'Leatherheads' A bankrupt football team plots a comeback; a bulldog reporter's big scoop could doom it. The period look is just right, but George Clooney's romantic comedy wants to capture that Cary Grant-Roz Russell snap, and for that its pacing is all wrong.

Review

Culture

'Leatherheads'

Dodge Connolly (George Clooney), captain of pro football's toothless Bulldogs, is determined to win both games and the country's attention. Melinda Sue Gordon/Universal Studios hide caption

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Melinda Sue Gordon/Universal Studios

Dodge Connolly (George Clooney), captain of pro football's toothless Bulldogs, is determined to win both games and the country's attention.

Melinda Sue Gordon/Universal Studios
  • Director: George Clooney
  • Genre: Romantic Comedy
  • Running Time: 114 minutes

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It's easy enough to see what George Clooney thinks he's doing in this '30s-style movie about '20s pro football, but you can't help wishing he'd do it a little quicker.

The story, about a bankrupt football team and the femme reporter whose big scoop could doom their big comeback, means to be a comedy of the sort in which Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell used to trade wisecracks. As director, Clooney gets the details right — deco settings, roaring trains, period autos, all in sepia. But while Clooney (as an aging ballplayer) and Renee Zellwegger (as the reporter) manage to get their mouths around the quips, the pacing's all wrong.

There are some nice fistfights, some cute byplay between the stars and a football game on a muddy field that looks like it must've been murder to film. Alas, the plot's big finish — something about an illegal play and comeuppance for a war hero (James Krasinski) who wasn't all that heroic — is muddy enough to be all but incoherent.