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Academy Award winners George Clooney and Renée Zellweger team up in this fun-filled comedy set against the beginnings of pro football. Dodge Connelly (Clooney), captain of a struggling squad of barroom brawlers, has only one hope to save his team: recruit college superstar Carter Rutherford (John Krasinski, The Office). But when a feisty reporter (Zellweger) starts snooping around, she turns the two teammates into instant rivals and kicks off a wild competition filled with hilarious screwball antics! Critics are cheering Leatherheads as “a real winner” (Claudia Puig, USA Today).
Leatherheads is a sort of two-fisted homage, simultaneously celebrating the early, unstructured days of professional football and the screwball comedies of the 1930s and 40s. George Clooney stars as "Dodge" Connelly of the Duluth Bulldogs, a wily (if a bit long in the tooth) player whose team goes bankrupt. His solution is to lure a war hero and star of the college-football circuit, Carter "The Bullet" Rutherford (John Krasinski from the American version of The Office) to join the team and, through the sheer force of his celebrity, legitimize professional football. Little does Connelly know that Rutherford's war record is being scrutinized by reporter Lexie Littleton (Renee Zellweger) and what she uncovers may undermine the whole scheme. Leatherheads isn't seamless--at times the screwball flavor feels forced and Zellweger's performance is labored--but those few awkward elements only emphasize how zippy and fun the rest of the movie is. Clooney also directed and demonstrates some real flair with editing and letting the fringes of the story be as vital as the main plot. Krasinski, with his goofy handsomeness and a streak of Jimmy Stewart charm, shows real promise as a movie star. Though Leatherheads has plenty of broad slapstick (and most of it is pretty funny), the movie's real comic richness comes out in offhand gestures and sly revelations of character. All in all, it isn't Preston Sturges (director of classic comedies like The Lady Eve and The Palm Beach Story), but it's in his neighborhood, and that's a pretty wonderful neighborhood to be in. --Bret Fetzer
Stills from Leatherheads (Click for larger image)
Picture in Picture Visual Commentary with Director George Clooney and Producer Grant Heslov Feature Commentary with Director George Clooney and Producer Grant Heslov