Leatherheads (2008)

(In-flight, August 2008) I had good hopes for this film: I’m fond of screwball comedies, and well-disposed toward George Clooney’s work. But while Leatherheads isn’t objectively bad, it does lack a crucial spark of interest and that emptiness seems only more damning in a genre that seems to difficult to screw up. The late-twenties era is credibly recreated, but it’s more difficult to pin down the genre of this film as it reaches for football, comedy, romance and war stories journalism. Both Clooney and Renée Zellweger are fine as the leads, but “fine” is as far as it goes: the script seems unable to bring up the energy level of the picture to what we could expect: only a mid-film sequence featuring them escaping from an illicit bar seems to tap into the possibilities of the concept. Otherwise, it’s a mildly amusing film without highlights, but so well-intentioned that it’s difficult to be mad at it. Old-fashioned to a fault, it manages to be disappointing without being frustrating.

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