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    Leatherheads

    Leatherheads Melinda Sue Gordon / Universal Studios

    Review in a Hurry:  George Clooney stars as an aging quarterback who recruits a young star player (John Krasinski) in the early days of pro football. But the men end up rivals for the affections of a sharp-tongued reporter (Renée Zellweger). A good-natured throwback to the days of screwball comedy, the movie is at its best away from the playing field.

    The Bigger Picture:  The Roaring '20s—when men were men, dames were dames and cigarettes were good for you. Dodge Connelly (Clooney) and his teammates on the Duluth Bulldogs are faced with the prospect of honest work as the fledgling sport struggles to get off the ground. But Dodge isn't about to let that happen, so he gets Carter Rutherford (Krasinski) to join the team.

    Rutherford is an All-American icon: a war hero, an Ivy Leaguer and already a college football star. He's got his face on toothpaste tubes and plays in new stadiums. Dodge and his boys have to clean off the cow manure at the end of a game.

    Carter puts the fans in the bleachers, as promised, but it's possible he's hiding a secret behind his boyish grin. That attracts the attention of ace reporter Lexie Littleton (Zellweger), who speaks fluent snappy patter. Pretty soon, Dodge and Carter are both smitten, and the inevitable complications ensue.

    Leatherheads takes a few pages from the classic sports-comedy-romance Bull Durham playbook, but here, there's no underlying bitterness to the rivalry. Defeat never seems to sting much, because it's so easily laughed off.

    Football turns out to be just an excuse to get Clooney and Zellweger together, which is where the real competition happens. For all his speed, Krasinski's Carter gets left on the sidelines as Dodge and Lexie try to figure out if they're playing against one another or on the same team.

    The 180—a Second Opinion:  Wait, there's a flag on the field! The third act drags nearly to a halt as football and the plot get unnecessarily serious.

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