Leatherheads Blu-Ray Review

Cover Art and Menus: 7/10
The cover for Leatherheads is kind of a neat photo of the guys in full football gear, obviously playing in the mud.  Like the movie, it is period appropriate, and it really sets the tone for this movie.  Unfortunately I also think that like the title, it makes this movie seem more like a sports movie than it really ends up being.  The menu is the (what seems like) classic Blu-ray menu: black with scenes from the movie playing.  I am not sure if all of the  Blu-rays from Universal are set up with this same theme, but it seems like it, and it is already getting old.

Features: 3/10

  • U-Control (Picture In Picture) – We again have the Universal U-Control, which is basically a running set of extras that are available as the movie plays.  As  Ascully and Cidtalk  have mentioned before, this is not the best way to do the extras.  I would rather have the ability to watch the extras in full screen, with the ability to choose what I want to see, and when.  It includes interviews with cast and crew, and your basic fare.  There are also some clips of the commentary done by George Clooney and Producer Grant Heslov.
  • Feature Commentary With Director George Clooney & Producer Grant Heslov – Clooney and Heslov also do the audio commentary on the movie, which goes into depth about Clooney’s choices and some of the meaning behind the things he put into the movie.  There are some nice glimpses of just how the movie was made to fit the era, and how some real thought went into making the shots fit seamlessly, but overall this is not the most engaging commentary ever made.

The Movie: 5/10
A 5 out of 10.  Sounds like I did not really like Leatherheads, but I think that I kind of did like it.  Here is where it gets difficult – trying to describe what type of movie Leatherheads is seems to me to be an exercise in futility.  It starts off with some amazingly fun scenes from the old-school gridiron in 1925.  The guys seem like second rate hacks and the game is obviously not coordinated and has very little in the name of rules.  When a boy runs off with the football (the only football) in the middle of one game, the referee rules that the home team (who was winning) was forced to forfeit, since they are supposed to supply the game ball.  When the home team points out that there is no such rule stating such, the guys abruptly start throwing punches.

Our main character is Dodge Connelly (George Clooney) who is the captain of the lowly Duluth Bulldogs.  Dodge is forced to deal with the fact that the league is failing, and as a veteran pro football player, he has no real skills and no real way to make a living outside of football.  The league is in shambles and hardly draws any real fans, while college football is healthy and has a true following.  Dodge decides to try to keep his dream alive by attempting to bring Carter Rutherford to the pros, directly from college ball, where he was a hero.  Carter (John Krasanski), is a pure American hero, who supposedly single-handedly got an entire regiment of Germans to surrender during the First World War.  The story has stuck, and the good looking hero has parlayed his image to become a college football legend.  Dodge figures that bringing Carter “the Bullet” Rutherford into the league will save pro football, and so he decides to approach Carter’s agent CC about getting Carter to join the league for big money.

At the same time, Lexie Littleton (Renee Zellweger), a Chicago newspaper reporter  has been sent to get the scoop on the real story behind Carter’s hero story.  Lexie is a sharp witted female reporter in a man’s world, and she decides that she will follow Carter as he joins the Duluth Bulldogs and boosts the pro football league.  Dodge is immediately taken by Lexie, and he finds ways to endlessly be with her.  At the same time, Lexie seems to be getting closer to Carter, as she attempts to get the real scoop on what happened in the War.  the result is a tumultuous love triangle that comes to a head when Lexie’s paper runs the story that Carter is in fact a fraud, and not America’s sweetheart.

Carter ends up switching to the Chicago team, just as a real Commissioner is assigned to the league, and the last show down is seemingly a competition to see who is the better man.  with all forms of trickery outlawed from the once riddled game, Dodge does his best to put Carter in his place.

Leatherheads is not a bad movie by any stretch of the imagination, but it just seemed to have trouble finding a theme and sticking to it.  It is a sports movie for a bit, and then it tries to be a romance.  It is comedic, and then overly serious.  I was kind of left shaking my head.  To be fair, the acting was decent, but seeing Clooney in this overly wise, scheming role just seems to me to be an extension of his O Brother, Where Art Thou role, and it was almost like I knew what he was going to do.  Renee Zellweger was decent as a woman holding her own in a man’s world, and the rest of the cast was pretty decent, but overall I was just not blown away by the movie itself.  I feel like this could have been so much more focused, and therefore more enjoyable, but instead it just kind of left me feeling like I missed something.

Audio & Video: 8/10
I am giving Leatherheads a pretty high score here, mainly because the transfer to Blu-ray looks great, and the fact that the cinematography is so distinct that it really gave the movie a great “feel.”  Presented in 1.85:1 widescreen, the movie looks crisp.  The detail in some of the shots is just amazing, and when you couple that with the amazing look of the movie, it just works.  The cinematography is done with a kind of muted color scheme that seems to add to the older feel of the movie.  There is a great use of tans and muted colors here that just looks amazing.

The audio is also very clear and well done.  The dialogue is nicely presented, and the use of the 5.1 Surround Sound is adequate.  The noises from the game seemed to fit, and the music (Randy Newman) is very well done and again seems to add to the old time feel of the movie.

Value: 5/10
Leatherheads is a decent movie that seems to struggle to find a niche.  I am not sure if it is sports movie, or a comedy, or a romance.  I am not saying that it has to necessarily pick, but it just made the film seem to ramble and move along without much heart.  Clooney plays the same overly-cute, scheming character that he does in lots of his movies, but it just seems ingenious in this movie.  The chemistry between Dodge and Lexie is there for some of the movie, and then not there for other parts.   I liked Leatherheads, but I just wish it was more – of what I am not really sure.  Add to that the sparse extras, and you have a value problem in my opinion.   The movie left me feeling like I missed something, and I am not sure that I really did.  Maybe I will watch it again to see if it was just me.

Overall Score 5/10