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Movie Review: Leatherheads

Leatherheads: Smartly Dressed, Otherwise Boring

Leatherheads is neither an exhilaratingly triumphant sports movie, nor a funny 1920s romance with a ton of old-timey spark and charm. It's got adorable men (George Clooney, John Krasinski), one really fine performance (Renee Zellweger), and some good costumes but everything else is pretty mediocre. There's nothing so good about this film that I would recommend seeking it out in the theater. Not offensively bad or outrageously entertaining, I'd say Leatherheads falls under the category of "perfect movie to watch on an airplane."

The story begins with cheering crowds and young men playing an exciting football game on a huge field. Afterward, star player Carter Rutherford (Krasinski) is jauntily walking amidst a group of reporters when one asks what's next for America's most beloved college football star. Another suggests he could play professional, which elicits a hearty laugh from the group. We soon find out why: professional football is an entirely different experience, played out in fields to meager crowds. Lacking any official rules, it's easy to cheat and to make things up along the way. One by one, teams drop out of the league from lack of money. This same fate threatens our hero, Jimmy "Dodge" Connelly (Clooney), the captain of the Bulldogs. You can probably guess how Dodge decides to save his team, but still,


Dodge gets the bright idea to recruit Carter and once Carter agrees, the team gets an instant upgrade: better uniforms and shoes, multiple footballs (as opposed to just one per game), and an audience that will pay just to watch Carter practice. In addition to being a football star, Carter also won America's favor by allegedly single-handedly forcing a troop of German soldiers to surrender during WWI. Smelling something fishy in this story, the Chicago Tribune sends their best lady writer, Lexie Littleton (Zellweger) to spend some time with the nation's golden boy and suss out the real story behind his heroic tale. Of course, she crosses paths with Dodge and the two begin a sassy flirtation consisting of fast-talking battles of wits. Problem is, Carter Rutherford takes a liking to Lexie, too, so Carter and Dodge fight over Lexie's affections. Eventually, the love triangle sorts itself out and professional football gets a whole new book of rules — and some respect.

Krasinski is endearing in this role, easily adopting the good ol' boy confidence of Carter Rutherford, America's poster child for American bravery. Clooney — as both the director and the film's star — is good-looking and charming as always, and clearly has a love of the over-the-top, vaudevillian humor. It can be funny and there's a refreshing sweetness to this style, but it also seems like Clooney is trying really, really hard in this film. By contrast, Zellweger seems to fit easily in her role, channeling great smart-mouthed reporters of yore (His Girl Friday comes to mind). If I cared about any character, it was Lexie Littleton by a long shot.

There are some hilariously funny moments that almost make this movie worth the $10, but not quite. I found that my mind wandered, content to let the pretty images flash away and the fun, jazzy music of the roaring '20s squeal throughout the theater with no underlying substance to bring it all together. So if you require anything more than this, look elsewhere.


Join The Conversation
karen-zoo karen-zoo 8 years
A good movie to get on dvd I reckon. It's nice if you're in the mood for something light-hearted and romance-related. This movie made me fall in love with John Krasinski. I think I might start watching The Office just for him.
stephley stephley 9 years
I didn't mean to be insulting - I meant that compared to most comedies today, this required more than a lot of people want to bring to a movie. Not necessarily smart as opposed to stupid, but smart as in pay attention. 'Smart' like a certain style?
Entertainment Entertainment 9 years
Those are some good points you bring up, for sure. However, while I definitely "got" all the humor in the movie — certainly all the points you mentioned — and I thought a lot of it was funny (particularly the banter between Lexie and Dodge), I still didn't love it. I think people can find something to be boring and not enjoyable and that doesn't mean the film was "too smart" for them.
stephley stephley 9 years
A lot of the references, like the Algonquin, would go over a lot of younger people's heads and make a lot of the exchanges between Dodge and Lexy hard to follow. Their exchange in the speakeasy, about the other woman's intelligence was pretty smart and quick. The references to Sgt. York could either tip you off to some of what was coming or be confusing. I wondered if people caught how the team was changing with each game the Bullet played with them, with each player suddenly having a fur coat... We're used to gross out comedies with crude jokes today - this seemed fairly carefully crafted to be true to movies like His Girl Friday (which had a serious scene or two in it as well).
Entertainment Entertainment 9 years
stephley — You think Leatherheads is "too smart" for some people? What do you mean?
stephley stephley 9 years
I dragged my 12-year old to see it today, and she doesn't like anything. She laughed throughout, said it was a good movie as the credits came up and thanked me for a fun day. I thought it was much better than I had been led to expect - too smart for some people?
Brittfish Brittfish 9 years
Maybe your review gave me low expectations, but I thought it was really cute. Cute on a plane, cute in a theater.
kristya kristya 9 years
I saw the film this weekend and while it did drag a bit in some parts I really enjoyed it. It made me laugh out loud and it was gorgeous, everyone looked great and the overall film was so classic. I would recommend it.
JennaV JennaV 9 years
I just got back from seeing it and it was really good. And I wasn't expecting to like it except for the clooney/krasinski eye candy.
OMGoshDramaQueen OMGoshDramaQueen 9 years
Yeah, perfect airplane movie..
JennaV JennaV 9 years
I can't wait :rotfl: It HAS to be better than License to Wed and I saw that in the theatres.
Linda-McP Linda-McP 9 years
I'll add this to my Netflix list and wait.
lolalu lolalu 9 years
i agree, its the perfect airplane movie (if you can stay awake) I was so disappointed too, it could have been a good movie if i wasn't edited so poorly. It had all the building blocks, they just put them together in the wrong formation. But I'd agree, I'm glad I didn't pay to see it ( had movie passes!) or else i'd be really upset ;)
stephley stephley 9 years
I have no problem with eye-candy and a couple of chuckles on a cold Saturday. I deserve a mommy treat after sitting through 'Horton Hears a Who' last weekend. yeck.
nancita nancita 9 years
Perfect movie to watch on a plane sounds like it sums it up perfectly.
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