Leatherheads (2008)

Genre(s): Comedy / Sports
Universal || PG13 - 114 minutes - $29.98 || September 23, 2008
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2008-11-10

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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.

.:: A U D I O ::.

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Director: George Clooney
Writer(s): Duncan Brantley & Rick Reilly (written by)
Cast: George Clooney, Renee Zellweger, John Krasinski, Jonathan Pryce

Theatrical Release Date: April 4, 2008

Supplemental Material:
  • Feature Commmentary
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Football's Beginning: The Making of Leatherheads
  • No Pads, No Fear: Creating the Rowdy Football Scenes
  • George Clooney: A Leatherhead Prankster
  • Visual Effects Sequences

Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (1.85)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

I think the best summary I can give for Leatherheads is this: When Hollywood stars’ pet projects disappoint.

Hollywood mega-star George Clooney stars and directs a film about pro football before it really was professional. Clooney plays Dodge Connelly, a football player who doesn’t know how to do anything else. He plays for the Duluth Bulldogs, a rag tag team in a football league quickly going down the drain as others run out of money... and so are the Bulldogs. He finds only one way to reenergize his team, by getting a young hot shot athlete named Carter Rutherford (Krasinski; TV’s “The Office”), who is a national sensation and a genuine war hero to boot.

Entering the fray is Lexie Littleton, a reporter who has been assigned to prove that Carter in fact is not a war hero and his story is mere fabrication (based off of a soldier who served with Carter).

And there you have it, the oh so basic premise that after nearly two hours felt like it was going absolutely nowhere. That’s the fatal flaw with Leatherheads as a whole because otherwise this is actually a pretty good, technically speaking, movie. Clooney’s style is very nice and appealing not getting cute with camera angles and just shoots it straight while Randy Newman’s score perfectly reflects the times of the 1920s as does James Bissell’s production design. Bissell previously worked on 300, The Spiderwick Chronicles and Good Night and Good Luck (also directed by Clooney).

No, the biggest problem Leatherheads has nothing to do with the technical aspects and instead the screenplay was in need of some rewrites. Written by Duncan Brantley and sports writer Rick Reilly, the duo tried to give a glimpse at the early days of what would become the NFL, and for that it works, but at the same time the rest of the story, including a romance between Clooney and Zellweger, doesn’t hold water and quickly falls apart.

I personally found myself looking at the clock counting down to the film’s end because despite the good performances from George Clooney and Renee Zellweger (Krasinski seemed almost to be playing Jim from “The Office) and some fantastic Oscar-nomination worthy production design, the screenplay was the obvious weak link and that’s a shame.

Leatherheads is a film that will be and to be honest, should be forgotten and normally I’d be OK with that, but when you have someone as talented as George Clooney in front of and behind the camera, it’s nothing less than a disappointment. Maybe those who are interested in the history of pro football might find value here; others will find is average and once the film is done, move on to something else.


Feature Commentary – Director/Star George Clooney and Producer Grant Heslov sits down for an informative commentary. If you listened to their commentary on Good Night and Good Luck, you basically get the same kind of info and conversation.

The disc also includes a few deleted scenes (8:08); an interesting featurette on the Visual Effects Sequences (5:32); a segment called George Clooney: A Leatherhead Prankster (3:31) where Clooney, known for his pranks, sets up a few members of the cast; Football’s Beginning: The Making of Leatherheads (6:15) takes a look at the source material to building sets and costume design; and No Pads, No Fear: Creating the Rowdy Football Scenes (9:12) which sets up the training and getting the scenes right for the time.


The film is presented in anamorphic widescreen with its original 1.85 AR. A good portion of the movie has a brownish tint since it takes place in the 1920s, but the picture looks clean and void of any artifacts.

Universal offers up a Dolby Digital 5.1 track in English, French and Spanish. It’s really only Randy Newman’s score that comes through while the center channel is used for the dialogue.


Leatherheads simply put, is a forgettable movie. I admire Clooney for trying something new and bringing up an interesting time in football’s history, but the story never quite gels together despite a good cast.