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(Synopsis) Jimmy "Dodge" Connelly (George Clooney) is the team captain
of the Bulldogs in the struggling pro football league in 1925. The
entire pro football league is in danger of collapsing, one team at a
time, and his team is next. Dodge gets an idea of saving the team by
recruiting a college football star who fills the college stadium with
over 45,000 cheering fans. With the lure of big money, Dodge is able to
convince Carter Rutherford (John Krasinski) to drop out of college and
join the team. Carter is not only a star football player who can outrun
his completion, but he is also a national war hero of WWI who
single-handedly captured a platoon of German soldiers. Lexie Littleton
(Renee Zellweger) is a newspaper journalist assigned to get Carter's
real inside story about the capture of the German soldiers. To get the
story, Lexie must travel with the team, and in time, both Carter and
Dodge fall for her. Only one will win her love as the fourth quarter
comes to an end.
(My Comment) George Clooney not only starred in this slapstick comedy, he also directed it. The movie may not win any awards, but it is enjoyable to watch. Since the movie took place in 1925, the writers took us back to that time, and slapstick was the rule. If you let yourself go and get into the movie, you will actually get the feel of that era. George is very talented, but I don't think he has a flair for comedy. Renee Zellweger and George share a chemistry together that works well for this movie. You may think this is a chick flick, but you would be somewhat wrong. The love angle doesn't really get going until the end. You will love the way they play pro football with very few rules, especially, the last game that is played in the mud. This is a cute movie, and I know they had a lot of fun making it, because it shows. (Universal Pictures, Run Time 1:54, Rated PG-13)(7/10)
George Clooney's latest homage to the Golden Age of movies brushes ever
so closely at times to the classic screwball comedies of the '30s and
'40s, but falls short in both the carefree laughs and whimsical
romance. No one else even tries though, so Clooney's efforts are much
appreciated and do culminate in a fairly unique romantic sports comedy.
With the early days of professional football as a backdrop, a scandal, a romance, and a sport all begin to take shape in Clooney's ode to screwball comedy. Desperate to legitimize the sport he so loves, reckless Dodge Connelly (George Clooney) hatches a plan to bring college football superstar and American war hero Carter "The Bullet" Rutherford (John Krasinski) to his team of Duluth Bulldogs as well as the crowd of thousands that will follow. Meanwhile, the Chicago Tribune assigns equally relentless reporter Lexie Littleton (Renee Zellweger) to uncover the truth behind The Bullet's wartime accomplishments and bring down his charade of heroism. Things get even more complicated when both Dodge and Carter fall for Lexie and the game of football must take a backseat to the game of love.
Clooney has all but nailed the performance of the male lead in the classic screwball comedy, however his supporters and the too-serious dilemmas detract from the presentation's overall mood. Clooney's wide-eyed, smooth-talking Dodge Connelly charms with his on-screen presence and go-getter charisma, but John Krasinski's Carter Rutherford rarely provides a worthy opponent. The prize, Renee Zellweger's Lexie Littleton, tries too hard to be the fast-talking, hard-edged businesswoman, and then never becomes one worth winning. Her chemistry with Clooney is hit-or-miss, and George is clearly the victor in their exchanges. The minor characters provide a laugh or two but barely stand out, save for the always entertaining and mildly villainous performance from Jonathan Pryce.
While Clooney may not be able to perfect the laughs and romance of the genre, he does do an excellent job in recreating the times. A jazzy, swinging score from Randy Newman complements and humorizes period events like prohibition raids, as well as the bar-room fights and on-field rivalries. The upbeat, piano-heavy tunes are a definite highlight and truly work well to accent the lighthearted atmosphere. Stock footage, sepia tones, and steady pans across still frames accentuate the feeling of watching a piece of history, and the costumes and set designs appear meticulously crafted.
Chronicling the advancement in professional football from the 1920's, Leatherheads attempts to re-imagine the fast-talking screwball comedies of the '30s - but with only partial success. The dialogue is inventive and amusingly brusque, but oftentimes the conversations are too abrupt. Falling back on waggish expressions and lengthy fistfights, Clooney's homage to classic comedies unfortunately has as many stale moments as engaging ones. Like The Good German before it, Leatherheads re-creates a genre long lost, and while both don't fully realize the style of the classics they emulate, it's refreshing to see someone still remembers.
- The Massie Twins
Just yesterday, my family and I were itching to go to the movie
theatre. After my grandfather recommended it to us for being "hilarious
slapstick humour", and after seeing some funny previews, we decided to
see Leatherheads. Leatherheads, George Clooney's latest movie, dives
into the Roaring 20s, early professional football, the Chicago Tribune,
and fake war heroes, all in about an hour and 44 minutes. As
unappealing and generic as that might sound compared to the average
comedy feature, it was actually a quite fun movie, which is to be
expected coming from Clooney.
The movie follows the story of the Duluth Bulldogs, a professional American football team, and its most well-known player, Dodge Connelly. Luck is not always on the Bulldogs' side, as can be interpreted from the outcome of the first game you watch them play, but trickery and cheating is. Dodge becomes infamous for cheating almost every game and leading his team to victory because of it. It was okay then, though. There were no rules to American football early on, and cheating was what made the game interesting. That's one of the main themes of the movie.
After the introduction comes Lexie Littleton (played by Renée Zellweger), a quick-witted reporter for the Chicago Tribune who doesn't like her co-workers too much. After calling them "dimwitted" or something similar for the fortieth time, Lexie is assigned by her boss to a story on Carter "The Bullet" Rutherford (played by John Krasinski), a war hero with a more than embellished story. When she is promised the assistant editor's desk if she brings back some dirt on The Bullet and exposes his fake war story, Lexie sets out on quite the adventure, meeting Dodge and the rest of the Bulldogs along the way.
I know that all of this probably sounds generic to the average moviegoer, but it's actually a quite fresh and fun movie. With any other actor and actress at the forefront at the movie, it may have come off as generic and boring, but Clooney and Zellweger have enough chemistry and enough quirks to make the movie fun. There are also some absolutely classic lines and scenes. It's just a fun movie. Don't expect too much depth, because there really isn't any. This movie is more than enough to quench the thirst of any moviegoer who asks for nothing more than an hour and a half of simple humour and slapstick antics.
The historical accuracy is there. Some scenes are featured in a speakeasy, with a female African-American jazz singer performing. Basically everything you see is typical of the time period. Actually, anyone watching the movie might get a little shock when they hear that coffee is only 10 cents a cup at a diner Dodge stops at early on in the movie. However, on the other hand, some major plot areas are not at all historically accurate, especially relating to the football commissioner, since there was no football commissioner for the NFL until 1941. However, this is perhaps looking too deeply into a fun, casual movie.
The main criticism I have of this movie is that some of the scenes just go on too long, especially the punching scene which was featured in the previews. After they punch each other in the face for the tenth time and finish it off with a bad joke from The Bullet, you already are hoping that one of them will bash the other's skull in by accident or something just so that the scene can end. To offset that, however, there were some very quick and humorous scenes, like the scene in which Dodge first meets Lexie in the hotel and tries to hide his face by reading an issue of a women's magazine.
Overall, Leatherheads is worth it for the entertainment value. The story isn't fantastic, but the acting is enough to make up for it, even if you only pay attention to Dodge's witty exchanges with Lexie. If you don't go in expecting too much, you will leave satisfied, refreshed, and entertained, and that's really all the movie aimed for.
Reading some of the other reviews, maybe people thought this was
supposed to be a heavy movie? If so, lighten up. This was (and was
supposed to be) a light-hearted movie. And it was pulled off very well.
Acting by Clooney, Zellweger, and others captured the spirit of the
era, including humor, dress, and scenery.
The plot was not deep but flowed well. Clooney's character, Dodge Connelly, heads up a team in Duluth, and picks up a star college player. Eventually, they end up in Chicago, with Connelly on one side of the ball and the college star on the other. The birth of the modern professional football is woven into the plot. Clooney's age, 46, a bit old for a football player, was not covered up with make-up, but integrated into his character. I think that, in the movie, he was 40 to 45 years old. Zellgeger, as Lexie Littleton, a newspaper reporter who has to find the truth behind the college star's heroic war record, played her part very well too.
Very good directing by Clooney. You definitely felt like you were back in the 20's. Not overdone or underdone. One of those movies you walk out at the end glad that you went.
I saw Leatherheads today, despite the negative comments here at IMDb.
On the whole, I agree with the 'movie-guy: Doug' who ventured that this
is a "slapstick comedy that is cute and enjoyable to watch". I'd add
that this is a comedic period-piece, which is pleasant and witty,
rather than hilarious and knee-slapping (if you want to get technical).
It offers excellent sets, costumes and characterizations typical of the
Roaring 20's when Newspapers were godlike, and Radio was just
It's (loosely) about Pro Football in the 20's. The message is that the game was rough, poorly-regulated and messy! (No wonder Baseball was America's game!) College players fared better, with fervent fan support and well-tended fields of play -- but after College, great players packed it up and got real jobs (or switched to baseball, I guess). In this story, George Clooney hopes to boost the fortunes of his floundering Toledo Pro team by recruiting a college superstar (and reported war-hero), played by John Krasinski. Renée Z. is the ace reporter dispatched to get the goods on the football hero's military service record.
The film was reminiscent of the 1988 film '8 Men Out' in doing a great job of recreating the look and feel of that era. However, '8 Men Out' was based upon a real life incident and a fabulous book. 'Leatherheads' was a story one IMDb contributor says George Clooney carried around in his pocket for 20 years. So, I'd agree that the storytelling and comedy bits of the screenplay are lacking a bit. However, George does fine as a Director and Performer -- I don't buy that comedy isn't 'his thing' - he was sparkling in 'Oh Brother Where Art Thou' and 'Intolerable Cruelty' (ahhhhh, but those were Coen Brothers scripts, which showed what George could do with a real creative team behind him). Also, it looked like the cast had a hoot making this thing -- to be honest, if the DVD has lots of bloopers and special features, that alone might induce me to pick it up in 2009.
I quite enjoyed the film, but, then, I like period pieces, especially those about the Jazz Age (8 Men Out, Great Gatsby and the Sting are in my Top-20). Nice soundtrack by Randy Newman here, too. This was witty and pleasant to watch. And PG-13 comedies that are NOT about singles dating morons or kids with three dads, or sperm donors (the Previews at our matinée today) are in very short supply these days.
Might add that Renée was quite charming in the manner of a glamor girl of the Jazz Age, with soft blonde hair and strategic use of red lipstick to produce that perfect 'kissy' smile! Pete Gerety, a veteran character player, chips in with a nice spot as a new Football Commissioner. I recognized Gerety as the smooth-talking oil baron 'Lee Janus' in another Clooney project, Syriana.
7/10 - canuckteach
btw: The NFL really didn't get rolling as a major diversion until NFL Films made it a TV legacy in the late 60's. (In the 50's, it was viewed in crummy black and white with those ugly-duckling 4-poster goalposts).
I saw an advance screening of Leatherheads at NYU Movies101 last night.
I was so excited when it was announced that this movie was being shown.
I settled in my seat ready to enjoy another great movie that George Clooney directs and acts in.
All during the film, I thought to myself "Is it just me, or is this movie going nowhere?". I was trying SO hard to like it.
Well, it wasn't just me. I was surprised to see about ¾ of the full house of people I saw it with feel the same way, even the hosting professor.
As discussed after the screening, it had Top-Notch Scenic Design, Sound Track (by Randy Newman), Editing, Acting (Renee Zellweger was fabulous), Directing, Costumes, and Cinematography. It did not have a good story, and that is what made it fail. The script was written in the 1980's by two sports writers. Clooney has been carrying it around with him for over 2 decades. I suspect that the script was pretty much left the script alone from its origin.
The concept of the story is great, but the writing was horrible. Maybe George Clooney thought that the concept and grandeur would "carry" the film? It was disappointing to see George Clooney in a movie that did not compliment him in anyway. He does do comedy well, as he did in "O Brother, Where Art Thou?". How can you act well with terrible material? George's Directing was great.
"Leatherheads" is a movie of laughs, and feel good fun a period piece
of football nostalgia that's held together by it's slapstick comedy and
blended well with romance. George Clooney who stars and directs gives a
good turn here, yet it seems a little uncommon seeing the superstar in
a period comedy piece as he's clearly a better dramatic actor still he
scores some points here for his style of shooting and direction of the
Set in the 1920's George is 'Dodge' Connelly a football player on the field and a ladies man off it, and this is before the big money and rules changes that took into form for the game. Clooney's team the Duluth Bulldogs are a scrapper bunch at play yet the team is tough and gritty, and off the field George's Dodge character is full of drink and has eyes for a dame. Enter Lexie Littleton(Renee Zellweger)who's an elegant and sexy snap news lady of a reporter as she's a little lady in red from her nifty wardrobe. While the Bulldogs team and other foes have gone bankrupt and many move on to other traits of work like mining and labor, a plan then develops to invest in and start an organized league with the help of a famous recruit for the Bulldogs that being college ivy league stud and apparent war hero Carter Rutherford(John Krasinski). Along the way then the film blends with plenty of slapstick laughs and comic gridiron action from strange and crazy tackles to muddy fields to catchy flirtation one liners and romance that is seen in a chastely and sexy way. And the big surprise is the truth about the apparent battlefield story is revealed.
Overall this isn't a great movie, but it's OK as the slapstick and laughs carry it, so if your expecting a historical serious and dramatic look at the early NFL you want get it here. Though the costumes and uniforms of the classic throwback way of no face mask, no chin gear, nor any rules make you feel just like your back watching a 1920's era game. The chemistry between Clooney and Zellweger is good as Renee is a bright treat to watch even though the laughs are good and the scenes are fun Clooney appears out of place here in a comedy work even though his performance is good, this screwball comedy scores for laughs and is flagged for drama and it's lack of focused attention on the history of the start of the NFL.
Having just seen the movie and read the other comments I felt I had to respond. OK, so the dialogue is a little clunky in places and there is no great emotional journey or powerful moral at the end so accept it for what it is - a nice little movie that passes a couple of hours and leaves you with the feeling that you've been entertained. Why is it that people always expect George Clooney to do powerhouse / classic films?? Maybe he wanted to make this because he liked the story and thought other people would too? The characters are simple as is the story but it never pretends to be anything big. It's a light hearted caper that does nothing the offend the senses or damage the careers of anyone involved. Let it wash over you! My advice? Go see it and make up your own mind, who knows - you might even enjoy it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
While the dialog is clever and the acting is up to par, the mix of
sports and romance ultimately falls flat. The legitimizing of football
in the 1920's is the main plot point, with Clooney's Dodge Connelly
attempting to popularize it through recruiting war hero turned college
football phenomenon, Carter Rutherford, played by Krasinski.
The plot thickens when an officer who fought alongside Rutherford claims that the golden-boy's actions during the war are less than heroic.
Zellweger's ambitious Lexie Littleton doggedly pursues the truth behind the tall tales, all the while being pursued by the meant-to-be charming football has-been Connelly and the bright eyed Rutherford, who's reputation she is meant to dismantle. While Zellwegger looks the part of a '20's bombshell, Littleton is little more than an instigating character meant to stir up rivalry and trouble.
Though Littleton and Connelly's repartee is meant to mirror that of classic characters, she remains a shadow of prior female protagonists and never comes fully into her own. Her wavering affections for Rutherford and Connelly do not fit into the classic feminine archetype she was meant to embody.
While Clooney's smooth-talking Connelly was written with the intent of being charming, his actions oftentimes appear more arrogant than anything else. He is an unabashed trickster both on and off the field, but instead of coming off as an artful beguiler, he instead appears dishonest and at times unworthy.
Krasinski's Rutherford is by far the most charming and likable character in the film; his aw-shucks demeanor is disarmingly enchanting.
While Rutherford was built up as a rival for the aging Connelly, it is difficult to perceive in what way they are meant to compete with each other. He is stuck in a lie that snowballed into epic proportions, and his naiveté shows when he is genuinely wounded by Littleton's betrayal.
The remotely villainous CC Frazier, played by Jonathan Pryce, is an amusing feature of the film. His immoral approach to business and his eager desire to take advantage of the talent of others, namely Rutherford, shows a different and less promising side to the professionalizing of football.
While the conflict between Rutherford and Connelly appears somewhat stilted, the banter between the two is unequaled throughout the film. Most of the truly funny moments are between the two, honoring slapstick bits made famous in early cinema.
Randy Newman's swinging score is jazzy and jaunty, adding light excitement and highlights the screwiest scenes.
The Mention, and the ignoring of, prohibition also added legitimacy to the film, leading to an entertaining old-fashioned police chase involving Littleton and Connelly.
The football scenes were initially exciting, with Connelly's dupes and playing dirty rallying the spirit of football and Rutherford's clean and direct approach offering an interesting parallel. However, the final game is rather anticlimactic.
What was meant to be the pivotal scene in the football game was dissatisfying and confusing, using old suspense-building clichés to mount a weak scene. The final game was meant to be dull in order to put across Connelly's assertion that the rules of football ruin the game, but nonetheless it results in disappointment.
The costume designs, including the old-fashioned football uniforms and Littleton's various old time dresses make one feel as if they are taking a look back into the past, as does the beautiful cinematography.
"Leatherheads," is entertaining and fun, but its attempt to emulate the past genre ends up ultimately dissatisfying.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
'Leatherheads' tries so hard. Tries to be light hearted. Tries to be a
comedy. Tries to be a love affair. Let's see, it tries to be a 'His
Girl Friday' by way of 'The Sting' by way of 'It Happened One Night' by
way of a dozen sports movies. Alas, trying isn't doing and the movie is
as soggy as the last game's field.
A fan of movies would watch the big fight scene in the speakeasy between the Duluth Bulldogs and some soldiers and realize that the fights that John Ford staged with such style and verve and humor in movies like 'The Quiet Man' or 'Donovan's Reef', or 'The Searchers' may have seemed easy to do but obviously aren't. I would bet George Clooney thought channeling John Ford would be easy as well. How hard could it be: masculinity run amok, punches, bottles broken over heads, an imperturbable piano player...just put it up there on the screen with some happening music. Sorry. It takes a master to make fight scenes flow.
Movies aren't wished into existence. Humor is hard. Romance is hard. Slapstick a lost art.
I once read that you never wanted to sit too close to a ballet performance. Something about not wanting to prick the fantastic bubble of the performance by hearing the thuds of the dancers' feet or the grunts of the lifts. This movie is like that...all strain and good intentions, handsome actors, nice sets, but it thuds through its paces rather than gallops like the original Galloping Ghost, Red Grange, who the movie is loosely based on.
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