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Clooney & Co. Hold That Tiger!

October 2, 2008

LEATHERHEADS (2008)
d. George Clooney 

Utterly charming. This film fairly oozes with charm and nostalgia for a bygone era — a time just before professional football became standardized with rules, a time when fast-talking career gals mixed it up with wise-cracking joes.

Clooney and the writers capture the essence of mid-20s lifestyle and present to us the perfect Hollywood idea of the Twenties much in the same way that Down With Love distilled the perfect idea of the early Sixties. Between this and O, Brother Where Art Thou?, Clooney needs to be in more period pieces. He clearly plays to his strengths in this movie — his face mugging like Cary Grant oft times to hilarious effect.

He is ably assisted by John Krasinski, from The Office, who plays a talented athlete burdened by a reputation as a war hero, and René Zellwegger who plays a fiesty screwball dame to perfection. The zingers are not as zippy as in classic screwball comedy, but they come one after another fast enough you might have to rewind to catch the banter. Dialogue especially comes alive in the scenes between René and George.

Not only do the story, acting and costumes help sell the period, but the rhythm of dialogue, the rhythm of editing and style of cutting reinforce the wrapper of a classic Hollywood comedy. And the music selections are all well chosen and enliven the film.

Oh yeah, and the football! What a great peek into the history of one of the most American of spectator sports. You definitely get a sense that there is a nostalgia tinged with sadness for the simplicity and sheer fun of early professional football before it became the over-commercialized rule-laden juggernaut it is today.

Three stars. Now someone tell me where I can get that motorcycle with sidecar!

Next up, Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains, an early Diane Lane flick. Chances are good that she gets nekkid in this one.

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