Reviewed by: Mia J. Best
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|Producer||George Clooney, Barbara A. Hall, Grant Heslov, Casey Silver, Jeffrey Silver|
“In the beginning the rules were simple. There weren't any.”
Set in the Roaring Twenties, Leatherheads is a throwback to classic romantic comedies. Rapid-fire dialogue, George Clooney’s charisma and the comedic timing of Renée Zellweger blend to create a funny and entertaining film. Clooney produces, directs and stars in the film. His turn as DODGE CONNOLLY, the captain of the Duluth Bulldogs is full of charm and smarm.
With professional football about to become extinct in its infancy DODGE makes a play to save the league and save his own hide from certain starvation by convincing CARTER (THE BULLET) RUTHERFORD to leave Princeton and play for the Bulldogs for a large salary and percentage of the ticket sales. CARTER’s presence brings thousands of fans, commercial endorsements and scandal. Apparently CARTER’s stint in the war was not as heroic as reported. LEXIE LITTLETON (Zellweger), an ambitious spitfire female reporter from the Chicago Tribune, is determined to uncover the truth.
CARTER and DODGE become teammates on the field but opponents on the sidelines as they both vie for LEXIE’s affections.
Clooney has often been called the Cary Grant of this generation and Leatherheads affirms that claim all the more. Zellweger is a perfect fit for her role, which will draw comparisons to Rosalind Russell’s portrayal of Hildy Johnson, another quick-witted female reporter, in HIS GIRL FRIDAY. Clooney and Zellweger don’t smolder on screen as love interests but they do display a comfort and ease with one another that matches the tone of the film.
Though the dialogue is quick, the film moves at a moderate pace, but that is part of the film’s appeal. Everything wasn’t frenetic, frenzied and fast but rather a mid-tempo with fast breaks strategically placed. Even the pacing of the fight scenes was presented comically.
For example, DODGE got in a confrontation with a soldier in a speakeasy. The soldier called him a grandpa. For a moment, DODGE and all the action paused for a few seconds—no dialogue, just reaction time. Then, with a quick cut, the film jumps to everyone fighting in a full bar brawl. In the middle of the fight, DODGE realizes he knows one of the soldiers he was fighting with and they begin talking calmly. The soldier agrees to cooperate with another of DODGE’s schemes while everyone else continues to fight. Even though there are plenty of fight scenes and bottles broken over people’s heads, no blood is ever shown.
Lexie says, “It’s 1925, there are no rules.” What rules did exist at the time were broken. Selling alcohol was forbidden but most of the characters, including a young boy, went to a speakeasies for alcohol, gambling and questionable liaisons with the opposite sex. And DODGE even took a drink of whisky rather than water during a break in a football game.
DODGE specializes in breaking the rules both on and off the field. So when professional football gets a commissioner who enforces rules of play, DODGE lives up to his name to avoid them. The Bible says in 2 Timothy 2:5 that “an athlete who refuses to play by the rules will never get anywhere.
Often, we are tempted to cover up the truth like CARTER to save ourselves or someone else of embarrassment or legal woes. But the Bible says in Proverbs 28:18 (God’s Word),
“Whoever covers over his sins does not prosper. Whoever confesses and abandons them receives compassion.”
Overall, I would recommend this movie for adults for its movie making quality and entertainment value. However, there is profanity in the film, and the Lord’s name is used in vain at different points throughout the movie. I would not recommend this movie for children due to the profanity, children in the film drinking and smoking and the sexual innuendo.
Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Mild
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.