A romantic comedy set against the backdrop of America's nascent pro-football league in 1925. Dodge Connolly, a charming, brash football hero, is determined to guide his team from bar brawls to packed stadiums. But after the players lose their sponsor and the entire league faces certain collapse, Dodge convinces a college football star to join his ragtag ranks. The captain hopes his latest move will help the struggling sport finally capture the country's attention. Welcome to the team Carter Rutherford, America's favorite son. A golden-boy war hero who single-handedly forced multiple German soldiers to surrender in WWI, Carter has dashing good looks and unparalleled speed on the field. This new champ is almost too good to be true, and Lexie Littleton aims to prove that's the case. A cub journalist playing in the big leagues, Lexie is a spitfire newswoman who suspects there are holes in Carter's war story. But while she digs, the two teammates start to become serious off-field rivals ...Written by
OK film but lacks the spark and fun that the trimmings suggest it should have
Like a lot of people, I never bothered with this film when it came out in the cinemas because of the negative reviews that it got. Likewsie when it came to DVD it sat at the bottom end of my rental list waiting for me to want to watch it. Eventually I did and initially I thought that the reviews had been unfairly harsh because the film seemed like it was going to be a light and sparky sports period piece that captures the screwball comedies of years gone by. This is how it starts but unfortunately it is not how it continues. It is not like, at some point the film suddenly gets "bad" (it doesn't) but more that it doesn't quite have the sparkle or life that the trimmings all suggest that it will.
In terms of capturing the period, it does a great job – or at least it does a great job of continuing the nostalgic idea of the period. It does this with a cool jazz soundtrack, good costumes and the suggestion of the snappy dialogue that the screwball movies are known for. I say suggestion because of the places where the film doesn't have the zing that it needed is in the script. It does have its moments though and it is quite fun at times but mostly it feels like it is just falling short of where it should be. It has a couple of things that don't help this either. Firstly it is too long, maybe not for the plot (it doesn't "drag" per se) but certainly for the light tone. Secondly, the romance aspect of the plot doesn't really work, which is partly down to the casting of Zellweger.
Where Clooney fits the bill as a "too-cute by half" square-jawed matinée star, Zellweger cannot convincingly deliver her lines in a way that works. I think of Jennifer Jason Leigh in Hudsucker Proxy – she did an impression of an actress in a screwball comedy that was pretty good and looking at that shows up how ill-suited Zellweger is. I know people dislike her on principle but I am not one of them, I just thought she was pretty poor here. Krasinski is good in his role even if, to be frank, he didn't do anything that suggested he has more than the range of characterisation that he has already shown on The Office – and that should be of concern to his "people" since he will soon need to breakout of that show as it cannot run forever. The supporting cast has plenty of interesting and recognisable faces who do solid work.
Leatherheads is not a terrible comedy as some have suggested and it should not be criticised for being inconsequential or light. Sadly though it is not frothy, sparky or fun enough to be the film that it was clearly intended to be. OK there are specific issues with aspects of the plot and some (well, one) bit of casting but generally this bigger picture problem is what limits it to be an "OK" film but no better than that.
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