Friday, April 11, 2008

Leatherheads: A Four-Sentence Movie Review

While promoting The Good German on The Daily Show two years ago, I recall George Clooney raving about all of the old-fashioned techniques and equipment - lens, lights, microphones, etc. - Steven Soderbergh employed to make his film appear as authentically 1940s as he could, to which Jon Stewart said, "I have one question for you: Why?"

Clooney doesn't take that gimmick quite so far with Leatherheads, though he's certainly trying to capture the feel and spirit of 1930s screwball comedies with formulaic set-up/joke dialogue, much of it carried by a roguishly charming man and a brassy dame serving and volleying quips back and forth like a tennis match. Clooney manages to re-create the type of zany comedy that just doesn't get made anymore, but while it's entertaining enough with three well-cast leads (Clooney and Renee Zellweger actually seem perfect for their roles), but it also feels like he's trying so hard to give the movie a certain tone and style that it makes the story far less substantial than it could've been.

This actually is kind of a similar movie to Eight Men Out in terms of showing how money can affect athletes and poison motives that were presumably pure, thus requiring a sport to incorporate rules and authority figures to maintain the pretense of fair play and professionalism in the name of commerce, but tackling heavier, far more complicated subjects like that would get in the way of slapstick chases and the romance they can lead to.