Reel Society

Reviews for the latest movies in theaters and on DVD.

Leatherheads

 

Review by Don Hill

The early days of professional football were anything but glamorous.  Players made next to no money and usually were not really that good, especially compared to modern athletes.  A movie that showed the true nature of the sport should have been great fun.  It wasn’t.

The movie Leatherheads, which told a story set against the backdrop against the pioneer days of pro football, had its moments, and it is Clooney who saves this picture from mediocrity.  Ever since the terrible choice to play Bat-Nipples, Clooney has been a solid actor and his choice in roles has really made him a force in the acting world.  On the other end of this spectrum is Renee Zellweger, who I found irritating and distracting.  Speaking of which, we now pause this program for a rant: 

Renee’s character, Lexi, is supposed to be a liberated, society gal from the 20s.  As such she is required by law to smoke like a chimney.  Except even though she has a cigarette lit in countless scenes, it is never actually in her mouth.  This is the kind of set piece that distracts me from a movie.  If a character smokes, then smoke.  If not, then don’t.  You got that future directors and actors?  Thank you, back to the review. 

The movie follows the Duluth Bulldogs as they attempt to keep the team together through rough financial times (namely, pre-Depression America).  Hearing a news article about a war hero named Carter Rutherford who is playing college football, Dodge Connelly (Clooney) decides that if the war hero/football player would play on his team, attendance would skyrocket and they could make money.  He visits the young man and offers him a deal to play pro ball for money instead of playing for free at college.  Carter (played by John Krasinski of The Office fame) is also approached by a young female reporter named  Lexi (Zellweger) wants to do a story on his life as a war hero turned football star, although with ulterior motives.   As the three collide, the obvious love triangle plot arc kicks in very predictably.  A very funny (as always) Stephen Root has a small role as a alcoholic, washed-up reporter who follows the Bulldogs around.

The movie is funny in parts and it is decent for what it was.   I had very high hopes for this movie.  George Clooney in a period comedy about the early days of football sounds like a winning combination.  I was thinking O Brother, Where Art Thou? mixed with The Longest Yard and that would have been a great movie.  Instead, I got an unfunny version of O Brother with a less talented writer and a competent yet unoriginal director in a rom-com that had a football backdrop.  Not a bad movie, just disappointing.  It could have been a contender…

2 / 5 stars

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