Year Released: 2008
Directed by: George Clooney
Starring: George Clooney, Renee Zellweger, John Krasinski
(PG-13, 114 min.)
"Fighting is essentially a masculine idea; a woman’s weapon is her tongue." Hermione Gingold
Are you addicted to car chases, fiery explosions, and bigger than life bad guys? Unrelenting nihilism, sexual acrobatics, and violence in all its shades of gore magnetically attract you? Then pass on this one. But if you long for those forgotten virtues such as witty repartee, and a kind of savvy innocence, you will really enjoy George Clooney’s latest venture.
What really sets Leatherheads apart from the current cinema crop is its big heart, its refusal to take itself seriously, and its essential sweetness. The classic love/sports triangle is broad but never brash, and in its own way, muted and nuanced in a way some of Clooney’s more political vehicles never have been.
Dodge Connolly (George Clooney) knows every trick in the book to lead his brawling Duluth Bulldogs to victory on the football field, but he cannot get enough fans to the games. Enlisting war hero/ college football star Carter Rutherford (John Krasinski) to play for their team not only fills the stadiums to capacity, but it complicates matters as well, especially when sassy reporter Lexie Littleton (Renee Zellweger) arrives on the scene.
Rutherford not only outshines the aging Dodge on the field, but he seems to be gaining a lot of yards with the pert reporter. Dodge takes the former with good grace, but is not yet ready to punt on the lady. Lexie, on the other hand, is playing her own game, cozying up to the Bullet, as Rutherford is affectionately labeled, to dig up some dirt on his war hero status, a predilection of journalists then as now.
One of the film’s more interesting angles is the parallel between Clooney and his Dodge Connolly character. Dodge, the aging quarterback, is a sort of one man team, slugging it out on the field, and than dictating word for word coverage of it to Sudsy, his ever inebriated sports reporter pal, just as Clooney himself dons both actor and director hats, not to mention a little officially unacknowledged script scribbling thrown in. The actor/director apparently rewrote quite a bit of the dialogue himself and had a little altercation with the Writers Guild over it, perhaps reason for the animus of some showbiz columnists, such as Nikki Finke:
I'm not going to diss him for bigfooting the script because that is his right. Nor should anyone hold against him that he starred in it, he directed it, he produced it and he's already got a villa on Lake Como.
Another thing that shines through is love of the game, whether it is football or filmmaking. Sharing their playing field with a bewildered cow who chumps on the turf as the flailing runners slog by, or playing down and dirty in this anything goes era of football seems infinitely superior to the over regulated sports business we have today, where players’ loyalties are to their bank account and not the team.
There is an unwritten set or rules, though, a kind of gentleman’s code of conduct that has the two love rivals duke it out, but avoid the self-confessed weak spots of the other. “Watch my left shoulder, won’t you?” Or, “I’ve got a bad back. Be careful.” Even the classic barroom brawl ends in a slightly drunken chorus of “Over There,” black eyes forgotten in a shared love of country. Personal destruction is not the goal here, as a commonsensical Dodge warns Carter against a full-fledged confession of his not quite heroic credentials. Absent the Gotcha moment, instead Dodge tells him, “We like our heroes.”
And you will, too, even if they are not quite playing by the rules.
One of the new rules Dodge can definitely do without is the no drinking, early to bed pre game routine. I mean, how’s a fellow to wile away the evening if he can’t go to his favorite Speakeasy for a few belts? Fortunately, reporters are under no such prohibitions, although, of course, the whole country was, officially that is. So who should Dodge run into in his friendly unofficial little bar, but the luscious little reporter herself.
Let’s serve them up a Prohibition Cocktail to remember, one starting with gin, probably of the bathtub variety, which I’m told was not really made in bathtubs, but just had to make use of their taps in order to fit the large bottles underneath for a water top off.
Ours is a simple one, made with gin, lemon juice, and Cointreau. This White Lady, though, packs quite a punch, kind of like Lexie Littleton herself.
You might be interested in a few other cocktails:
or James Bond’s favorite, a Vodka Martini
- 1 1/2 Tbsp Gin
- 1 1/2 Tbsp Cointreau
- 1 1/2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
Directions: Mix all ingredients and strain and pour into a Cocktail Glass.
Comments: Watch Out -- This Ladies Drink is Stronger than you Think!
Recipe Source: MixDrinx.com