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All star cast for an underdeveloped script.
When George Clooney selects a movie to star in, direct, or both, one can be confident that this movie will most likely be quality. His comedies are witty, his dramas are daring and his action flicks are suspenseful. Most importantly though, they're always fun. Leatherheads was fun. At least, it started out fun. It started off with charming characters, witty retort and fantastic imagery; the way one might imagine the 1920's actually looked. Slightly sienna tented and all. What you have are three great characters- Duke (Clooney); an old, struggling professional football player (before that was anything to be proud of), Lexie (Zellweger); a big city reporter looking for her scoop, and Carter (Krasinski); a war hero/college football superstar with endless possibilities. Duke wants Carter to become a professional football player to make the game more popular. Lexi wants to prove that Carter is not the war hero that everyone claims he is so she become assistant editor of her newspaper. The three main characters are amazingly doll and entertaining. George Clooney is, well, handsome and charismatic and always a smooth talker. Which he does so well. John Krasinski is of course adorable and lovable and heartwarming just like he is on the Office. Not that this is a bad thing, they both play these characters well. The real stand out here is Rene Zellwigger. She makes Lexi Littleton a strong, opinionated and clever woman who tackles the men in the movie and scores the points that really make this movie worth watching. (Did ya like those football references? Did ya?) When a man compliments her dress she tell him how boring that compliment is, and in turn, how boring he must be for not being able to come up with anything more interesting to say to her. What a breath of fresh air from your standard pretty faces in movies where a blush and a thank you would have passed as interesting character development. But what elements of the game didn't go over so well? (More football references!) The writing. Not the dialogue, which was on point for the entire movie, but the story itself. There were some scenes in the movie which seemed almost too ridiculous for even cartoons. Most notably, the scene in which a speak-easy is raided and so, in an escape attempt Dodge and Lexi knock out some police officers by slamming a door in their face, trade outfits with the cops and then run in circles around a swimming pool until other cops show up. I promise you, its as goofy and ill fitted for the rest of the movie as it sounds. The ending is anti-climactic to say the least. Actually, as I think back on the movie, some pretty interesting things happen at the very end. These interesting things, however, are caught at the bottom of a long, boring, 10 yard line dog pile (Last football reference, I promise.) and are muted by close ups that linger too long, slow motion football passes that don't get cut soon enough and the obligatory fans gasping in the stands in anticipation for. that. one. final. oh my god. he's gonna do it. this will change everything. nothing will ever be the same for the entire game of football. i mean it. the rest of the world will never think of football the same ever again. play. See how that went on too long? I rest my case. So how was Leatherheads? Fun? Sure. Witty? Absolutely! Charming? Definitely. Boring? Sorta. Forgettable? Um...what movie are we talking about?
Across the Universe (2007)
Two Hour Glorified Music Video
This movie is one of the worst I've seen all year. The singing is fine, they did justice to every Beatles song they covered, and the filming of every song was very lovely to watch, so why didn't they just stick with that? The plot that they shoved in between the many songs was contrived and one dimensional. Every character was a bad 60's stereotype and there was little character development for anyone to even care. This is most notable in the fact that there are several characters whos origins, point in the film, and even names (which were all names from Beatles songs, so the joke got old after the 4th or 5th time), aren't revealed until after they sing a few songs that have no relevance to the movie (except, of course, that they're Beatles songs). Some "characters" were introduced just to throw out another song reference, and that was their entire role.
But what was most aggravating to me was that it didn't follow the one simple rule of musicals. The songs that are sung must advance the plot. In Across The Universe, the story line would halt, a song would be sung, and then the story line would pick up again where it had been left off. (The only exception is "Revolution" and "I Want You"...but we're talking 30 songs here) I understand that this is a little harder to do when the songs that are being sung wern't written specifically for the musical, but I know it can be done. Songs from Moulin Rouge were almost entirely covers, and the Broadway musicals Mamma Mia and Movin' Out are sung entirely of ABBA and Billy Joel songs, respectively. If someone can make an entire cohesive musical out of ABBA songs then using Beatles music should have been a no brainer.
Although I think thats the problem. Taymor knows that it's the Beatles, so no matter what you do to it, it'll be a hit. You don't need a brain to figure that one out.