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Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

Leatherheads (2008)
(2016 Reissue)


Starring: George Clooney, John Krasinski, Renée Zellweger, Jonathan Pryce, Stephen Root and Wayne Duvall
Distributor: Fabulous Films Ltd / Fremantle Media Enterprises
RRP: £19.99
Certificate: 12
Release Date: 25 April 2016

It's 1925 and "Dodge" Connelly is the captain of a struggling American football club. Determined to secure the future of Pro football he enlists the help of good looking Carter "the Bullet" Rutherford, who also happens to be a war hero, having single handedly captured a large group of German soldiers. Unfortunately, both men fall for ace reporter, Lexie Littleton and their rivalry will determine the future of Pro football…

Leatherheads (2008. 1 hr. 53 min 43 sec) is a screwball comedy directed by George Clooney, who substantially rewrote the original script by Duncan Brantley and Rick Reilly.

The cast is good and from the full length commentary with Clooney and Grant Helov, they had a hell of a time making the film. Unfortunately it was a financial and critical flop.

Part of the problem is where do you draw the line between homage to a past, well-loved genre, and just aping that genre, thereby making your film feel dated before it has even been shown. For Leatherheads the style is captured so well that it no longer feels like a film made in 2008.

A better example of how it should work would be the Coen Brothers 1994 film, The Hudsucker Proxy. Not only does it retain the feel good factor which both films have, it has the sense not to play it too straight with Jennifer Jason Leigh’s character, Amy Archer giving a performance which is just this side of a Katharine Hepburn parody to remain funny and resonate with the characters she played.

Leatherheads just does not have this level of necessary self-parody which would have attracted a modern audience, rather it attracted an audience in their fifties and sixties, not a group renowned for their cinema attendance.

The three main stars, George Clooney (Dodge), Renée Zellweger (Lexie) and John Krasinski (Rutherford) cannot be slated for their performances, the fault lies with Clooney’s script. Part of this may be the fact that the original script had lain in developmental hell for seventeen years before Clooney completely revamped it. Maybe its long time in the cold should have warned Clooney that it probably wasn’t a project worth pursuing.

The Blu-ray has a great print and audio options for English, Spanish and French 5.1 DTS-HD as well as subs for the same languages. As previously stated the only extra is the commentary.


Charles Packer

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