Drew Barrymore is currently shooting Fever Pitch, based on Nick Hornby's book, and directed by those goofy Farrelly brothers boys. This comes as something of a shock for a number of reasons. For a start, I never figured Drew as a Highbury gal. And then, I have a distinct recollection that they already made this movie a couple of years back with Colin Firth and... Ruth somebody... I remember because she was the spitting image of Natasha Richardson. Or maybe her sister Joely... ?
Further investigation reveals that in its wisdom Hollywood has decided to do an American remake, swapping the Boston Red Sox - a baseball team, sports fans - for the Arsenal. Now, I'm bound to say this is a grand idea - not least because when yours truly first reviewed Fever Pitch eight seasons ago, I remarked on how much better the Americans do this sort of thing (I was thinking of Tin Cup, Beautiful Girls, Diner, all those romantic comedies about arrested guys and terrific gals).
Frankly, I've never heard of Jimmy Fallon, who has the Nick Hornby Colin Firth part, but it's encouraging that Drew Barrymore has top billing, it suggests they've beefed up the female role (never Hornby's strong point). Mind you, they would, seeing as Barrymore is also the producer.
With two DVDs out this month, 50 First Dates, with Adam Sandler, and Our House, with Ben Stiller, Drew is looking quite the rom-com queen these days. It's a type of movie which suits her well. She can pass from serene to flustered, and back again, within the twinkling of an eye. Inherently likeable, she always has you rooting for her, but part of her charm is that she isn't drop dead gorgeous, and she's far from perfect... compare and contrast another of Stiller's recent costars, Jennifer Aniston, who never seems to show us any rough edges or truly relaxes on screen.
For that matter, take a look at Winona Ryder, one of Adam Sandler's costars. Like Barrymore she was a child star and has had her ups and downs. She's at least as technically able in the acting stakes. Yet Winona increasingly resembles empty space on screen, where Drew's personality shines through.
Let's be clear: I'm not claiming she's got great range as an actress. She was totally out of her depth just playing an English teacher in Donnie Darko (did Barrymore ever actually go to school?). But without her, that movie would never have got made. Nor would the planned adaptation of John Kennedy Toole's comic novel 'The Confederacy of Dunces', which is set to star Will Ferrell with David Gordon Green directing: it's an appetising prospect. Stephen Soderbergh has written the script, and Lily Tomlin, Mos Def and Olympia Dukakis are costarring, with Barrymore as Darlene.
Of course, the movie might never come off. But you've got to admire the adventurous streak in Drew which allows her to believe that it will. It's something Hollywood could do with a lot more of.