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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Rentable Today

posted by on September 23 at 11:04 AM


We got a copy of Leatherheads in the mail a week ago, presumably in anticipation of the movie’s release on DVD today. As is now public knowledge (Thanks, Lindy!), I am a huge Clooney whore, but I missed the movie when it was in theaters for three days last year, so I took the DVD home and watched it.

I don’t understand exactly how something with so many great ideas behind it can be so very dull. I love screwball comedies. I love con artist movies. I loved George Clooney’s other two directorial efforts. I tend to love movies set in Prohibition. But Leatherheads just kind of happened to me and then faded from my memory almost immediately.

Ostensibly the story of an aging football player (Clooney) recruiting a hot young football player (John Krasinski, who did not once look at the camera and raise his eyebrows knowingly—are you too good for us now that you’re in a big Hollywood movie, Krasinski? Is that it?) even as he falls in love with a plucky female reporter (Renée Zellweger, who made me miss Jennifer Jason Leigh in the Hudsucker Proxy so much that I hurt inside.) It’s also about the debut of rules in football.

There are some really funny moments, and some snappy dialogue here and there, but Leatherheads just kind of sits there for way too long. There aren’t nearly enough football scenes—and I say this as someone who hates football, but found the few game sequences in Leatherheads a lot of fun. If Clooney had taken the time to have writers go back over the script and massage some humor into more of the movie, it would’ve been a great farce. As it is, though, there are lots of tone problems: a scene involving a police raid on an illegal bar turns into a bad Keystone Cops homage, for instance, and a couple of the obligatory character-building scenes drag on forever with no humor or invention. It’s the kind of movie you watch when nothing at all is interesting, or you’re stuck on the plane with a bunch of bad options. For serious Clooney whores only.

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The problem was that Clooney did a lot of the writing. Maybe. Rick Reilly and Duncan Brantley had written the script over a decade ago, but Clooney alleged that he had rewritten everything in the movie save two scenes. He wanted writing credits and was denied, so he resigned from the WGA.

I'd read the original screenplay to see if he made it better or worse, but I doubt I'd be able to read a "screwball comedy" script well. And there's that thing where I don't care and all.

Posted by Mr. Poe | September 23, 2008 11:20 AM

Hey - that's exactly when I watched Leatherheads. On a plane. Stuck. I had meant to see it in the theater, but never got around to it.
I thought it was harmless, other than RZ, who squints and squeaks her way through everything - ruining it.

Posted by samesies | September 23, 2008 1:17 PM

80% of the problems with that movie were 1) the look, so sepia, so drab, and 2) the terrible score, also sad, and 3) Clooney looks old in it. He must have been working too hard. He looks great in BAR.

Posted by chris | September 23, 2008 6:29 PM

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