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LEATHERHEADS ($40) is director/star George Clooney’s loving homage to screwball comedies of yesteryear, and for fans of that particular genre, the film serves as a simple cinematic delight. Set in the 1920’s, LEATHERHEADS features Clooney as Jimmy 'Dodge' Connelly, a slightly over-the-hill professional football player, looking to turn the game and his career into something bankable, after his team, the Duluth Bulldogs, goes bankrupt. It seems that professional football was something of a joke during the 1920’s; as the game had few fans and in no way resembled the moneymaking enterprise that it is today. By stark contrast, college football was adored by its legions of fans and Carter "the Bullet" Rutherford (John Krasinski) is the game’s brightest star, owing to the fact that he is also a returning war hero.

With the Bulldogs down for the count, Dodge pitches a deal to promoter C.C. Frazier (Jonathan Pryce) that signs Carter to his pro-team to draw in fans and fills everyone’s pockets. Of course, there is a fly in every ointment, and this fly comes in the form of lovely lady reporter Lexie Littleton (Renée Zellweger), whose job is to snuggle up to Carter, then do a hatchet job on his supposed heroic war record. As I stated above, LEATHERHEADS is loving homage to screwball comedies of yesteryear, and the film does remind one many of those classics, with HIS GIRL FRIDAY always sticking in the back of my mind as the one I would most compare it to, in terms of chemistry. Clooney definitely has the whole Cary Grant thing going on; Zellweger does a decent interpretation of Rosalind Russell’s tough lady reporter, while Krasinski nails Ralph Bellamy’s romantic third wheel. The cast of LEATHERHEADS also features Stephen Root, Wayne Duvall, Keith Loneker, Malcolm Goodwin, Matt Bushell, Tommy Hinkley, Tim Griffin, Robert Baker, Nick Paonessa and Nicholas Bourdages.

Universal Studios Home Entertainment has made LEATHERHEADS available on Blu-ray Disc in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the VC-1 codec. The 1080p transfer is truly excellent in reproducing the film’s intended look. LEATHERHEADS features a slightly stylized cinematography that antiques the image by adding a sepia quality to the colors, while also emulating a somewhat more glamorized style to the close-up, which is how film’s were photographed when screwball comedies were in vogue. Image sharpness and detail is really good throughout, with the close-ups producing an excellent level of fine detail. Additionally, the image always produces a nice dimensional quality. Colors can be a little subdued, but bright warm hues are rendered with impressive saturation. Blacks are velvety and whites are crisp. Contrast and shadow detail also get high marks. The elements from which LEATHERHEADS are transferred appear virtually pristine. Grain is present, but maintains a nice film-like quality to the presentation.

LEATHERHEADS is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. For the most party this is a standard talky comedy mix, with some directional flourishes for the football game sequences. Dialogue sequences are rendered with a nice sense of atmospherics and realistic acoustic space. Directional effects come into play generally only when the players are on the field. Fidelity is truly excellent; in fact, this is where the track scores a touchdown- Randy Newman’s score adds a general sense of fun to the proceedings and maintains the period flavor. The bass channel adds some weight, but doesn’t have much to do otherwise. Voices have a warm, natural quality, plus the film’s dialogue is always completely understandable. French and Spanish DTS 5.1 channel tracks are also encoded onto the disc, as are English, French and Spanish subtitles.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as some nice supplements. Starting things off is a running Audio Commentary with director/star George Clooney and producer Grant Heslov. Universal's U-Control interface is utilized for an interactive version of the movie that provides in context picture-in-picture, pop-up supplements (requires a Profile 1.1 player). From U-Control one can also access the picture-in-picture Video Commentary with Clooney and Heslov.

LEATHERHEADS is a delightful, nostalgic trip back to the screwball comedy well. The Blu-ray presentation is beautiful to look at and sounds just fine. If you are a classic film buff, or just a Clooney fan, you’ll definitely get a kick out of LEATHERHEADS.



Leatherheads [Blu-ray] (2008)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2008 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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