Leatherheads marks George Clooney’s third try at both directing and starring in a feature film – after 2002’s Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and 2005’s Oscar-nominated Good Night, and Good Luck – which is considerably no easy task at all. Still, despite such a challenge as well as a promising, original storyline, his newest movie fails in its attempt to recreate that sense of screwball -humor and youthful spirit reminiscent of the early days of comedic filmmaking. I found myself unfortunately bored towards the end, as it felt that the premise of Leatherheads had begun to wear off within the first hour.
Clooney stars as Dodge Connelly, an aging football star living in the mid – 1920s Chicago area who foresees the financial collapse of his entire football league – that is, unless he can help bring profit back into the game. That profit, that pull of the audience, goes by the name of Carter Rutherford, a tall and handsome college football and war hero whom Connelly luckily bumps into and signs to his team on the spot.
Played by John Krasinski of the popular television series The Office, Rutherford single-handedly helps the league thrive at last. Nevertheless, the razor-sharp Lexie Littleton, a news reporter assigned to research the life of Carter Rutherford as played by the erratically beautiful Renee Zellwegger, recognizes that Rutherford might just be too good to be true. What’s more, Lexie becomes the source of affection for both Connelly and Rutherford, hence their friendly relationship soon enough dwindles about as quickly as the appeal for the movie itself does.
The film’s biggest flaw is its humor: there is very little of it, let alone any of the type of humor that I tend to laugh at. Although its comedic flavor is very old-fashioned (as it is attempting to reflect a sense of humor of the 1920s), this fact alone still cannot justify why, exactly, the laughs were so few and far between throughout Leatherheads. Clooney and Krasinski each had plenty of charm and wit to carry the movie for a while, yet they still could not carry my interest across the finish line for the end credits. Simply put, while it is advertised as a comedy, the film does not deserve such a designation. Superbad, this is not.
Nevertheless, the movie was far from terrible. The idea was great, the acting was fine and the sets were actually quite convincing; I did not doubt for a second that Connelly and the rest were playing old school Midwestern football. Clearly, there are worse movies out there. The only problem is that there are better ones out there, too. All in all, Leatherheads is mildly entertaining, but the movie was delayed for four months for a reason. The studios lacked faith in it for a reason. It’s just not that good. And for that, Leatherheads gets a thumbs down.