Review: George's Game Plan; Clooney's Fascination with Celebrity Culture and Journalistic Ethics Is Back in Leatherheads, but Is This Romantic Comedy Up to Scratch?
EVERYBODY loves George Clooney but public affection for the actor-writer-director-producer will be tested - though not too strenuously - by this uneven screwball comedy.
Leatherheads marks his third directorial outing, and is far lighter in tone than Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind or Good Night, And Good Luck, recalling the old-fashioned studio pictures which paired Spencer Tracy with Katharine Hepburn, or Clark Gable with Joan Crawford.
Clooney and Renee Zellweger are the standard bearers in this 1920s-set battle of the sexes, and there's an undeniable appeal to the characters' flirtatious banter.
However, screenwriters Duncan Brantley and Rick Reilly don't armtheir love-struck protagonists with enough snappy one-liners to maintain a brisk tempo.
Dialogue certainly warrants an appreciative smile ("Everything runs in your family, Ralph, except your feet") but rarely do these cute verbal exchanges approach the crescendo of, say, His Girl Friday, or It Happened One Night.
Crucially, the third point of the romantic triangle, a dashing poster boy played by John Krasinski, is a bit of a drip, who doesn't pose a realistic threat to Clooney's chances of sweeping the gal off her heels by the end credits.
With professional American football in the doldrums, veteran player Dodge Connelly (Clooney) realises the days of his team, the Duluth Bulldogs, are numbered.
So he seizes upon a novel idea: to recruit star Princeton athlete Carter Rutherford (Krasinski) to the squad. Carter is the regularly attracts crowds of 40,000 ardent fans, with a reputation as a war hero to boot.
His attendance would guarantee record gate receipts for the Bulldogs.
Dodge manages to sweet talk Rutherford's hard-nosed manager, CC Frazier (Jonathan Pryce), but is distracted by plucky reporter Lexie Littleton (Zellweger), who has been dispatched by her paper, The Chicago Tribune, to write a puff piece on the boy wonder. …