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George Clooney
George Clooney, Renée Zellweger, John Krasinskiin
Writing Credits:
Duncan Brantley, Rick Reilly

In 1925, an enterprising pro football player convinces America's too-good-to-be-true college football hero to play for his team and keep the league from going under.

Box Office:
$58 million.
Opening Weekend
$12,682,595 on 2769 screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated PG-13.

Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
French DTS 5.1
Spanish DTS 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 114 min.
Price: $9.98
Release Date: 9/23/2008

• Audio Commentary with Director/Actor George Clooney and Producer/Actor Grant Heslov
• “U-Control” Interactive Feature


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Sony UBP-X800 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Leatherheads [Blu-Ray] (2008)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 31, 2021)

Apparently George Clooney thought he could attract an audience to a romantic comedy set in the world of early professional football. Apparently George Clooney was wrong.

Even with himself and Renee Zellweger as the stars, 2008’s Leatherheads tanked. The flick grabbed

Set in 1925, Leatherheads shows the sport’s difficult early days. Though college football attracts big crowds, many fewer care about the pro game.

Clooney plays Dodge Connolly, the aging leader of the Duluth Bulldogs. When the league sinks, Dodge recruits college star/war hero Carter Rutherford (John Krasinski) to play for the Bulldogs and resuscitate the ailing pro game.

One problem: newspaper reporter Lexie Littleton (Zellweger) gets an assignment to do an exposé on Carter. It turns out he may not have executed too many heroics during World War I, so Lexie’s supposed to reveal the truth behind Carter’s much-heralded reputation. She pursues this, but along the way, she starts to fall for Carter.

This doesn’t sit well with Dodge, as he wants Lexie for himself. Dodge also doesn’t much like the fact that Carter’s popularity leaves him as an “also-ran” on his own team. The movie follows the fortunes of the love triangle as well as issues connected to the football team.

After his role in Steven Soderbergh’s The Good German, I thought Clooney might want to avoid movies that try to emulate the works of earlier efforts. While Leatherheads doesn’t go to the extremes found in that other flick, it does clearly attempt to capture the feel of an earlier period.

The film uses “screwball comedies” of the 1930s as its template. Anyone who suspects a strong kinship with His Girl Friday will probably smell that connection correctly.

I think that Leatherheads provides a more enjoyable experience than the failed experiment that was German, I can’t call it a satisfying piece of work. For one, it wears its influences too strongly on its sleeve.

As I mentioned, Friday stands as a rather obvious predecessor. Leatherheads wants desperately to stand up to it and the other classic screwball comedies.

It flops in that regard. Clooney and Zellweger do their best to replicate the fast-talking repartee of the earlier era, but their efforts seem forced and mannered. They get the basics right but they feel wrong.

I think both actors are talented and like them in general, but I just think they try too hard to be something that they’re not. Self-conscious throwbacks to earlier films rarely capture the period feel, and that issue dogs this flick.

A generally muddled tone also mars Leatherheads, as it never quite figures out what movie it wants to be. Is it a romantic comedy? Is it a tale about the maturation of pro football? Is it an exposé about lies and public deception?

I guess it’s all of the above, but it never connects with any of the subjects well enough to make them stick. The lack of concentration harms all the different domains. We don’t spend enough time on any area to care.

Will Dodge and Lexie end up together? Will the Bulldogs succeed? Who cares? I don’t, and I doubt many viewers will, either.

Indeed, Leatherheads suffers from a curious lack of energy. The screwball comedies succeeded partly because of their manic tones, as they zipped through their tales at a breakneck speed and caught the viewer up in their insanity.

That never threatens to happen here, and since the rest of the story lacks much to involve us, nothing brings us into the events.

That leaves Leatherheads as a passable diversion and nothing more. It boasts a good cast, and they manage to make things pleasant enough for us. They can’t turn this into an interesting flick, however.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B-/ Bonus B-

Leatherheads appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The film provided a satisfying transfer.

Overall sharpness looked strong. A few wider shots came across as slightly soft – such as in football stadiums – but most of the flick came with appealing accuracy.

I witnessed no signs of jagged edges or shimmering, and edge haloes failed to materialize. Source flaws also caused no concerns, as the flick remained clean and fresh at all times.

Leatherheads went with a stylized palette that cast everything in a golden hue that gave it a vintage amber tone. Within that range, the colors looked solid, as various reds and blues still came out well.

Blacks seemed deep and firm, while shadows provided nice clarity and delineation. This was a consistently positive presentation.

Though not as impressive, the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Leatherheads worked fine for the material. A romantic comedy at heart, the soundscape didn’t provide a lot of pizzazz.

Music demonstrated nice stereo imaging, and football games added a decent sense of place, though they failed to involve the viewer as much as expected. This was a forward-oriented mix that used the surrounds in a moderate manner, so the track provided acceptable involvement but not much more than that.

Audio quality seemed satisfying. Speech always appeared warm and natural, with no edginess or other issues. Music was lively and full, as the score showed solid reproduction.

Effects also boasted good clarity and definition, though they didn’t exactly push the auditory envelope. Overall, the soundtrack was perfectly acceptable for this sort of flick.

How did the Blu-ray compare to the DVD version? The lossless soundtrack appeared a bit warmer and more robust than its lossy DVD counterpart.

Visuals demonstrated the usual format-based improvements, as the Blu-ray seemed tighter and more natural. Though the DVD looked good, the BD worked better.

The Blu-ray’s extras begin with an audio commentary from director/actor George Clooney and producer/actor Grant Heslov. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific piece.

They discuss music, visual design and period details, sets and locations, cast and performances, some minor effects, script changes and reshoots, filming the football scenes, problems with the weather, influences, and a few other production issues.

Old pals Clooney and Heslov interact well, so their chemistry helps make this an entertaining piece. They throw out plenty of low-key bits of humor along with all the facts about the movie. I think they don’t quite reveal the project’s complicated history – it took forever to get to the screen and Clooney apparently did tons of uncredited script rewrites – but they do provide more than enough interesting notes and self-effacing cracks to make this a useful discussion.

Under U-Control, two components appear. First, “Video Commentary” allows us to see Clooney and Heslov nine times through the film.

These moments just offer a glimpse of the audio commentary sessions. They prove less than enlightening.

Of more interest, “Picture-in-Picture” brings a mix of footage from the shoot as well as interviews. We hear from Clooney, Heslov, screenwriters Duncan Brantley and Rick Reilly, producer Casey Silver, football consultant TJ Troup, railroad advisor Dr. Art Miller, assistant terminal superintendent Justin Meko, stunt coordinator George Aguilar, composer Randy Newman, dance consultant Jack Kelly, and actors Renee Zellweger, Stephen Root, Wayne Duvall, Matt Bushell, Tommy Hinkley, Nick Paonessa, Tim Griffin, Malcolm Goodwin, Robert Baker and Jonathan Pryce.

The remarks discuss story and characters, the project’s path to the screen, cast and performances, sets and locations, period elements, recreating the era’s football, music, and Clooney’s work as director.

We get a good overview of various production elements, though I admit I don’t love the picture-in-picture format. While I like the content, I’d prefer to just see this stuff in traditional featurettes.

Note that the Blu-ray loses extras from the DVD, as it included deleted scenes and a few featurettes. While some of the latter get incorporated into “U-Control”, we don’t get any cut footage, and some of the other material goes missing as well. It perplexes me that the Blu-ray omits anything from the DVD.

From start to finish, Leatherheads gives us a mediocre flick. Due to a good cast, we manage to maintain some interest in events, but not a whole lot, as the tale drags and doesn’t go anywhere. The Blu-ray provides fine visuals, good audio and some useful extras. I can’t complain about the quality of this disc, but the movie itself is a disappointment.

To rate this film, visit the prior review of LEATHERHEADS

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