by Alan Rapp on April 4, 2008

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Leatherheads
  • IMDB: link

“The game of professional football has come of age.”

The year was 1925 and professional football was a joke and losing money fast.  Out of money and options Dodge Connelly (George Clooney), the owner, captain, and marketer of the Duluth Bulldogs, comes up with a plan to save the sport by offering college stand-out and war hero Carter Rutherford (John Krasinski) a spot on the team.

The film has both big jokes and a sly wit.  Dodge, it turns out, is the game’s best promoter, and does what it takes to make his meal-ticket into a star even at the cost of his own glory.  Although the film takes pleasure in Dodge’s loosing influence over the team and the sport, if you watch closely you will also notice Dodge slowly helping out and making sure it’s Carter’s play which gets celebrated.

The film, also directed by Clooney, is light and enjoyable.  Although I wouldn’t classify it as fluff, I wouldn’t spend too much time arguing against that description, either.  Clooney instills a tone, look, and humor to the film not dissimilar to the Coen BrothersO Brother, Where Art Thou?

Although it covers the early days of football it’s not exactly a sports movie.  And although it includes a love triangle between Carter, Dodge, and a reporter on the scent of a story (Renée Zellweger), it’s not exactly a love story either.  The film is a screwball comedy filled with some fun jokes and some pretty good dialogue.

Clooney provides a terrific look the film with a golden hue and has a nice eye for framing indvidual shots and scenes.  As he did on Good Night, and Good Luck (read that review) he also shows his interest in recreating not only the look but the sound of an era, and fills this film with just the right music of the period.

Leatherheads is a nice quirky little film with charm and a kind of class and style that might not be apparent to many on their first viewing.  There’s obviously much talent and work that went into making the picture, and, as I’ve said before, one of Clooney’s strengths, both as an actor and director, is to make the process seem so effortless.  Those expecting an in-depth period piece about the history of football, or the rah-rah sports film like Rudy may feel a little let down.  But if you like old school comedy and a film that takes the extra time and effort to make the film look, feel, and sound authentic, than you should give Leatherheads a chance.

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