Anyone who knows me knows I don’t know much about football, so I’ll just say Leatherheads fumbles a bit in the beginning but ultimately scores a touchdown.
That’s all the football talk I’ve got.
George Clooney directs this story about the sport’s early years. It’s 1925, and it’s a time in which college football’s everything, and professional football’s nothing.
Clooney stars as Dodge Connolly, a charming but scrappy football ol’ timer who is determined to guide the Duluth Bulldogs from bar brawls to packed stadiums. Only problem is no one really cares about them, not even their sponsor.
With the entire league facing certain collapse, Dodge convinces the golden boy of college football, Carter Rutherford (John Krasinski, a.k.a. Jim on TV’s The Office), a beloved war hero, to join his ragtag ranks.
But this hot shot Rutherford is almost too good to be true, and Chicago Tribune journalist Lexie Littleton (Renée Zellweger) is out to prove that’s the case.
While she digs up the dirt on this It Boy, the two teammates start to become serious off-field rivals for her fickle affections.
And as pro football becomes less like the freewheeling sport he knew and loved, Dodge must fight to keep his guys together and to get the girl of his dreams.
Leatherheads is far from perfect, but Clooney makes the movie work. It has a style that is hard to resist – like him, it’s charming, fun, and serious enough when it needs to be.
Zellweger, as we all know from Chicago and Down with Love, simply shines in period pieces that are all about sass, and Krasinski is perfectly cast as the dreamy up-and-comer to watch.
But the movie‘ first and third acts, with their slow setup and spotty conclusion, respectively, drop the ball – a little last minute football talk…ha! – but Leatherheads more than makes up for it with a thoroughly enjoyable…uhh…whatever’s football talk for the in-between.
My Rating ***
Photo: Universal Pictures.