It may be hard to believe, but there was a time when pro football was about as viable as pro lacrosse. (Sorry, Bayhawks fans.) Leatherheads is an affectionate look at that time. George Clooney, who also directs, plays Dodge Connelly, the aging running back of a cash-strapped professional football team in the 1920s. In an attempt to salvage the team, Dodge recruits Carter Rutherford (The Office’s John Krasinski), a Princeton running back, decorated war vet, and all around national hero. Fans start turning out in droves and professional football begins its slow, inevitable march toward world domination. But there’s a catch: Turns out Carter’s war heroics aren’t quite as heroic as he would have people think (according to national lore, he single-handedly took down a unit of Germans.) And the local paper sends out ace reporter Lexie Littleton (Renee Zellweger, looking fetching in flapper attire) to flirt with Carter and expose the truth. Of course, trading flirtateous barbs with the rascally Dodge also comes with the territory.
Clooney, Zellweger, and Krasinski all seem to be having a blast with their feather-light roles and their good moods rub off on the audience. Leatherheads would have been well served by a 20 minute trim and the would-be screwball comedy is never quite screwy enough, but it’s still a rather diverting way to spend a couple of hours.
I would be remiss, though, if I didn't say this: There is one scene in this film that seems to solely exist to show off how handsome Clooney is (not that I'm complaining). But if George Clooney had been a woman (I’ll pause to let you wrap your mind around that concept) and had directed herself in such a flattering light, she’d be excoriated for it. Then again, who can blame him? He’s George freakin’ Clooney. (And just for the record, I vastly prefer when handsome men acknowledge that they’re handsome, as opposed to going out of their way to muck up their looks just to prove what serious actors they are. Yeah, I’m talking to you, Brad Pitt and Jared Leto.)