Leatherheads

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
Leatherheads Movie Poster Image
Clooney's football comedy isn't quite a touchdown.
  • PG-13
  • 2008
  • 113 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 5 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 6 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Betrayal and deceit are themes that run through the film, since nearly all the leads have a secret up their sleeve. But in the end, they're all quite well-intentioned. A "battle of the sexes" feel permeates here and there.

Violence

Men throw punches at each other in bars (breaking glass and bottles and throwing things at each other) and in one all-out, by-the-roadside brawl. Gridiron action as well.

Sex

Some subtle sexual repartee and a lingering kiss.

Language

Mostly words that evoke the era, including "moxie" and "nuts," though there's a sprinkling of "damn," "goddamn," "hell," and "s--t."

Consumerism

Period-accurate signage everywhere for brands/products like Bromo-Seltzer, Baby Ruth, Beech-Nut cigarettes (which, as an aside, now makes baby food), Coca-Cola, Standard Oil, etc. Also many shots and mentions of the front page of various Chicago newspapers, including the Chicago Tribune.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drinking in speakeasies (getting soused was outlawed at the time) -- where even children show up. Lots of smoking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that older tweens and teens may be drawn to this 1920s-set romantic comedy by stars George Clooney, Renee Zellweger, and John Krasinski (one of the stars of The Office). It's a fun, fairly tame screwball movie, but it's worth noting that it's set in a time when women were treated as if they weren't equal to men and kids were put to work like adults (and acted like them, too). Also in the name of period accuracy, characters smoke, drink, and swear ("s--t" is the strongest word used). It's all treated with a light touch -- maybe almost too much so; it's frothy and fun, but there's not as much of a bite as it first promises.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written by[email protected] April 9, 2008

Misleading Review for Christians

I previously read the Common Sense Review of this Film, and because it appeared fairly harmless with regard to sex, nudity, and language content my friend and... Continue reading
Adult Written byuffda2ya April 9, 2008

Lighten Up!

This is not an art film, it isn't a social commentary on the equality of women. It certainly isn't a film on sports safety since these guys cream each... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old April 9, 2008
Teen, 14 years old Written byeagles4ever December 14, 2010
An okay movie, not that greatm not that movie, some funny parts in it.

What's the story?

If there was ever a doubt that George Clooney is an actor straight out of the Cary Grant playbook, LEATHERHEADS banishes it forever. As Dodge Connolly, a pro footballer back in the day when the game played second banana to its more refined, civilized collegiate counterpart, Clooney (who also directed) is winning. When his scrappy, beloved team, the Duluth Bulldogs, is disbanded, its members scattered to the mines and the fields, Dodge hatches a plan to save the league by recruiting war hero/college football legend Carter Rutherford (John Krasinski). His plan is a success: The fans descend in droves. But ace reporter Lexie Littleton (Renee Zellweger) is out to prove Rutherford a fraud, and pro football's ascent may prove its undoing, after all. That leaves Dodge -- who's falling in love with the fiery Lexie, whom Carter fancies, too -- in a pickle. What's a guy to do?

Is it any good?

Krasinski, whom fans probably know best as The Office's sardonic Jim, steps into Carter's cleats with ease. Who knew he could hold his own with the impossibly debonair Clooney (who, even when he's rumpled, still looks suave)?. Zellweger pursues success with a panther-like zeal and ably trades barbs with Clooney, and they do have chemistry, though she's no Nora to his Nick.

Clearly, Leatherheads is a fun way to pass the time. The art direction is fantastic, it makes football history compelling, and it brings up interesting, still-relevant points about how the press shapes public figures and how those public figures allow half-truths to go uncorrected. And kudos to Randy Newman for the lively soundtrack. But somewhere along the way, you get a sense of promise unfulfilled. A small twist in the end that saves the day feels rushed, and the witty banter, while engaging, isn't really all that clever. Though you expect the movie to wrap up nicely, as movies of this genre do, it becomes clear that Leatherheads is more of an homage than a true original.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Carter's image was shaped. How does Lexie -- and by extension, the media -- change it? Or doesn't she? Who manipulates whom? Can you think of any other press-public figure relationships in the movie that seem distorted? Families can also discuss how football is treated in the movie. Why was college ball so revered but pro football not? Did "classing up" the game ruin it? Last but not least, how does this film seem different from prototypical Hollywood comedies/romantic comedies? How is it similar to them?

Movie details

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