By Phe’dre Von Kallenbach
The movie opens with John Krasinski’s character, “Carter Rutherford”, playing college-level football for Princeton at a bleacher-groaning, over-packed game chock full of screaming patrons and die-hard fans. The kid is a golden-child, a war hero, and the nation’s most promising young athlete in the good old year of 1925. Carter is dynamic, attractive, and exactly what the country needs at a time of World War I. It is little wonder his face plasters billboards across town, that his name is uttered with awe and adoration. In truth, how could you not? The kid had, after all, single-handedly forced a contingent of German soldiers to surrender without even shooting one bullet.
Cut to George Clooney’s character, the aging “Dodge Connelly”, playing pro-football in mire-like conditions; his audience a tangle of bored fans and uninspired locals. It is a far cry from the opulent circumstance of college-level football. Men, bedraggled and sweating under the promise of returning to work at the mines and fields if their football dreams go under, play with reckless abandon and forgotten morals in hopes of winning that next game. Yet, as fate will go, the Bulldogs lose their sponsorship and the team goes under, forcing men to return to their day-jobs and leaving Dodge without a future. The man has no marketable skills, no trade. He is a football player and is determined to see his team back in the game.
Of course, that isn’t the only bit of chaos. There has to be a girl; there is always a girl involved in stories like these. Enter RenÃ©e Zellweger’s character, the vivacious and equally tenacious “Lexie Littleton” – a news reporter for the Tribune. Lexie is on a mission to expose Carter Rutherford and get to the bottom of his infamous war story. It comes to no surprise that when Lexie and Dodge meet in a hotel lobby awaiting the arrival of Carter Rutherford and his manager, “CC Frazier” (played by Jonathan Pryce), that sparks immediately fly between them. Dodge has a proposal for CC and Carter: have Carter take a leave of absence from Princeton to play pro-football for the Bulldogs, thus saving pro-football and paying Carter for his efforts. Naturally, CC wants a cut from the profits and finds a way to do so to accommodate his own needs. Dodge, without any other alternative, agrees.
Meanwhile, Lexie is working her magic on Carter to try and weasel the true story out of him as best she can. Try as she might she cannot ignore Dodge, no matter how acid her tongue wags in his direction. In the end, Lexie gets her story yet realizes she must decide between exposing the truth or letting America bask in the glory of its self-proclaimed war-hero.
In review, there is a true chemistry between all of the main characters and both Zellweger and Clooney do a good job of conveying the vehement (and callous) emotion between Lexie and Dodge. However, no matter how funny the banter becomes between these three main characters or how well the scene plugs along, in the end the movie comes off as a passable but by no means memorable. Betimes it seems to stretch on and on and more then once I found myself looking at my clock. In truth, the movie didn’t need to be nearly two hours long. It felt two hours long which is never a good thing, especially when we’re talking about theatre seats.
That said, I thought the movie was a cute and enjoyable comedy. It won’t crack your funny bone but it will certainly tickle it more then once. All in all I give it 3.5 out of 5. It succeeded in making me laugh and did keep me entertained. Above all, I’m sure many will find it enjoyable to some extent.
A featurette on cheeky Clooney; deleted scenes; making-of and effects shorts; commentary.