Leatherheads (2008)


Our Rating: 4 out of 5

Reviewer: Rissi C.


From the trailer I knew this would be a must see, it just depended on whether it would be on the big screen or from the comfort of my own home. Opting for the longer wait, I saw continual teasers through the trailers which only made me the more anxious to see this film. Now all I had to determine, was it worth the wait ...


In 1925, college football is quite popular but something fans are only to willing to spend their quarters to see. It has been made especially memorable by the amazing talent of Carter “The Bullet” Rutherford (John Krasinski). Then there is pro football, which features the Duluth Bulldogs and is made up of a ragtag group of guys who don’t play, well, let’s just say “by the books." The Bulldogs are led by the incorrigible Dodge Connelly (George Clooney) who seems to be the only one that thinks he should still be playing football. Rounding out our leading characters is Lexi Littleton (Renee Zellweger), a newspaper gal sent to get the “dirt” on Carter – the paper has a witness disclaiming the fact that he’s a war hero. Dodge soon finds himself without any money and therefore a team, but not one to be put off; he manages to get Carter to play for them through his greedy manager (Jonathan Pryce). With the new team arrangements and Lexi determined to get her story and in so doing gaining a promotion, a series of events are set in motion which involve hilarity, rough n’ tumble football scuffles and surprisingly some poignant moments. Filled with enough comedy to keep its entire audience entertained in the hour and a half runtime, it’s suffice to say, Leatherheads was (and is) well worth the wait!


One of the best things about this film is its pretty clean; the main problem comes with some profanities and misuses of the Lord’s name. It comes in bunches when it’s most noticeable (such as near the end involving a radio broadcast). There are minor insinuations about our leading couple -- Lexi is always saying she has great legs in reference to why she’s the best reporter. Dodge and Lexi share a room on the train (they sleep separately). As was the case in 1920 and 30’s films there are numerous drunken scuffles at illegal taverns and several characters smoke, including Lexi. All in all everything is pretty mild. The good far outweighs anything negative in this fun comedy. The production sparkles in this 1920’s film; it has moments of absurd hilarity, romance and surprisingly poignant moments. As other reviewers have commented on this reminding one of past days when Grant and Hepburn were so often featured on the big screen, I have to agree. Clooney and Zellweger make an excellent pairing for this era; both of them portrayed their characters very well. Clooney’s Dodge was remarkably reminiscent of a Cary Grant character and played his character extremely well. This was my first introduction to Krasinski, but he too was very well cast as the hotshot young star who thought he had everything, but it was Zellweger who really shined as a 1920’s leading lady. She managed the role as well as any former leading lady and the role seemed to suit her, which is why it’s great to hear she is set to star in other such roles.


Clooney was not only in front of the camera, but he also directed this film and he along with producers did a superb job of giving this film the most authentic costumes, cinematography and props. Everything dazzles it’s viewer with 1920’s charm. There were such little things added that made the film all the more complete no matter how small (such as the price of a football ticket being only seventy-five cents, which we can’t even imagine!) or the old opening Universal logo. From the cars to Dodge’s motorbike, the automobiles were wonderfully chosen, the costumes were excellent; Lexi’s were both professional and lovely whenever out for the evening (her white gown was beautiful). I found it especially hilarious to see the old football costumes and the helmets, which is where the aptly named title came from. Some of the most comical moments come during football games and conversations between Lexi, Dodge and Carter, but one of the more laugh-out-loud sequences comes when Lexi and Dodge are trying to elude the police; the fact is it’s hard not to laugh at their escapade.


Despite all of its lighthearted material, Leatherheads does come with some deeper elements, which were surprising. Lexi faces the decision of whether or not she wants to get Carter’s real story, since she comes to care for him and the scene when Lexi is faced with choosing what her life could be rather than what it is, was particularly touching. Most of the film is filled with witty dialogue that only adds to this sparkling production. In particular the final scene is perfectly written in relation to its characters. Something else to be aware of is the fact that some characters lie in this film, the Bulldogs often cheat in winning a game and near the end another character is tricked; which in the long run gets everyone involved by those that have more power than they do. Eventually everything comes to fruition as we knew it would which includes a new NFL commissioner. The end is wrapped up fairly well and the ending credits show us pictures to giving the viewer a little bit more into the characters new lives. As with other such films in this era, it’s a delightful era to revisit and I for one am pleased to have seen; it’s a screwball of a comedy that reminisces days long past.