From his casual charm to his cleft chin, George Clooney has frequently drawn comparisons to an actor of another age: Cary Grant. With his third directorial effort, the Oscar winner pays homage to the style of films that helped make Grant famous, such as BRINGING UP BABY and HIS GIRL FRIDAY. In 1925, when LEATHERHEADS takes place, professional American football is a joke, especially when compared to its more respected university cousin. Teams across the country are folding, and player Dodge Connelly (Clooney) will do anything to keep his own team, the Duluth Bulldogs, from going under. The enterprising (read: scheming) Dodge steals Princeton star and war hero Carter Ruthford (John Krasinski, THE OFFICE - AN AMERICAN WORKPLACE) from his school, and soon the Bulldogs are winning, but it's the game of football that is the real champion as fans pack the stadiums. Meanwhile, reporter Lexie Littleton (Renee Zellweger) begins investigating Rutherford's past, thanks to a tip from one of the star's old war buddies that he may not be all he seems. The pre-regulation American football is dirty, but it's far cleaner than the action when Dodge and Carter vie for Lexie's affections.
From the classic Universal logo that opens the film, Clooney firmly sets his film in the sepia-toned past. His lightning-fast dialogue is certainly reminiscent of the repartee between Grant and co-stars such as Katharine Hepburn and Rosalind Russell. But as much as he owes to the screwball comedies of the 1930s and '40s, he also is mining the same vein that his frequent collaborators, the Coen Brothers, did in films such as THE HUDSUCKER PROXY and INTOLERABLE CRUELTY. Clooney's previous directorial efforts--CONFESSIONS OF A DANGEROUS MIND and GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK--were also both stylish films set in the past, but LEATHERHEADS is a lighter, more mainstream work that contains a lot of fun to go with the flair.
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