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The Perfect Catch Review

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Thirtysomething Boston schoolteacher Ben (Jimmy Fallon) strikes it lucky when he meets high-flying executive Lindsey (Drew Barrymore). But when the seemingly perfect couple reveal to one another their respective obsessions — he’s a baseball nut, she’s a w

★★★★★

This transatlantic reworking of Fever Pitch, Nick Hornby's novel about a bloke obsessed with Arsenal, shifts the action to Boston and the Red Sox baseball team — with a handy title change to help prevent us confusing it with the '97 homegrown adaptation which put Colin Firth centrefield.

Working from a script by comedy veterans Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel (Splash, City Slickers, Robots), Peter and Bobby Farrelly have made the material very much their own — in the same way that John Cusack and Stephen Frears did with their Chicago-set version of Hornby's second book, High Fidelity. Perhaps that's unsurprising, given that just as Hornby is a full-on Arsenal supporter, so too are the Boston-born Farrelly brothers major Red Sox fans. And they, like Hornby before them, combine to winning effect heartfelt passion for their subject with a pleasing line in self-deprecating humour.

The greater emphasis on the romantic storyline, which shoe-horns in top-billed Drew Barrymore's Bridget Jones-like love interest, may have all the attraction of an own goal to fans of the original, but even this blatantly commercial strategy works. Now a film of two halves, the embarrassing geek-boy antics of Ben and his Sox fan pals play well in opposition to the uptight, neurotic shenanigans of Lindsey and her lunching ladies.

There’s also good chemistry between Fallon and Barrymore, not just in romantic terms but in a comic sense, too. And Fallon, a Saturday Night Live alumnus and still relatively unknown

in the UK (he sat in the passenger seat of Queen Latifah’s cab in Taxi), gives a surprisingly nuanced performance that shows a good deal of range. His Everyday Joe displays that sense of resignation tempered by an underlying cocksure spirit that's a quintessential Hornby-bloke character trait.

The Perfect Catch might not include many of those lewd, crude gross-out laughs we've come to expect of the Farrellys, but their championing of society's underdogs (usually freaks, but here geeks) is very much in evidence, and certainly makes for an amiable and constantly amusing adaptation.

Not a Farrelly brothers classic, and (some testicle-washing aside) not much in the way of their trademark gross-out humour, but the boys from Boston do an admirable job of transferring Hornby's story into the States and onto the baseball diamond.