George Clooney seems to have this fascination with the Golden Age of Hollywood. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. He’s done some great work that hearkens back to older styles of filmmaking. But, like anyone, he can misstep. And holy crap does he with Leatherheads.
Leatherheads, essentially, is about the start of pro-football. Clooney pulls double duty, both directing and starring as Dodge Connelly, a cocky, yet aging football star of the Duluth Bulldogs in the laughable pro-football league of 1925. In an attempt to continue playing and subsequently legitimize the sport he loves, Connelly scouts the talents of hot shot college star and WWI hero Carter Rutherford (John Krasinski) to bring in fans and, more importantly, money. Lexie Littleton (Renèe Zellweger) is a reporter charged with debunking the myth of Carter Rutherford, but plays romantic interest to both male leads instead. Hijinks ensue!
Yes. Hijinks. Anyway… It’s not a wholly unlikable movie, and with both Zellweger (Chicago, Empire Records) and Clooney’s (Good Night and Good Luck, O Brother Where Art Thou) classic charm, matched with Krasinski’s (The Office– US version) boyish charisma, it’s really hard not to like it.
But, and it’s tough for me, as a huge Clooney fan, to admit this, Clooney got a bit to esoteric. Which I suppose is a fancy way of saying “full of himself.” Not in a bad way, mind you. But he tried to throw too much into the stew and it came out muddy, with a funny after taste.
When it was good, it was really good. Really funny. But there were just as many, if not more, bad scenes that dragged down the entire proceedings. There could have been some big cuts made to the film, and the storyline would have remained intact, and more enjoyable as a whole. Instead you walk away saying “I liked this scene, but not this one. And then this one, but not so much that one.”
Again, no actor was bad. There just wasn’t anything exquisitely good about their performances. Though Krasinski holding his own against the formidable co-star that is George Clooney was impressive. His career seems to be following a similar trajectory as Clooney’s. Breakout star of hit NBC during the Must See TV Thursday night line-up, make a couple of movies, eventually move on from said show. I just hope he doesn’t have a fiasco of Batman and Robin like proportions on the horizon.
So… final verdict, not terrible, just not very good either. You’ll walk away unfulfilled. Definitely worth a rental though!
– Brodie Mann