Written by Duncan Brantley & Rick Reilly
Directed by George Clooney
Running Time: 1:54
for brief strong language.
Leatherheads was an entertaining comedy that was a little too light to be great, but was still fun.
In the mid 1920s, professional football wasn't the event you see today. While the college games could attract crowds in the tens of thousands, pro teams would be lucky to get a few dozen. Dodge Connelly was the leader of a team from Duluth and in the middle of a tour, his team ends up going bankrupt. Never having had a career doing anything else, Connelly is lost... until he hears about the Princeton war hero, Carter Rutherford. Dodge figures if he can get Carter on his team, the crowds would follow. Meanwhile, plucky Chicago Tribune reporter Lexie Littleton is put on a story about Carter. It seems Carter's tale of heroism from the war may not be all it's cracked up to be. A love triangle ensues as both men try and win the affections of the lovely Littleton. But when she finds out the truth, will she run with the story, and ruin the lives of both men? Or will her love for one of them, keep her from writing the story of her life?
So while Leatherheads has football as its centerpiece, the movie was really about the playful banter between George Clooney and Renée Zellweger. Now let me first say, I love John Krasinski on The Office and he seems like a really nice guy. But he was completely overmatched in this film with most, if not all, of his scenes with either Clooney, Zellweger or Jonathan Pryce who played Carter's agent CC Frazier. At times I felt a little bad for John because he really does seem like a nice guy who tried really hard, but keeping up with the interplay between the other characters was above him. Clooney and Zellweger completely stole the show.
Clooney may not appear to be the football player type, and he's really not. Watching him running up and down the field and being pounded by men half his age was frightening. But when he wasn't on the field, he was magical. He always has this twinkle in his eye, like not only does he know something you don't, he knows everything you're about to say. He's always thinking 3 steps ahead of everyone. And of course he knows the women love him. Which leads us to Renée Zellweger. I haven't seen much of her lately, but she's still got that girl-next-door playfulness about her. This time she added a bit of Chicago tough girl to her, someone who was dedicated to her job at all costs. Until the end of the movie of course, where a man finally won her over. That was one of the down sides of the movie. They built up this headstrong young woman, only to eventually have her melt at the smile of George Clooney. The movie as a whole was kind of light, with no real substance to anything. That's not to say movies always need to be deep, but the film wasn't really sure if it wanted to be a true slapstick film, an early farce or just a standard romantic comedy. It never really found its identity.
There wasn't a whole lot of actual football played in the movie. The film starts with a game and ends with a game but that was really about it. Otherwise we saw glimpses here and there, and Carter's first game had some action. Most of the movie was spent dealing with Carter's war story and whether or not the truth would come out. And much of the movie was spent with the three stars all falling for each other. Renée Zellweger is almost exactly in the middle, age-wise, of the two co-stars, so it was funny watching her having to play two different roles with each one. With Krasinski, she would giggle like a schoolgirl, but with Clooney she would be the more mature, tough girl. The real question is, if you were her, which guy would you have chosen? Her scenes with Krasinski were OK, but the real fun was when she'd be alone with Clooney. The two of them would just riff off each other, sniping back and forth constantly. You could really see a spark between them from the beginning and it lasted the entire film. They had some truly funny lines, with my favorite being Clooney's 'you're only as young as the women you feel.' I laughed so hard I missed the next four lines in the film. Not just because the line was funny, but it was how he came out with it. And the final football game, played in a mudbath only a pig could love, ends with a hilarious (and impossible) play that capped off a fun, if flawed film.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall, I liked Leatherheads. It wasn't a very deep movie by any means, but the interaction between Clooney and Zellweger was a lot of fun and definitely worth the price of admission.
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