Friday, April 4, 2008
Leatherheads, directed by and starring George Clooney, is about the origins of professional football. Carter Rutherford, played by John Krasinski, is a college football great as well as a war hero. George Clooney is Dodge Connelly, an aging pro football player who's team is about to go bankrupt. Renée Zellweger is the reporter who is out the find the truth in Carter's war stories. And all of them get together to film a painfully boring movie.
Leatherheads had a few notable points, but only a few. First of all, the casting was very good. All of the people involved had old fashioned good looks. Not that you'd notice it in The Office, but Krasinski looks like he was made for his role as Carter Rutherford. Of course Clooney is a traditional good looking guy, but the supporting cast was just as perfect. They all looked like they belonged in the 20s. Secondly, the music was spot on. Randy Newman (who has a cameo as a bar room piano player during the brawl) composed all of the music and it doesn't just fit the environments, it creates them. In Leatherheads, the music is often the final touch that really puts everything together.
One of the things that Leatherheads clearly has going for it is Clooney's ability as a director to make a movie that is believably set in a specific time. His previous attempt at directing, Good Night, And Good Luck, was a fine movie that really made you think it was made in the 50s. Leatherheads goes a back a few more decades to the Roaring Twenties where alcohol is outlawed and you can't say "Jesus" on the radio. This time, Clooney really goes overboard with the duplication of a 1920s movie. We see goofy slapstick humor coupled with awful jokes, neither of which make us laugh. Like when Clooney and Zellweger are being chased by cops. Clooney slams a door in their face, then opens it back up to find them all sprawled on the ground. The two of them hide behind the closed door and re-emerge donning police uniforms. This is completely pointless as they don't try to fool anyone into thinking they're cops. They just wanted to put on a new costume. It's stupid things like this that hearken back to 1920s comedy but it just doesn't hold up in the 21st century.
When Leatherheads isn't trying to be a comedy, it's trying to be a romance, or maybe a sports movie, but it unfortunately fails at all of them. It doesn't help that I think Zellweger is despicable and hideous, but nonetheless, watching both Krasinski and Clooney fight over her was petty and dull. I can enjoy a good love story every now and then, but even my wife was bored to tears during the dance scene in the speakeasy. And as far as sports movies go, Leatherheads only featured one game that even the announcers said was the most boring game they'd ever seen. Other than that, it was just a couple montages with a lot of sepia-toned still photographs.
Aside from being utterly lifeless, the big drawback to Leatherheads was the dialogue between Zellweger and Clooney. Listening to the two of them go back and forth was unimpressive. Their sharp-tongued banter was contrived and it was readily apparent that they were reading from a script. Admittedly, it sounded like something right out of a cheesy 20s movie. But we've come such a long way in filmmaking, there's no need to write such horrid dialogue anymore.
I can't really imagine what type of person Leatherheads would appeal to. There's not enough sports moments to invigorate the football fans, the romance is too little and too lame to captivate the lovebirds, and the comedy just falls flat. Maybe someone who's looking for a reimagining of 80 to 90 year old movies would enjoy Leatherheads. Otherwise, stay away from it.