Dodge Connolly (George Clooney) is a charming, brash football hero who is determined to guide his team from bar brawls to packed stadiums in 1920s Minnesota. When the team loses their sponsor, Dodge convinces agent C.C. Frazier (Jonathan Pryce) to sign up rising college football star Carter 'The Bullet' Rutherford (John Krasinski). Carter has plenty going for him including good looks, speed and a reputation for having forced German soldiers to surrender during WWI, but when journalist Lexie Littleton (Renee Zellweger) is sent on the job to profile, she finds holes in the story. And to top it off, Carter and Dodge become rivals for her fickle affections.
Review by Louise Keller:
I suspect part of George Clooney's heart belongs to an era gone by and he glides easily into the 20s for this screwball comedy about football and rules. Meticulously recreating the era and the sensibilities of the time, Clooney looks as though he is having a riot of a time, be it is grappling in the mud for the ball, or throwing madcap lines at Renee Zellweger's worldly, ambitious journalist. It's a good hearted romp that never takes itself too seriously, and Clooney is instinctive in weighing up the importance of issues, characters and dialogue. The key to getting the most out of Leatherheads is to leave your expectations at home and let director Clooney be your guide. For some, he may lean too heavily on the football rather than rapid-fire exchanges in the battle of the sexes, but in any event, Clooney fans will buy it as he affectionately tips his hat to the era.
Clooney appears to be winking at us all the while as the smooth-talking, prank-loving footballer Dodge Connolly, as he dodges the inevitable - the changes to the game and getting older. Dodge knows that money and audiences can be procured with up and coming college champions like John Krasinski's tall, dashing Carter 'The Bullet' Rutherford, whose status as a war hero is an additional drawcard. One thing is clear: everyone has their own agenda. Zellweger's pouting Lexie has the assistant editor's desk firmly in her ambitious mind's eye (watch for Jack Thompson's craggy, accommodating editor), while Jonathan Pryce's shady agent C.C. Frazier chases the ever-increasing commission dollar. Dodge and Lexie are two of a kind and can read each other, even across a crowded room and they spit the film's best lines at each other. She calls him a middle aged boy wonder and he retorts you're as young as the women you feel.
Leatherheads delights in the brawls, especially those on the football field. But there are also bar brawls and in a fight between Dodge and Carter, they carefully explain to each other which body part to avoid. Dodge and Lexie both enjoy playing by their own rules and the chemistry between Clooney and Zellweger is just right. The production design with its muted colours sings of the era and although the film's a little long, it is made with such affection and charm it would seem ungracious to complain.
Published October 2, 2008
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LEATHERHEADS: DVD (PG)
CAST: George Clooney, Renée Zellweger, John Krasinski, Jonathan Pryce, Stephen Root, Wayne Duvall
PRODUCER: George Clooney, Grant Heslov, Casey Silver
DIRECTOR: Duncan Brantley, Rick Reilly
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Newton Thomas Sigel
EDITOR: Stephen Mirrione
MUSIC: Randy Newman
PRODUCTION DESIGN: James D. Bissell
RUNNING TIME: 113 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Universal
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: May 29, 2008
SPECIAL FEATURES: None
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Universal
DVD RELEASE: October 1, 2008