Story

Leatherheads is set in 1925, when professional football attracted no fans and no money. This was in contrast to college football, which was played in large stadiums and attracted large crowds. Dodge Connolly (George Clooney) is the charismatic 45-year-old owner/captain of the ‘Bulldogs’, a pro-football team, which along with the entire pro-football league is on the verge of financial collapse. But Dodge has a plan to save his team, and recruits a young college football golden boy named Carter Rutherford (John Krasinski). Carter, who is handsome and dashing, attracts crowds of 40 000 to a game. He is also a WWI hero, who single-handedly forced the surrender of a platoon of German soldiers.

Dodge plans to use all of Carter’s qualities to attract fans, pack the stadiums, make lots of money and save pro-football. This is exactly what happens until Lexie Littleton (Renee Zellweger), an attractive hard-nosed reporter for the Tribune, enters the picture with plans of digging up dirt on Carter.

Themes

Dirty tactics in sport

Violence

Leatherheads contains slapstick-like violence, which occurs both on and off the sports field. For example:

  • Rough play in football games football games includes players being put into headlocks, pulled to the ground and jumped on by several other players in a ‘pile-on’, and tackled and slammed to the ground. 
  • A game that is forfeited results in an on-field brawl in which players are punched in the face and bitten. A wooden sign is smashed over the head of one of the players. There are no visible injuries resulting from the violence.
  • During a game, a player kicks a football into the groin of another player, and then kicks the ball into a group of spectators, knocking over several of them. During the same game, a player is told to knock out anyone who gets in the way. This results in several players and the referee being punched.  
  • There is a flashback scene of a WWI battle scene where soldiers in trenches are shot at with bullets whizzing past. German soldiers stand up and surrender to Americans.
  • Dodge and Lexie are in a speakeasy that is raided by police with people running and scrambling in all directions. Dodge and Lexie run away and are chased by a policeman, who shoots at and misses them. Dodge and Lexie reach the roof of the building to find a man about to commit suicide by jumping off of the roof with people on the ground shouting ‘Johnny please come down’. There are firemen standing on the ground with a jump-net to catch the jumper. Dodge and Lexie jump and are caught in the firemen’s net. There are no injuries.
  • Carter, who appears somewhat intoxicated, confronts Dodge in an antagonistic manner, but before the confrontation progresses too far, Carter’s sleeve catches fire from a burning candle with Carter running around in a frantic attempt to but the flames out.
  • Carter challenges Dodge to a fight over Lexie. Before the fight commences the pair agree  to punch each other only in the face, which they consider to be the only safe area. They punch each other several times in the face until both are knocked to the ground. The fight continues for an extended period of time until both parties are too exhausted to fight. Neither displays any sign of harm or injury.
  • In one bar-room scene a man picks up a young boy (12 years old) in an aggressive and threatening manner. Dodge challenges the man and he puts the boy down with a bar-room brawl erupting in response.
  • A bar room brawl involves punches to the face and stomach, the biting of fingers and bottles being smashed over heads. Following the fight, the perpetrators are shown with cuts and bruises to the face.
  • During the game between the Bulldogs and Chicago, Dodge deliberately punches a player in the face knocking the player unconscious. During the same game a player is ‘piled-on’ by other players. When the players get up, he is squashed into the muddy ground to such an extent that he is no longer visible. When the man is finally pulled from the mud, he is gasping for breath. 

Content that may disturb children

Under 8

Apart from the above-mentioned violent scenes, there is nothing in the film that is likely to disturb children in this age group.

From 8-13

Apart from the above-mentioned violent scenes, there is nothing in the film that is likely to disturb children in this age group.

Over 13

Children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this film.

Sexual references

Leatherheads contains some mild sexual references and innuendo. For example:

  • Lexie makes the comment, ‘Because I have the best legs in the office’. A coworker responds, ‘No, Joe does’.
  • While in a hotel lobby, a man sitting with Lexie tells her that he likes her dress. Lexie realises that the man is making an unwanted romantic pass at her. She tells the man, ‘You’re acting like a big baby because your substituting my bosoms for your mother’s’. Lexie goes on to make the man feel uncomfortable about her use of the term ‘bosoms’ until the man becomes totally flustered and walks away.
  • Dodge refers to Lexie being like a ‘cocktail that comes on like sugar and gives a kick in the head’.
  • Dodge finds himself in the same train sleeper carriage as Lexie. Dodge is on the top bunk and Lexie on the bottom. After some verbal banter, Lexie says to Dodge, ‘You want to play dirty?’ Dodge responds, ‘Maybe later. I’m a little tired now’. Referring to sharing the sleeper, Lexie says, ‘It’s my first time’. Dodge replies, ‘They all say that’.
  • One man makes the comment, ‘She knows her stuff’, referring to Lexie. A second man replies, ‘I say he knows her stuff’, in reference to a man travelling with Lexie.
  • A man comments, ‘You’re only as young as the woman you feel’.
  • Lexie deliberately mispronounces the name of a woman in Dodge’s company by calling her Miss ‘Nipplewidth’.
  • In an attempt to insult Lexie by referring to her as a prostitute, Carter tells Dodge, ‘Maybe I should have left twenty bucks on the sideboard’.
  • Lexie tells a man, ‘I’ve got great legs’. The man responds, ‘It’s the first thing I noticed’.         
  • When Lexie walks into a press booth containing only male reporters, the other reporters appear surprised to see her. One reporter suggests that she used her sexual wiles to gain her job.   

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

There is some use of substances in this movie. For example:

  • Lexie smokes cigarettes continuously throughout the movie.
  • Men smoke cigars in several scenes.
  • Two 12-year-old boys smoke cigarettes.
  • Several footballers smoke cigarettes during warm-ups.
  • Men swig alcohol from hip flasks throughout the film.
  • The movie contains scenes in ‘speakeasies’ where both men and women smoke cigarettes and consume alcohol with vigour. People drink spirits poured from jar-like bottles.  In one such scene following a brawl between male patrons, the brawlers are depicted singing in an intoxicated manner with their arms around each other’s shoulders, while swigging down large mugs of beer.  
  • Carter holds an almost empty bottle from which he drinks while staggering as if drunk and behaving in an abusive manner. Later Carter, still in an intoxicated state, challenges Dodge to a fistfight with both men knocking each other to the ground. While sitting on the ground, Carter swigs from an almost empty bottle of alcohol.
  • In one bar-room scene, where both men and women are drinking alcohol, a young boy stands on a table holding a large mug of beer. 

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some partial nudity and infrequent very low-level sexual activity in this movie. For example:

  • In one scene, Lexie is shown wearing her slip with the outline of her breasts clearly visible.
  • A man displays his naked torso while dancing in a change room.
  • Lexie and Dodge hold each other close while dancing.
  • Dodge sensuously touches Lexie’s eyes. In response, Lexie passionately kisses Dodge on the lips and he then passionately kisses Lexie. 

Product placement

Coca-Cola is displayed or used in this movie.

Coarse language 

This movie contains infrequent mild coarse language, put-downs and name-calling. 

Ideas to discuss with your children

Leatherhead is a 1930s-style romantic slapstick comedy aimed at adults and older adolescents looking for some light-hearted entertainment. The main messages from this movie are that:

  • Lying or distorting the truth will come back to haunt you later in life
  • Being honest and confessing your lies is the right thing to do
  • Winning honourably is the important thing.

Values in this movie that you could discuss with your children include Dodge’s concern for the welfare of his players. You could also talk about attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

  • the dirty play and tactics used to win games
  • the amount of smoking in the film
  • the consumption of alcohol in the amounts shown.