‘Leatherheads’ lacks any side-splitting comedy


Senior Reporter

With today’s multi-million dollar contracts, it’s hard to imagine a time when football was the laughing stock of professional sports. But such was the case in 1925, the backdrop for George Clooney’s latest film, “Leatherheads.”

Clooney stars as Jimmy “Dodge” Connelly, team captain for the Duluth Bulldogs, who sets out to legitimize professional football. Whereas fans came out in droves to support college teams, players on the brink of graduation scoffed at the thought of turning pro, a far cry from today’s players willing to leave college early to enter the NFL draft.

What the professional game lacked in the ’20s was a steadfast set of rules and money. Many teams were flat broke, leaving them no choice but to fold. 

Rather than just sitting back and letting the Bulldogs become a distant memory, Connelly recruits war hero turned college-golden-boy Carter “The Bullet” Rutherford (John Krasinski).

With a tip-off that Rutherford is not the war hero everyone proclaims he is, Chicago Sun-Times reporter Lexie Littleton (Renee Zellweger) is hot on his trail, placing her in the midst of a love triangle with the youthful Rutherford and the older Connelly.

In his third outing as director, Clooney brilliantly recreates the feel of a 1920s film, even using the vintage Universal logo in the opening credits.

As an actor, Clooney has established himself as one who appeals to audiences of all ages and, coupled with the old-time feel, the movie targets an older generation.

Fans of “The Office” have come to love Krasinki’s witty remarks as Jim Halpert, but “Leatherheads” puts that on the backburner. Instead of the funny guy, Rutherford is simply a football hero and humble war veteran.

Zellweger is no stranger to the role of a journalist — starring as one in both “Bridget Jones” movies — but faced a greater task this time around, as females in sports journalism were practically unheard of back then. She effectively showed the struggles for females in industry, doing whatever it took to get to the bottom of the story, even if it meant going beyond today’s ethical standards.

Marketed as a romantic comedy, the romantic storyline of “Leatherheads” is weak and the slapstick comedy feels out of place from the humor used in modern sports comedies, offering more of an occasional chuckle than side-splitting laughter.