Screen Gems Movie Reviews
with Kennie Bass. You'll find it First On Fox!

Leatherheads April 4, 2008
Studio: Universal Pictures
Rating: PG-13 for brief strong language.

These days professional football is the most popular sport in America. But that wasn't always the case. "Leatherheads" takes us to an era in which the game was struggling to survive.

Set in 1925, the future of pro football is up in the air. Teams all across the country are folding at an alarming rate. Dodge Connelly (George Clooney) is determined both his beloved Duluth Bulldogs and the league will survive.

But the Bulldogs have no sponsor and no money. To save the team, Dodge comes up with the idea to recruit a big-time college star to play for Duluth.

But Carter Rutherford (John Krasinsky) is more than just a gridiron standout. He's also a war hero. Dodge manages to convince Carter to abandon Yale and join the pro ranks. But a problem in the form of newspaper reporter Lexie Littleton (Renee Zellweger) soon arrives on the scene. While sniffing around for a story she gets the attention of both men, leading them to battle for her affections.

"Leatherheads" has a fairly interesting plot about a little-known time in the pro game and some entertaining on-the-field action. But it never rises to the level of a great movie.

It wants to be like a classic, zany romantic farce that dominated screens in the 30s and 40s. But it just doesn't have that type of manic spark. Clooney, who doubles as the director, and Krasinski are great as the rival football stars. The other members of the team deliver interesting and amusing performances. However, Zellweger really doesn't bring much to the party. She's bland and a little lightweight. Designed to be a spitfire, Lexie comes off a little too meek and mild to make you believe she'd survive in the rough and tumble world of the roaring 20s.

A different actress might have propelled this film to greater heights. But when the casting is fumbled there is very little chance for a championship effort.

On my rating scale, "Leatherheads" earns a Double.

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