain is left untinkered with, but at the same time the picture is clean and free of any obvious print damage. Detail is strong, as is texture – the movie looks great.

    Audio options are provided in English language DTS-HD 2.0 Stereo Master Audio and English DTS-HD Mono with optional subtitles provided in English only. The levels are properly balanced here and while this is a dialogue heavy track, the music used throughout the movie and the periodic sound effects have good range and presence. There are no issues with any hiss or distortion to report and all in all the audio shapes up quite nicely here.

    The main extra on the disc is an audio commentary track with Twilight Time’s Nick Redman and Julie Kirgo. In a lot of ways, this is as much a fan track as it is a critical analysis, but you can’t fault them for that. Kirgo’s affection for the movie is particularly enthusiastic as she gets into the nitty gritty behind what she likes and really appreciates the picture while Redman fills in some gaps with trivia and historical facts and figures. It’s quite a warm track and it actually suits the tone of the movie quite nicely. Additionally, as is the norm with Twilight Time releases, we get the obligatory Isolated Score Track in DTS-HD (always a nice touch), menus and chapter stops.

    Inside the keepcase is an insert booklet of liner notes written by Julie Kirgo. Again, her affection for this film shines through as she offers up some background information on the picture as well as some thoughtful insight into its effectiveness.

    The Final Word:

    Fever Pitch is a romantic comedy, not often the type of movie we really specialize in around these parts and likely a movie a lot of readers will look past simply because of its genre label. Having said that, it’s actually a pretty charming little movie and, while not without its share of flaws, it features some likeable characters and solid performances. The Blu-ray release Twilight Time isn’t stacked with extras but the commentary is fun and the presentation very nice indeed.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!