Monday, October 06, 2008

Leatherheads: Grade F

Leatherheads (2008)
George Clooney, Renee Zellweger, John Krasinski; Director George Clooney.

The three principal actors attracted me to this movie, but even their combined charms did not redeem the rambling, 2 hour and 45 minute tale of professional football in the 1920’s. Clooney seems too old to be galavanting about as a professional football player. Krasinski (“Jim” from The Office) always seems ironic, even when he’s not supposed to be. Zellweger might have had some bad face work. She is stiff and not her formerly expressive self. Clooney hires superstar Krasinski from college football into the pros on the hope of reviving his failing pro team. Zellweger is a reporter sent to shoot down Krasinski’s star by trolling for dirt, which she finds during an improbable quasi-romantic moment.

Dialog is rapid-fire snappy lines and comebacks, which are childishly smart-alecky rather than funny. They may have been trying for the tone of the old screwball comedies, but they did not even achieve cleverness. The comedic scene with Clooney and Zellweger in the train’s sleeper car was so painfully corny I winced. The palette of the film is relentlessly sepia, which was pleasing at first, but became intrusive with its orange walls, walnut furniture, blonde hair, brown grass, yellow lighting, tweed costumes, brown leather, brown mud, red streets, dark interiors, etc. Was this tedious near-monochromaticity Clooney’s attempt to recapture the tone of O Brother Where Art Thou? Story realism dooms that approach here.

The film crawls toward the mandatory “big game” ending, at which nothing in particular is at stake, but the crowd goes wild, and that’s all that matters, apparently. I can’t even discern what goal the filmmakers were trying to achieve with this project, but whatever it was, no points go on the scoreboard.

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