Thursday, January 01, 2009

Movie Log: Leatherheads

Leatherheads is a decent romantic comedy, and a solid attempt at a "manly" version of the same -- it's set in a man's world, among mostly men, and the romance is almost secondary. As you can probably guess from the cover, it's a story of the early years of professional football -- George Clooney plays Dodge Connally, the player-manager of a struggling team in the mid-20s, when college ball was respected and pro ball was barely better than a drunken fight in an alley.

Clooney directs himself, and does a decent job -- many actors, in the same situation, let the camera linger on their own gorgeous persons, or ensure that their character is the center of every scene and shot, and Clooney doesn't do that. (In fact, there's a point near the end where not knowing where Clooney is, specifically, is very important.)

Nearly everything I could say about Leatherheads would be on that level -- it's solid and professional, and does its job well, but it's not exceptionally well-done or memorable. John Krasinski is decent as the straight-arrow college All-Star who clashes with Clooney's Connally, and Renee Zellweger squints her way through her cliched role as the tough newspaper reporter Lexie Littleton. (She'd be a very attractive woman if she'd just open her eyes once in a while. Also, her delivery of the screwball-comedy style dialogue is authentically quick, but it doesn't quite work for her.)

It's probably best as a date movie: it's got something for both men (football, with a veneer of history as well) and women (the love story, men in tight football uniforms). It's not going to hit anyone's best-of-the-year lists, but it's a solid middle-of-the-road success.

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