Saturday, April 12, 2008

LEATHERHEADS - in which Clooney tosses up genres like so much confetti

If there's anything worse than a woman living alone, it's a woman saying she likes it.Yet another flaccid movie squelches its way into cinemas this weekend. In another directorial effort, George Clooney unsuccessfully splices together the under-dog sports genre, the screwball comedy and the 1960s sex comedy. He chooses to set the unhappy cocktail in prohibition-era America.

Clooney plays an ageing lothario struggling to keep his pro-football team above water in the era before mega-bucks sports. He does so by hiring a fantastically popular college player, who's a war hero to boot (John Krasinski from the US version of THE OFFICE - wasted in this role.) The old hand may be resentful of the young gun's newfangled methods, but he loves the massive increase in gate receipts. Problem is that a feisty investigative reporter (Renee Zellwegger) is trying to expose "The Bullet's" impressive war record as a hoax, as well as causing romantic jealousy all round.

The sports movie component of LEATHERHEADS is fairly thin. It's basically just a wry comment on the irony of getting what you wished for. In order to survive, the team bring about a mew commercial era, but that very commercialisation means an end to the good old rough-and-tumble of the sport they loved.

As for the rom-com element, I found it pretty weak. Sorry to sound ageist, but Renee Zellwegger is simply too old for the part and partly for that reason she has no chemistry with John Krasinski. It looks like Mrs Robinson's trying to mack onto the new kid, rather than a genuine love triangle with Clooney. I'm also a little bit tired of Zellwegger trying to pull off these Doris Day sex-comedy roles. Clooney desperately wants the banter between his and Zellwegger's character to be brilliantly witty, but it's obvious and flat. And, despite her feminist aspirations, Zellwegger's character rolls over annoyingly easily.

LEATHERHEADS is on release in the USA, UK, Ukraine, Canada, Estonia and Italy. It opens on April 23rd in France; in Argentina on May 8th; in Australia, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway and Sweden on May 30th; in Germany and Spain on June 5th and in Belgium on July 2nd.

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