Tuesday, April 8, 2008


Occasional contributor William Andreassen checks in with some thoughts on George Clooney's Leadenheads...er, Leatherheads.

Put me in the "nay" camp for Leatherheads, a failed attempt at screwball farce. What I like to call the "comedy metronome" was way off in this one. Timing, so crucial to good comedy, was almost completely amiss from the opening scenes (when a confused cow is the most hilarious element in the film, you know you're in trouble). The rapid-fire exchanges were fewer than expected, and mild at that. No zip. Certainly not like any Preston Sturges I've ever seen. Clooney tries hard to evoke the spirit, but it comes off very heavy-handed. Much of the period flavor is there, but it mostly fizzles. And the editing was often amateurish. I was almost shouting at the screen, "Hey George, it would've been more effective to cut to..." Maybe I've seen too many movies. But then, so has Clooney. If he was trying for a Palm Beach Story sorta vibe..he needs to go back and absorb not just the structure of the film, but how kinetic the whole affair was. Again, timing. Maybe this sort of comedy genius is only relegated to certain artists?

The script, however, is what really does it in. The decision to take one of the subplots so seriously really derails any comedic rhythm the film could've had. It seems the writers wanted to make some STATEMENTS about integrity in sports (how timely), but this was the wrong vehicle in which to do it. Perhaps Ron Shelton should've tackled this project?

There are some good moments--a comical war flashback and a hotel lobby argument among the 3 principals had the sort of energy and sense of humor the remainder of the film lacked. The His Girl Friday-type homages with Zellweger worked far better in the Coens' Hudsucker Proxy, and Clooney himself nailed the old-time caraicatures infinitely better in O Brother, Where Art Thou. Krasinski was fine, but was only occasionally called upon to show his comedic talents. Mostly, he's just dour---a problem mainly with how his character was written.

So, no rec from me. Very disappointing.

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