We are nearing the end of the that trackless wasteland that lies between the end of the Oscar season and the beginning of the summer blockbuster releases. There has been absolutely nothing coming out recently that I’ve wanted to see, although I probably should have roused myself to take in The Bank Job or In Bruges. Oh well, Iron Man doesn’t open for a few more weeks; perhaps I’ll get around to it.
    I didn’t really want to see Leatherheads either. The trailers weren’t promising and the clips I’ve seen haven’t been funny. However, I like football, George Clooney and especially Rene Zellweger.  Add to that the fact that my last entry was my Oscar picks…I bought the ticket and settled in.
    Leatherheads is George Clooney’s third outing as a director after Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and Good Night and Good Luck. I never saw the former but I really liked the latter. As far as I’m concerned Clooney not only shows great promise as a director, he’s fulfilled it. But in Leatherheads he’s taken on not just a comedy but a screwball comedy in the classic 30s/40s style–a tricky proposition. Screwballs, with their whipsmart dialog and precise timing are something of a lost art, especially in these days of clumsy and obvious double entendres and scatological humor. Sadly, Clooney isn’t up to the challenge. The performances are good, and he sparks with co-star Renee Zellweger well enough, but Leatherheads lacks those two essential elements for a good screwball comedy.
    The dialog strives to sparkle, but most of the time it just sits there, being merely serviceable. Today’s screenwriters are so far out of practice at this sort of thing, their attempts seem forced and unrealistic and not half as clever as they think it is.
    The pace is also too slow. The montages last a shot or two too long. There’s always one reaction shot too many. The editing is very sloppy and the energy is low.
    I’d like to see others try their hand at Screwball comedies. It is a much missed genre. But I fear that Clooney should probably stick to earnest dramas from here on out.


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April 2008
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