Hail, Caesar!

February 5, 2016 by  
Filed under Cody, Reviews

Ep. 49 – San Andreas, Aloha, Nightingale, Tron 3 is cancelled, and is George Clooney a movie star? (Yes, he is.)

June 1, 2015 by  
Filed under Podcast

[iframe style=”border:none” src=”http://html5-player.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/3587804/height/100/width/480/thumbnail/yes/theme/standard” height=”100″ width=”480″ scrolling=”no” allowfullscreen webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen oallowfullscreen msallowfullscreen]

Click here to download the episode!

In this week’s episode of The CineSnob Podcast, the guys from CineSnob.net review “San Andreas,” “Aloha,” and “Nightingale.” They also discuss their recent appearance on Texas Public Radio, the cancellation of “Tron 3,” and a silly debate over whether or not George Clooney is a movie star.

[0:00-9:18] Intro, pickle talk, TPR “The Source” wrap up
[9:18-26:24] Is George Clooney a movie star? (Of course he is)
[26:24-39:09] Tron 3 is cancelled by Disney
[39:09-52:50] San Andreas
[52:50-1:07:49] Aloha
[1:07:49-1:18:22] Nightingale
[1:18:22-1:30:01] Teases for next week and close

Subscribe to The CineSnob Podcast via RSSiTunes or Stitcher.

To give your feedback, e-mail us at podcast [at] cinesnob [dot] net, or leave a voicemail at 920-FILM-210.

Tomorrowland

May 26, 2015 by  
Filed under Kiko, Reviews

Starring: George Clooney, Britt Robertson, Hugh Laurie
Directed by: Brad Bird (“Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol”)
Written by: Damon Lindelof (“World War Z”) and Brad Bird (“Ratatouille”)

Vagueness in a film’s marketing is something we’re all going to have to get used to as moviegoers from now on. From ambiguous trailers to the ridiculous amount of press a leaked photo gets to the cast and crew having to sign discourse agreements before actually shooting a single scene, cinematic secrecy is becoming all too familiar these days for studios who want very little revealed before a film’s release (it’s odd since spoilers basically start hitting the internet minutes later, but we regress). There is a problem, however, when a film’s mystery frustratingly seeps into its storytelling and never lets up. Such is the case with “Tomorrowland,” a sci-fi movie so concerned about giving away too much too soon, that before we know it, at least a third of the film is over and we still have no idea what the heck is happening – nor do we care anymore.

Far less creative than it thinks it is, “Tomorrowland” takes the central premise of “making the world a better place” and runs its mediocre narrative into the ground. Britt Robertson (“The Longest Ride”) stars as Casey Newton, an intelligent young girl witha positive outlook on life who is invited to experience the utopian world of Tomorrowland by way of a magical pin given to her by an android named Athena (Raffey Cassidy). Athena has been in search of individuals driven by hope for the future and Casey’s just the girls she’s been looking for (although calling her special in any way is an overstatement). Inventor Frank Walker (George Clooney as an adult, Thomas Robinson as a kid) once fit that description when he was younger, but now as an adult, he is far less certain that Tomorrowland is a reality. When Casey asks him to take her there, he scoffs at the idea before he realizes they are the only two people who can save the world from apocalyptic doom.

Keeping things obscure is one thing, but director and co-writer Brad Bird (“Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol”) and co-writer Damon Lindelof (“World War Z”) do it in such an annoying fashion, you never feel like any of the ideas they present to you are important enough to embrace at more than face value. A myriad of questions are asked, none of which are answered. In fact, any question a character utters throughout most of the film is sidestepped sloppily and without regard to compelling dialogue between the characters. At one point Clooney’s character asks, “Do I have to explain everything? Can’t you just be amazed and move on?” It’s hard not to imagine Lindelof writing this little exchange in the script while snickering at his computer. To answer your question, Damon, no you don’t have to explain everything, but at least give us a reason to stay around and find out what big surprises you have in store for us (spoiler: there are no big surprises). Also, if you honestly think some “amazing” special effects (these are average, at best) are going to be enough to get us through the mess you’ve written, your characters in “Tomorrowland” aren’t the only ones living in another world.

Monuments Men

February 7, 2014 by  
Filed under Kiko, Reviews

Starring: George Clooney, Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett
Directed by: George Clooney (“The Ides of March”)
Written by: George Clooney (“The Ides of March”) and Grant Heslov (“The Ides of March”)

Historically speaking, “Monuments Men,” a film about a platoon of art appreciators who put their lives on the line to rescue priceless works of art from the Nazis during World War II, is a fascinating story and one that everyone should definitely be aware of. Cinematically speaking, however, director George Clooney’s latest isn’t the film they should trust to make it a lasting experience. As much as it would like to be considered more of a heist movie than an actual war movie, “Monuments Men” comes up extremely short on both fronts.

Sent on a mission by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt to reclaim thousands of famous artworks stolen by the Germans across Europe, art historian Frank Stokes (Clooney) puts together his ragtag team of curators and museum directors to save what they can before Hitler puts it in his own museum or burns it. The team includes art dealer Jean Claude Clermont (Jean Dujardin) and sculptor Walter Garfield (John Goodman). Other actors joining the bumpy ride are Billy Murray, Hugh Bonneville, Dimitri Leonidas and Bob Balaban. Somewhere along the way, Matt Damon and Cate Blanchett are used sparingly, although their story is probably the most compelling part of the entire narrative. Simply put: there are just not enough pages in the script to make them fully-realized characters. There isn’t even enough content for the men on the frontlines themselves, who basically mill around until it’s time for them to uncover the next trove of art.

Despite the impressive cast, Clooney’s cheeky “Ocean’s 11”-style approach to the film wasn’t in the best interest of the narrative in the least bit. The tone is playful throughout, which takes away from the seriousness of the subject at hand. Even when Clooney and co-writer Grant Heslov want to break away from the silliness, they fail to give the men any motivation so the characters can pull us in emotionally. Whether it’s during a scene where the men find a burnt frame belonging to a painting of Pablo Picasso, thus confirming the importance of their mission, or a scene where Murray breaks down because he misses his family, none of it rings true.

So far in his directorial career, Clooney has done some impressive work when the subject feels mature. Films like “The Ideas of March” and especially “Good Night, and Good Luck” are proof of that. But here, Clooney attempts to mix and match what he did with those films and what he did with his more lighthearted football-themed comedy “Leatherheads.” The outcome is a mess and one that, we’re sure, Clooney probably won’t be making during his next project.

The Descendants

November 27, 2011 by  
Filed under Cody, Reviews

Starring: George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, Beau Bridges
Directed by: Alexander Payne (“Sideways”)
Written by: Alexander Payne (“Sideways”), Nat Faxon (debut), Jim Rash (debut)

With the beautiful scenery of Hawaii as backdrop, Matt King (George Clooney) describes how people assume just because he lives in the island paradise, he is on vacation all the time. Truth is, he hasn’t golfed in years and his problems are no different than anyone living on the mainland.  Although his problems are plentiful, none is greater than struggling to care for his comatose wife.  This crisis becomes the center of “The Descendants,” a story about a father struggling to hold onto everything, including his family.

After his wife is left gravely injured in a boating accident, Matt is thrust into taking care of his two daughters; the younger Scottie (Amara Miller) who is lost without her mother, and the older Alexandra (Shailene Woodley) who is off to college and acting out against everyone.  As Matt pries further into why Alexandra is so mad at her mother, he discovers that his wife might have been cheating on him. While trying to find out information on the man who slept with his wife, Matt must also deal with pressure from his extended family as he negotiates a deal to sell a huge mass of land that was bequeathed to his family from their Hawaiian ancestors.

Clooney is brilliant in his role, but what else is new? It’s truly astonishing how effortless Clooney emotes and delivers his lines with such great personality and wit. He will without question carry on his tradition of bi-annual acting Oscar nominations with his performance. For the supporting roles, director Alexander  Payne decided to fill out the rest of his cast with a melting pot of veteran and novice actors. While every cast member does a really great job, none are better than Woodley. Best known for her role on the ABC Family show “The Secret Life of The American Teenager,” Woodley plays the role of a foul-mouthed rebellious teenager to perfection. Although frustrated with her father for numerous reasons, her character Alexandra slowly grasps the situation at hand and attempts to mature, something that Woodley approaches at the level of a far more experienced actor.

After a seven-year absence, Payne returns with one of his more accessible films to date. The script he co-wrote is darkly funny with some very devastating one-liners that are delivered with perfection by Clooney. A good portion of the comedy also comes from Alexandra’s dopey free-spirit friend Sid, played by newcomer and Austin,Texas native Nick Krause. Although Payne does a good job at balancing comedy and drama, the film skews far more dramatically than one might think. This happens to be a great thing, as the more dramatic scenes are among the best in the film.

While the final act of the film is just a touch predictable, it carries extreme power. Anchored by a stellar performance from one of the most consistent actors in Hollywood, “The Descendants” is a fantastic and sometimes heartbreaking portrayal of a father struggling with responsibilities he’s not prepared for and trying to confront and make peace with the past.

 

The Ides of March

October 7, 2011 by  
Filed under Cody, Reviews

Starring: Ryan Gosling, George Clooney, Phillip Seymour Hoffman
Directed by: George Clooney (“Good Night, and Good Luck”)
Written by: George Clooney (“Good Night, and Good Luck”), Grant Heslov (“Good Night, and Good Luck”) and Beau Willimon (debut)

Every smile or sentence that comes from a political candidate is calculated. As Matt Damon’s politician character in “The Adjustment Bureau” pointed out, focus groups are employed for even the most mundane details, from determining what the perfect amount of scuff for a pair of dress shoes is to picking a tie that conveys the right message. There is always a crack staff working behind the scenes feeding candidates lines, strategies, and conducting damage control, all to make sure their campaign is unsinkable.  In “The Ides of March,” Ryan Gosling plays a skilled, idealistic young staffer who enters the world of politics as a true believer, but finds out very quickly that winning an election requires more than just having a candidate you believe in.

Adapted from the play “Farragut North,” which draws inspiration from Howard Dean’s 2004 presidential bid, “The Ides of March” follows the primary campaign of Governor Mike Morris (George Clooney) as he seeks the nomination of the Democratic Party. The Morris campaign is managed by Paul Zara (Phillip Seymour Hoffman), but the real brain of the team is Stephen Myers (brilliantly played by Gosling), a smart and emerging political mind on the campaign trail. When the manager (Paul Giamatti) of the opposing candidate approaches Stephen to try and poach him from the Morris campaign, the news is somehow leaked to the press and an aggressive reporter (Marisa Tomei) won’t stop until she gets the answers she wants. As this story begins to unfold, Stephen uncovers an even bigger scandal that threatens his job, exposes him to blackmail and extortion, and leaves him at the center of a moral and professional dilemma.

The cast of Oscar winners and nominees that director George Clooney has assembled is the strongest pillar of the film. Gosling gives one of the strongest performances of his critically-acclaimed career as a charismatic and ambitious man with everything to lose. Gosling has a particular knack for conveying disbelief and intensity with wide-eyed stares. Hoffman gives the strongest of the supporting roles. His scenes with Gosling contain some of the best interaction seen in a film this year. The interplay between these two commanding actors is the most obvious reminder that the film is based on a play, as one can easily imagine these scenes taking place on a Broadway stage.  Strong performances from Giamatti, Tomei and Evan Rachel Wood are seen, as well as from Clooney who takes a much smaller role in the film in exchange for his work on the script and behind the camera.

While the story is that of a pretty standard political thriller, “The Ides of March” sets itself apart in its execution. The script is sharp, with plenty of devastating and often hilarious quips.  The movie navigates through a potentially redundant concept by maintaining a constant tension and more than enough twists and turns to keep viewers interested.  As the stakes become greater and things spiral out of control, it is fascinating to watch Gosling’s character struggle between what is right and what the implications are for his career.

It might be a tad cliché for a film to depict politics as a dirty profession that can cause even the most ambitious and hardworking individual to become jaded, but the narrative works and feels like an accurate depiction of how a campaign would control a scandal.  With brilliant acting from its stellar cast, “The Ides of March” separates itself from an often-unimaginative genre with powerhouse performances and authentic details.

The American

September 3, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: George Clooney, Irina Björklund, Thekla Reuten
Directed by: Anton Corbijn (“Control”)
Written by: Rowan Joffe (“28 Weeks Later”)

If you think the term “minimalist thriller” sounds contradictory that’s because it is. It’s also the perfect way to describe George Clooney’s new film “The American,” a tame and tensionless art-house spy movie that will only be appreciated by small circles familiar with European cinema from the 60s and 70s and those with a resistance to films with glacial pacing. Don’t anticipate Jason Bourne or James Bond. Try Just Bored.

Directed by Anton Corbijn, who did a fine job with the music biopic “Control” in 2007, the story follows Jack (George Clooney), an American hitman who is forced to lay low in Italy after he is targeted by assassins while spending time with his girlfriend in Sweden.

Despite sounding a bit like the set up of the engaging 2008 film “In Bruges” where an assassin played by Colin Farrell hides out in Belgium after a hit goes bad, “The American” offers up its narrative with much more restraint. In turn, Clooney, while still exuding his debonair style as always, can’t translate his usual star power into anything of substance.

Screenwriter Rowan Joffe’s script, which is adapted from Martin Booth’s 1990 novel “A Very Private Gentleman,” internalizes much of Jack’s thoughts and emotions. While Clooney is talented enough to convey the melodrama without getting tacky, we’re left with a solemn performance maintained by a pretentious story without much backbone. Without the characters being on the verge of something, they never seem to be in any actual danger.

Spending most of the film’s runtime in Italy, Jack receives instructions from his boss Pavel (Johan Leysen) to construct a customized rifle for another assassin (Thekla Reuten). Despite Pavel’s orders not to make any friends, Jack begins a tryst with a local prostitute (Violante Placido) and a pointless friendship with a priest (Paolo Bonacelli) all while trying to figure out who is responsible for the attempted hit on him.

Besides his tour through the small and beautifully-shot Italian town, neither Corbijn nor Joffe seem interested in creating something more than an observational drama. Sure, there is an underlying feeling that there could possibly be another assassin lurking in the shadows, but the film is so self-aware of its own subtlety it becomes aggravating to watch Clooney play it so straight.

By the end of “The American,” it’s not so much a climax that takes place in the waning moments as it is proof that all the characters are still conscious in some way. As a moviegoer, don’t expect you’ll be able to devote the same attentiveness.

Up in the Air

December 18, 2009 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, Anna Kendrick
Directed by: Jason Reitman (“Juno”)
Written by: Jason Reitman (“Thank You for Smoking”) and Sheldon Turner (“The Longest Yard”)

People do crazy things when they are fired from their job. While most may sit in total disbelief, there is the occasional childish tantrum thrown, tearful plea, and even the somber threat to end it all by jumping off the nearest bridge. Some reactions are hilarious (at least from a cinematic sense), some are shocking, and some are simply too heartbreaking to even begin to describe.

In “Up in the Air,” director/writer Jason Reitman and co-writer Sheldon Turner run the gamut on the emotions an employee might experience if he or she was told they were no longer needed. It’s a frightening situation no one would ever want to encounter although today’s increasing unemployment rate continuing to rise makes people wonder just how safe their job really is.

At its most basic, “Up in the Air” is a timely story about the unpredictable marketplace. But it’s so much more than that. It’s a film that speaks volumes about isolation and loneliness and the fear of failure and uninitiated change.

The life-altering affair begins and ends with Academy Award winner George Clooney (“Syriana”). He plays Ryan Bingham, a contract businessman hired by companies around the U.S. to pull the trigger and fire their employees when they can’t find the gall to do it themselves. Firing people face-to-face with the utmost professionalism and respect is all Ryan has ever known. He doesn’t necessarily like the outcome of what his position entails, but his unconstrained lifestyle (living out of his suitcase, jumping from airport to airport, and never having to commit to anyone for anything) is what he is used to. His love for his independence is evident when he starts having scheduled flings with Alex Goran (Vera Farmiga), another frequent flyer who seems to share the same no-strings-attached outlook on life.

So, when Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick), an ambitious efficiency expert straight out of college wants to revolutionize the way the company drops the ax (it’s only logical that firing someone over a webcam will get it done faster and cheaper), Ryan sees and end to his easy-going routine. While this bothers him a great deal, Ryan is also concerned the advanced firing technique via internet is even more heartless than doing it in person. Since the changeover at his company will take some time, he gets the chance to show Natalie there is an actual method to letting someone go that just can’t be duplicated on a computer screen.

Full of charming and touching anecdotes, Reitman makes “Up in the Air” soar. As a “road warrior” who is suddenly grounded, Clooney is Oscar bound in this multi-layered role that speaks from the heart. Kendrick, too, is very memorable as a matter-of-fact young businesswoman who thinks she has it all figured out despite her lack of experience.

It all works in “Up in the Air” from the dark comedy elements to the catchy sountrack. Not only is it one of the best films of the year, it’s also one of those distinctive romantic comedies (with a satirical and tragic twist) that is a true rarity in a usually cliched genre.

Fantastic Mr. Fox

November 27, 2009 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman
Directed by: Wes Anderson (“The Royal Tenenbaums”)
Written by: Wes Anderson (“The Royal Tenenbaums”) and Noah Baumbach (“The Squid and the Whale”)

If it wasn’t for Spike Jonze and his beautifully somber retelling of “Where the Wild Things Are,” Wes Anderson would be the leading vote-getter this year as the director with the most imagination for his whimsical and detail-oriented animation “Fantastic Mr. Fox.” Look behind you Pixar; this is a sly one.

Based on the classic Roald Dahl children’s book of the same name, which was published in 1970, Oscar-winner George Clooney (“Syriana”) lends his voice to Mr. Fox, a risk-taking carnivorous and clever newspaper columnist who promises his wife Mrs. Fox (two-time Oscar winner Meryl Streep) that he will find another line of work after they are both caught stealing chickens.

Twelve years later, Fox is a family man with a son, Ash (Jason Schwartzman), who he really can’t bond with, and a craving to return to his animalistic nature and go on another heist after a long hiatus. Call it a mid-life crisis, but Fox needs an adrenaline rush again. “I’m a wild animal,” is the reason he gives his better half when she finds out he and his loyal friend Kylie (Wallace Wolodarsky), an easily- influenced opossum, are scheming to steal from Boggis, Bunce, and Bean, three of the meanest farmers this side of the woods.

But while Fox is off jumping fences and getting ready for their “triple-header master plan,” Ash is left to fend with his own insecure teenage problems. His lack of self-confidence is magnified when his much more talented cousin Kristofferson (Eric Chase Anderson) comes for a visit and is immediately accepted by Fox as a member of his chicken- thieving crew.

Boggis, Bunce, and Bean, however, aren’t going to let one sly little fox outsmart them. Armed with dynamite, bulldozers, and rabid beagles, they go on a full assault against Fox and his family, who inhabit a tree across the field from where the farms sit. The farmers push them farther and farther into the terrain and force them to make an intricate series of paths to stay alive.

Masterfully crafted in a screenplay penned by Anderson (“The Royal Tenenbaums”) and Noah Baumbach (“The Squid and the Whale”), much of the writing duo’s snarky and sardonic dialogue works charmingly well coming from the mouths of fuzzy creatures who wear corduroy jackets and bandit hats and dance as silly as the Peanuts gang. There’s even a witty ongoing gag throughout the film where Anderson and Baumbach replace any expletives they would have used in one of their grown-up films with the word “cuss.”

Driven by old-fashioned stop motion animation, the style of “Fantastic Mr. Fox” looks like nothing you’ve seen in the past few years. It’s a handmade work-of-art with a wonderfully eccentric and heartfelt message about fathers and sons and what it really means to be “fantastic” when you’re just so different from everyone else. If Anderson has proven anything in his 15-year career, that would be the perfect sentiment.

Men Who Stare at Goats

November 9, 2009 by  
Filed under CineStrays

Starring: George Clooney, Ewan McGregor, Jeff Bridges
Directed by: Grant Heslov (“Par 6”)
Written by: Peter Straughan (“How to Lose Friends and Alienate People”)

Everything unravels pretty early on in “Goats,” the dry comedy directed by Oscar-nominated screenwriter/producer Grant Heslov (“Good Night, and Good Luck”). In the film, George Clooney, who has done satirical characters well before, plays Lyn Cassady, a psychic spy for the U.S. military who teams up with a reporter (Ewan McGregor) to go on a quirky adventure through Iraq. Based on an actual secret military program, the story behind “Goats” is one of mystifying science fiction that never gets passed the idea that all these characters are just darn so kitschy. It would have been nice to delve deeper into what makes all of them actually tick, but instead screenwriter Peter Straughan (“How to Lose Friends and Alienate People”) and Heslov decide the funniest thing they could do with “Goats” is get McGregor, who played Obi Wan Kenobi in the most recent “Star Wars” prequels, to overkill Jedi jokes while Clooney caricatures the heck out someone that should have been ten times more fun.

Burn After Reading

September 2, 2008 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: George Clooney, John Malkovich, Brad Pitt
Directed by: Joel and Ethan Coen (“No Country for Old Men”)
Written by: Joel and Ethan Coen (“Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?”)

It would only be natural if you flinched a bit when you found out the recently Oscar’ed Coen Brothers would return to the comedy genre after their success with the suspenseful and fascinating “No Country for Old Men.” Not since 1998’s “The Big Lebowski” has the genre been good to them, although some may argue “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” was a minor triumph.

Still, “Intolerably Cruelty” and “The Ladykillers” were not up to form for directors who had helmed one of the best dark comedies of all time in “Fargo.” It’s good to see them slowly finding that niche again in their new film.

In “Burn After Reading,” the nation’s security is in jeopardy (well, sort of) when employees of a local fitness center, including Chad Feldheimer (Brad Pitt) and Linda Litzke (Frances McDormand), find a disc they think contains top secret CIA information.

With a bitter, recently separated ex-spook named Osborne Cox (John Malkovich) on their backs, Chad and Linda decide they are going to milk their discovery as much as possible and see how far blackmailing someone can take them.

Linda, who’s tired of trolling on internet dates sites for the perfect man, has been longing for a few plastic surgery procedures her insurance refuses to cover so she can be more attractive, while peppy Chad is simply excited about being a part of the adventure. Academy Award winner George Clooney (“Syriana”) plays Harry Pfarrer, a delusional governmental employee with food allergies who’s been sleeping around with Osborne’s cold wife Katie (Tilda Swinton). Relationships continue to cross paths in this comedy of errors as the Coens write up a breezy little spoof that pushes the plot in bizarre and sometimes unbelievable ways.

The main problem with “Burn” is that the Coens haven’t developed characters as much as they have created caricatures of real people. It’s different when we’re talking about eccentricities like John Tuturro’s Jesus Quintana in “Lebowski” or even Clooney’s grease-loving Everett in “O Brother” because they seem to be in this completely different world devoid of any sanity. In “Burn,” however, many of the characters feel too manufactured in Anytown, USA. Their exaggerated stupidity can be endearing, but most of the time you’re thinking how no one can possibly be this dumb and needy.

Still, the Coens recipe for humor laden with violence is second to none and all the principal players give enjoyably jovial performances. It really is the Coen’s funniest film since giving us The Dude 10 years ago.

Leatherheads

April 2, 2008 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: George Clooney, Renée Zellweger, John Krasinski
Directed by: George Clooney (“Good Night and Good Luck”)
Written by: Duncan Brantley (debut) and Rick Reilly (debut)

For a pair of debuting feature film screenwriters, Duncan Brantley and Rick Reilly really capture the style and ambiance of professional football in the 1920’s in “Leatherheads.” Although novices in Hollywood, both men were Sports Illustrated reporters for much of their lives, which explains the panache and slight absurdity of their era-based film. When you study something long enough, it starts sinking in.

It’s been 17 years since Brantley and Reilly wrote the screenplay for “Leatherheads” before it was bought by Universal Pictures to go into production. The guys lucked out when it landed in the lap of Academy Award-winning actor and Academy Award-nominated director George Clooney (“Syriana”), whose suave personality and dry humor seems to fit the classic nature of the screwball comedy genre (for gosh sakes, the man started his career in “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes” and was the only person outside the Conner family that could match wits in the late ‘80s with Rosanne).

It’s nice to see someone as talented and sought-after in the industry not take themselves so seriously (i.e. Tom Cruise in “Austin Powers in Goldmember” or Jack Nicholson in “Anger Management”). In “Leatherheads,” Clooney lets it all hang out like he did in “O Brother, Where Out Thou?” and it works.

In the film, Clooney plays Jimmy “Dodge” Connelly, the captain of the Deluth Bulldogs, a professional football team in the ’20s. During this era, the sport was not what we know it as today. No one comes to the games and his entire team is made up of “miners, farmers, and shell-shocked veterans.” Although the players have passion for the sport, everyone else sees it as a spectacle more than anything else.

The football games everyone is watching instead are in the college ranks. With young, strapping players like Carter Rutherford (John Krasinski) from Princeton, who just happens to be a war hero, there’s more to watch during these games that trick plays and 300-pound linemen trying to kick field goals. Carter is the poster boy for collegiate athletes and everyone wants a piece of him.

This includes Dodge and sparky newspaper reporter Lexie Littleton (Renée Zellweger). Dodge wants Carter to join his ragtag team and invigorate the league when he finds out they are going bankrupt. On the other hand, Lexie has learned of some shocking allegations about Carter’s time in the war and wants to find out if his battalion heroics are the truth or the result of tall tales.

“Leatherheads” is gawky at times, but never fumbles. It’s an entertaining take in the world of sports most of us have probably only seen on black and white photos. Boys will like the football (there’s not much of it) and the silly laughs, while girls will like the way it sort of feels like “A League of their Own,” but on the gridiron. Think of Clooney as the reincarnation of Spencer Tracy and Zellweger as Katharine Hepburn and you’ll do just fine.