Only in Hollywood could a middle aged man be still playing professional sports, be broke and still get the much younger pretty girl but, hey, we can all dream can't we? I don't mind making these leaps with Clooney et al. but when the whole things feels like it is forced and trying too hard that is when I lose interest.
Dodge Connelly (George Clooney, Good Night, And Good Luck, Syriana) has been playing professional football his whole adult life. He has never had a real job. It is just post World War I and the state of professional football is pretty sad. Players are not paid very much, not many fans attend the games and many teams fold due to bankruptcy. When Dodge finds out his team is going to fold he tries to come up with a scheme to save the team.
Dodge meets up with old acquaintance CC Frazier (Jonathan Pryce – Evita, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End), who is acting as the agent for Princeton football star and war hero Carter Rutherford (John Krasinski – from television's The Office). Dodge offers CC a guarantee of $5,000 per game for Carter and a percentage of the gate for himself if Carter will join Dodge's Duluth Bulldogs. The greedy CC jumps at the opportunity to make this kind of money.
A fly is thrown into the ointment when Chicago Tribune reporter Lexis Littelton (Renée Zellweger – Chicago, Cold Mountain) is assigned to write a story about Carter Rutherford that will prove that he is not the war hero he claims to be. She is going to be trouble with a capital "T". Soon the two football players will be more concerned about gaining Miss Littleton's affections than playing football.
Most folks have been seduced by the twinkle in George Clooney eye and his crooked smile. These two attributes can only take you so far, I say. With this film Clooney has passed his limits. I am not convinced that comedy is in his wheelhouse. He is quite hammy in the role and even awkward at times. In this attempt at a old time screwball comedy timing and believability is everything. If you don't have it the film and jokes fall flat. On the positive side, Renée Zellweger does a fine enough job as the femme fatale and she and Clooney have a nice chemistry.
The film seemed to go no where. Despite the fact that I really wanted to like the film it ended up being unlikable. Most of the problem was with the script and that is poorly written. Many of the jokes and one liners have a recycled (I can't say stolen, can I?) feel to them. We've seen them all before in older films and done better at that.
Apparently Clooney has had this script in his possession since the 1980s and maybe he should have thought long and hard about why it had not been made before now before he agreed to do it. As director of the film he tried to rescue it by filming it beautifully but nothing he could do was going to save this Hail Mary.
– Football's Beginning: The Making of Leatherheads
– No Pads, No Fear: Creating the Rowdy Football Scenes
– George Clooney: A Leatherheads Prankster
– Visual Effects Sequences