Monday, April 7, 2008


Booker Brooks, lest we forget.

I had all but prepared for the consistent Clooney head tilt/tick and the squinty Zellweger optical issue, even allowing Clooney a pass under the "promising Director" category for his fine work on CONFESSIONS OF A DANGEROUS MIND. Unfortunately, my preparations were frivolous and naive as 5 minutes into LEATHERHEADS, I was overcome with the feeling of uncomfortable fidgeting and the feeble attempt to remain interested. (Sidenote: I just watched JOHN ADAMS pt. 5 and am noticing my grammar is in it's utmost and proper English form tonight - bear with me). It seems Clooney was inspired by Howard Hawks ability to direct the rapid fire screwball comedy HIS GIRL FRIDAY and decided the public's endearing, "this generation's Cary Grant" title was reason enough for such an undertaking. Well public, I have a bone to pick with you. There is no actor who can compare with Grant's charm, acting chops, physicality, sense of humor, timing, let alone, his attractiveness whether young (HOLIDAY) or old (see FATHER GOOSE and try to tell me otherwise). So let's not be so quick to toss someone when his hair is parted just right and slicked back with the appropriate amount of product, somewhat resembles the debonair Grant, into the same league. He will always be "that guy who played Booker on ROSEANNE" to me.

Now. That being said, I would never suggest that Clooney hasn't found his sea legs and performed pitch perfect in OH BROTHER WHERE ART THOU? and MICHAEL CLAYTON. He's in his element in both films surrounded by writer/directors who are able to balance the fine art of their prose with some nifty camera angles. Clooney is his best when he is an actor or a director, but after seeing his latest opus, never should he bother to overburden himself with both heady tasks.

Whoever decided to insert grainy sepia toned still shots into the intro, I'd like to pick your brain and hear how you believed such a stutter step type device was helping to keep up with the fast paced consistency of the manly football game. Every "snapshot" gave us the audience, I'm averaging, about 2 minutes to properly stare at the image while listening to the hokey 1920's music in order for us to completely be indoctrinated into this time period. OR ELSE. The torturous intro aside, we were quickly shoved into the newspaper setting where we were asked to completely ignore Zellweger's inability to match Rosalind Russell's timing and good natured ribbing and just stare at that funny hat she had on. It's got a feather! See? That's comedy! Sigh.

Bear in mind, we're merely 10 minutes into the film by now. I'll do you the favor and not bore you with the next 40 minutes of detail, but just know that the set up is based on Zellweger's character getting the real dirt on Krasinski's wartime hero all American character, but at the same time, Clooney's character has devised a plan to enlist Krasinski into pro football in hopes to turn around the laughable league. Oh no! Two people depending on opposing outcomes! Never fear, we'll forget that completely tangible and understandable plot point and just make it about a love triangle. Zellweger falls for the adorable Krasinski while making googly eyes at Clooney who'd like to snag the snarky news gal for himself. Yadablahetc...

The movie is boring. It's not really about the rise of the pro football league. It's not really about war heroes and the tawdry efforts of the press to ruin everyone. It's not really about college students taking a risk on their livelihoods to join the pros. I think, albeit a hack attempt, it's about the importance of change, and the wisdom, and sometimes fear, that older men have about becoming extinct. It's about giving a nod to American troops, yet suggesting "the truth is out there". The edits are excruciatingly slow and the Commissioner scene was directed and cut with importance, as if we were watching the Constitution of the United States being signed. I'll leave it for you to decide if Clooney actually resorted to an obvious head nod in a train scene to direct an actor when to stand up. Don't worry, that sounds covert, but as evidenced by B.O grosses, you'll be renting this and have plenty of time to catch the obvious cue.

Sports fans, watch ESPN Classic. Screwball comedy fans, watch TCM. Romantic comedy fans, watch WE. There's better judgement and levity in an hour long episode of LITTLE PEOPLE, BIG WORLD than there was in this fumbletastic film.

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