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Salisbury & Spencer shine in ‘Leatherheads’

ëLeatherheadsí
Rated: PG-13 (brief strong language)
Running length: 1 hr., 54 min.
Starring: George Clooney, RenEe Zellweger, John Krasinski, Jonathan Pryce
Directed by: George Clooney
Rating: 3 stars (out of 4)

iLeatherheadsî stars two local favorites ó the towns of Salisbury and Spencer.
Oh yeah, and some guy named Clooney. You may have heard of him.
George Clooney again spends time in front of and behind the camera, directing and starring in iLeatherheads,î a nod to the romantic comedies of Hollywoodís golden age.
The plot, however, revolves around football.
Clooney plays Dodge Connelly, the leader of a ragtag professional football team that in 1925 crisscrosses the country by train playing equally ragtag teams.
When Dodgeís funding runs out, he makes a last-ditch, Hail Mary effort to save the team. He enlists the help of Carter Rutherford (John Krasinski), a war hero ó thatís World War I ó whose valiant story of bravery may not be all its cracked up to be.
Those classic, screwball romantic comedies of the í30s and í40s involved zany plots, unlikely romances and rapid-fire dialog.
Thatís just what we have with iLeatherheads.î
Things heat up once Lexie Littleton (Renee Zellweger) arrives on the scene.
Lexie is a sassy reporter from Chicago ó the only female reporter on staff, from the looks of things ó whoís recruited by her editor to get the lowdown on Carter.
Like our own Rose Post, Lexie never met a story she didnít like.
Add that to the fact that her editor (who reminds you a bit of President Taft) dangles an assistant editor position in front of her, and Lexie is soon hot on Carterís trail.
Only problem is, Carter is a really nice guy. Heís got that, gee-whiz, aw-shucks nature about him.
He says stuff like, iI was in the right place at the right timeî and iI was just doing my job,î all with genuine modesty.
The kind of clichEs that drive reporters nuts.
Still, you canít help but like Carter.
And the boy can play some football.
Good thing.
The Duluth Bulldogs could really use some help.
They use outdoor locker rooms, they dry their uniforms by hanging them out the train windows and their high-school player, Big Gus, gives a whole new meaning to the term idefense.î
The Dawgs play dirty.
Thatís OK. Everybody else does, too.
Until, that is, a football commissioner is hired and they start going by these things called irules.î
Meanwhile, Lexie keeps getting closer to the truth, and the Bulldogs start winning with Carter.
Dodge finally realizes heís fallen for Lexie ó when they finally take a break from their snappy repartee, that is.
Only problem is, so has Carter.
No doubt with Dodge and Lexie that Clooney drew inspiration from such great screen couples as Bogart and Bacall, Tracy and Hepburn ó and perhaps even a little Lucy and Ricky, too.
As in iGood Night, and Good Luck,î Clooney is meticulous as a director. He wants to get the details right.
He takes his own sweet time developing the plot, allowing us to get to know the characters.
He lingers on a well-lit scene. Heís obviously paid attention on movie sets over the years, and he gets it right here.
As in iGood Night, and Good Luck,î men and women ó even the down-on-their-luck football players, are dressed to the nines. Itís a pleasure to watch actors dressed their best. It just makes a movie shine.
The í30s and í40s were a time where movie stars were movie stars, bigger than life. Clooney and Zellweger certainly come across this way in iLeatherheads.î
Clooney is at his most handsome and Zellweger is beautiful, her hair and make-up perfect.
Itís a toss-up whether modern audiences will embrace such an old-fashioned movie.
One Salisburian who loved it was Elizabeth Smith, whose son Todd served as a set dresser.
iI just thought it was wonderful,î Smith said Monday afternoon following a special preview in Charlotte. iYou could recommend it to anybody. It took you back to a simpler time. It had such upbeat music. At this time of the century, we need upbeat and fun.î
Contact Susan Shinn at 704-797-4289 or sshinn@salisburypost.com.

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