Since leaving ER George Clooney has spent an extraordinary amount of time working with Steven Soderbergh and Joel & Ethan Coen. These directors helped him not only ease from TV stardom to the filmic legend that he is now, but by working with these (and other) phenomenal filmmakers has turned George Clooney into a powerful director in his own right.
Clooney’s latest directorial turn is the throwback film Leatherheads which paints the picture of pre-NFL football where the men played for the love of the game and the majority of games ended in brawls between teams. As the trailer states: the game of professional football has come of age.
There are three primary stories the film tries to tell. The foremost is that of the love triangle between Clooney, Zellwegger, and Krasinski, and the rivalry that forms between the men based on football and their affection for Zellwegger. Also, there is Krasinski’s character who is the glorified college football star and former war hero whom all of America adores. This of course makes him the perfect target for Zellwegger’s ambitious journalist who is assigned the roll of dissecting his too perfect story. On top of all this is the complicated web of making the game of football into a professional (and legitimate) sport.
Leatherheads is a good movie, but it is not a great one. The problem is that this film tires to tackle too much and as such it suffers from pacing issues; it cannot decide exactly what to focus on and somehow manages to focus on nothing as much as it needs to.
However, this does not keep the film from being devoid of entertainment. The single most riveting thing about this movie (aside from the superb direction) is the witty banter and chemistry between Zellwegger and Clooney. Not since Carey Grant and Katherine Hepburn in The Philadelphia Story has dialogue been so sharp witted or enjoyable. The actors obviously enjoy the coupling and the dialogue flows like the perfect screwball comedies of the Hollywood golden age.
In the end Leatherheads deserved another trip to the writers room before landing on the big screen, but that doesn’t keep the tale from being one of the most enjoyable romantic, comedic romps in a long time.
Director: George Clooney
Writer: Duncan Brantley & Rick Reilly
Dodge: George Clooney
Lexie: Renee Zellwegger
Carter: John Krasinski