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UNIVERSAL

MOVIE INFO

Director:
George Clooney
Cast:
George Clooney, Renée Zellweger, John Krasinski, Jonathan Pryce, Stephen Root, Wayne Duvall, Keith Loneker, Malcolm Goodwin
Writing Credits:
Duncan Brantley, Rick Reilly

Tagline:
In the beginning, the rules were simple. There weren't any.

Synopsis:
Academy Award® winners George Clooney and Renée Zellweger team up in this fun-filled comedy set against the beginnings of pro football. Dodge Connelly (Clooney), captain of a struggling squad of barroom brawlers, has only one hope to save his team: recruit college superstar Carter Rutherford (John Krasinski). But when a feisty reporter (Zellweger) starts snooping around, she turns the two teammates into instant rivals and kicks off a wild competition filled with hilarious screwball antics! Critics are cheering Leatherheads as "a real winner" (Claudia Puig, USA Today).

Box Office:
Budget
$58 million.
Opening Weekend
$12.682 million on 2769 screens.
Domestic Gross
$31.199 million.

MPAA:
Rated PG-13

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 1.85:1/16X9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
French
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French

Runtime: 114 min.
Price: $29.98
Release Date: 9/23/2008

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Director/Actor George Clooney and Producer/Actor Grant Heslov
• Deleted Scenes
• “Football’s Beginning: The Making of Leatherheads” Featurette
• “No Pads, No Fear: Creating the Rowdy Football Scenes” Featurette
• “George Clooney: A Leatherheaded Prankster” Featurette
• Visual Effects Sequences
• Previews


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RELATED REVIEWS


Leatherheads (2008)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 24, 2008)

Apparently George Clooney thought he could attract an audience to a romantic comedy set in the world of early professional football. Apparently George Clooney was wrong. Even with himself and Renee Zellweger as the stars, 2008’s Leatherheads tanked. The flick grabbed $31 million and failed to impact with the public.

Set in 1925, Leatherheads shows the sport’s difficult early days. Though college football attracts big crowds, many fewer care about the pro game. Clooney plays Dodge Connolly, the aging leader of the Duluth Bulldogs. When the league sinks, Dodge recruits college star/war hero Carter Rutherford (John Krasinski) to play for the Bulldogs and resuscitate the ailing pro game.

One problem: newspaper reporter Lexie Littleton (Zellweger) gets an assignment to do an exposé on Carter. It turns out he may not have executed too many heroics during World War I, so Lexie’s supposed to reveal the truth behind Carter’s much-heralded reputation. She pursues this, but along the way, she starts to fall for Carter.

This doesn’t sit well with Dodge, as he wants Lexie for himself. Dodge also doesn’t much like the fact that Carter’s popularity leaves him as an “also-ran” on his own team. The movie follows the fortunes of the love triangle as well as issues connected to the football team.

After his role in Steven Soderbergh’s The Good German, I thought Clooney might want to avoid movies that try to emulate the works of earlier efforts. While Leatherheads doesn’t go to the extremes found in that other flick, it does clearly attempt to capture the feel of an earlier period. The film uses “screwball comedies” of the 1930s as its template, and anyone who suspects a strong kinship with His Girl Friday will probably smell that connection correctly.

I think that Leatherheads provides a more enjoyable experience than the failed experiment that was German, I can’t call it a satisfying piece of work. For one, it wears its influences too strongly on its sleeve. As I mentioned, Friday stands as a rather obvious predecessor, and Leatherheads wants desperately to stand up to it and the other classic screwball comedies.

It flops in that regard. Clooney and Zellweger do their best to replicate the fast-talking repartee of the earlier era, but their efforts feel forced and mannered. They get the basics right but they feel wrong. I think both actors are talented and like them in general; I just think they try too hard to be something that they’re not. Self-conscious throwbacks to earlier films rarely capture the period feel, and that issue dogs this flick.

A generally muddled tone also mars Leatherheads, as it never quite figures out what movie it wants to be. Is it a romantic comedy? Is it a tale about the maturation of pro football? Is it an exposé about lies and public deception?

I guess it’s all of the above, but it never connects with any of the subjects well enough to make them stick. The lack of concentration harms all the different domains. We don’t spend enough time on any area to care. Will Dodge and Lexie end up together? Will the Bulldogs succeed? Who cares? I don’t, and I doubt many viewers will, either.

Indeed, Leatherheads suffers from a curious lack of energy. The screwball comedies succeeded partly because of their manic tones; they zipped through their tales at a breakneck speed and caught the viewer up in their insanity. That never threatens to happen here, and since the rest of the story lacks much to involve us, nothing brings us into the events.

That leaves Leatherheads as a passable diversion and nothing more. It boasts a good cast, and they manage to make things pleasant enough for us. They can’t turn this into an interesting flick, however.


The DVD Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B-/ Bonus B-

Leatherheads appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The film provided an eminently satisfying transfer.

At all times, sharpness looked excellent. All parts of the movie displayed solid clarity and definition. I witnessed no signs of jagged edges or shimmering, and edge enhancement failed to materialize. Source flaws also caused no concerns, as the flick remained clean and fresh at all times.

Like virtually all period pieces, Leatherheads went with a stylized palette. The flick cast everything in a golden hue that gave it a vintage amber tone. Within that range, the colors looked solid, as various reds and blues still came out well. Blacks seemed deep and firm, while shadows provided nice clarity and delineation. This was a consistently positive presentation.

Though not as impressive, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Leatherheads worked fine for the material. A romantic comedy at heart, the soundscape didn’t provide a lot of pizzazz. Music demonstrated nice stereo imaging, and football games added a decent sense of place, though they failed to involve the viewer as much as expected. This was a forward-oriented mix that used the surrounds in a moderate manner; the track provided acceptable involvement but not much more than that.

Audio quality seemed satisfying. Speech always appeared warm and natural, with no edginess or other issues. Music was lively and full, as the score showed solid reproduction. Effects also boasted good clarity and definition, though they didn’t exactly push the auditory envelope. Overall, the soundtrack was perfectly acceptable for this sort of flick.

When we head to the set’s extras, we open with an audio commentary from director/actor George Clooney and producer/actor Grant Heslov. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific piece. They discuss music, visual design and period details, sets and locations, cast and performances, some minor effects, script changes and reshoots, filming the football scenes, problems with the weather, influences, and a few other production issues.

Old pals Clooney and Heslov interact well, so their chemistry helps make this an entertaining piece. They throw out plenty of low-key bits of humor along with all the facts about the movie. I think they don’t quite reveal the project’s complicated history – it took forever to get to the screen and Clooney apparently did tons of uncredited script rewrites – but they do provide more than enough interesting notes and self-effacing cracks to make this a useful discussion.

10 Deleted Scenes run a total of eight minutes, eight seconds. Most of these provide brief tidbits that lack much substance. We do get to see the scene mentioned in the commentary during which a bulldog humps Clooney’s leg – and does so woefully ineffectively, as the pooch in question’s unit never comes within a foot of Clooney. The snippets are insubstantial but interesting.

The only extended cut scene shows a train-based chat among Lexie, Dodge and Carter. This one looks a little more at Dodge’s service during WWI, and it shows CC to be a ladies man. The sequence is amusing if for no reason other than the sight of notorious womanizer Clooney’s envy at Jonathan Pryce’s skills with the fairer sex. In an odd twist, the scene appears twice, but the second iteration lops out CC’s pursuit of a female passenger. That alteration means that Dodge’s comment that CC’s using his berth makes no sense.

After this we find some featurettes. Football’s Beginning: The Making of Leatherheads goes for six minutes, 16 seconds and includes remarks from Clooney, Heslov, producer Casey Silver, screenwriters Duncan Brantley and Rick Reilly, and actors John Krasinski and Renee Zellweger. “Beginning” looks at the project’s real-life inspirations and path to the screen, production design and period details, sets and locations, visual effects, the flick’s screwball comedy inspirations and style, and some scene specifics.

“Beginning” straddles the line between informative program and promotional puff piece. While it does exist to hype the flick, it still manages to produce a few good details. Granted, most of these already appear in the commentary, but this remains a decent show.

No Pads, No Fear: Creating the Rowdy Football Scenes lasts nine minutes, 13 seconds as it features Clooney, Krasinski, football consultant Coach TJ Troup, stunt coordinator George Aguilar, and actors Matt Bushell, Tommy Hinkley, Nick Paonessa, Tim Griffin, Malcolm Goodwin, and Robert Baker. “Pads” shows how the film recreated the football of the 1920s. It offers a nice recap of the actors’ training and the ways the movie attempted to provide authentic football scenes.

For the three-minute and 30-second George Clooney: A Leatherheaded Prankster, we get notes from Baker, Clooney, and Heslov. It shows a practical joke Clooney played on the set. It’s mildly amusing at best.

Next come some Visual Effects Sequences. These fill a total of five minutes, 32 seconds, and they start with some notes from Heslov and Clooney. The clips allow us to compare the original photography to the shots with finished visual effects. The movie used CG to flesh out the period settings, so this reel lets us get a good look at the changes.

The DVD opens with a few ads. We get promos for Baby Mama, The Office Season Four, The Scorpion King: Rise of a Warrior and Billy Elliott: The Musical. No trailer for Leatherheads appears here.

From start to finish, Leatherheads gives us a mediocre flick. Due to a good cast, we manage to maintain some interest in events, but not a whole lot, as the tale drags and doesn’t go anywhere. The DVD provides excellent visuals, good audio and some useful extras. I can’t complain about the quality of this disc, but the movie itself is a disappointment.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2.2857 Stars Number of Votes: 7
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