Sunday, January 26, 2014

Leatherheads (2008) [PG-13] ***

It's 1925 and Jimmy Dodge Connelly (George Clooney) is the star player for the Duluth Bulldogs, a professional football team in what is laughingly called a league. The Bulldogs are comprised of a ragtag group of men who never grew up and are trying to avoid having to work at real jobs, like miners, machinists or steelworkers. Sponsored by a local business, the Bulldogs can only afford one football, and when that one is stolen, they have to forfeit the game. And when they learn that their next scheduled opponent, Milwaukee, has gone bankrupt, and their own team is broke, Dodge, in desperation, approaches wealthy businessman CC Frazier (Jonathan Pryce), with an idea. If they can offer Princeton University football star and war hero Carter BulletRutherford (John Krasinski) enough money to play for the Bulldogs, they could build a fan base, make money and create a real pro football league.

Since Frazier already sponsors Carter to sell his consumer products, he likes Dodge's idea and decides to back the team. At the same time, Lexie Littleton (ReneeZellweger), intrepid reporter for a Chicago newspaper, is tapped by her editor to get the real story on Carter Rutherford; he has a reliable source that swears Carter didn't actually get a platoon of German soldiers to surrender single-handedly. Lexie gets the real story, but what will happen to Carter, the Duluth Bulldogs, and the new pro league if she publishes it?

While this period piece boasts A-list stars and great production values, and while it certainly will be appreciated by pro football history buffs, there isn't enough material here for a film, and the screenplay is padded with some fairly boring filler including a fistfight between Dodge and Carter. The Clooney-Zellweger romance doesn't really click; there's not much chemistry between the two, and Krasinski's character is barely two-dimensional. Fans of Clooney, Zellweger and Krasinski should enjoy this, others may want to pass. 

Labels: comedy, drama, football, romance

Internet Movie Database
Metacritic 56/100
RottenTomatoes Averages (critics=58, viewers=60)

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