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Film / Leatherheads

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A 2008 sports comedy film about the Duluth Bulldogs, a struggling pro football team in 1925. In order to revive the team, World War I hero Carter "The Bullet" Rutherford (John Krasinski) is recruited to the team, at the suggestion of team captain Jimmy "Dodge" Connelly (George Clooney).

This appears to be working until a reporter, Lexie (Renée Zellweger), uncovers the truth: Carter's war hero status was a fluke rather than true heroics.

Meanwhile, Dodge's attempts to get football legitimized backfire on him when the newly formed football league starts outlawing improvised tactics and enforcing rules.

This film provides examples of:

  • Accidental Hero: Carter is hailed as a war hero. In truth, he fell asleep in a trench that was later taken by the Germans, so he attempts to surrender to them, but they think he's one of them and all surrender. Carter's superiors decide to make him a hero for propaganda value.
  • Artistic License – History: The plot of the movie is loosely based on pro football player and coach George Halas signing college athlete Harold "Red" Grange to the Chicago Bears in 1925. Also, the Bulldogs in real life were based in Canton, Ohio. The name of the team based in Duluth, Minnesota at the time was called the Eskimos.
  • Big Game: Played with a little, as the "Big Game" turns into an ugly, boring, nearly scoreless scrap in the mud that is finally won by "improvisational tactics" (read: cheating).
  • Betty and Veronica: Dodge and Carter to Lexie.
  • Bitter Sweet Ending: Dodge successfully makes pro football a legitimate sport with Carter's help. However, in doing so a new set of rules and regulations were put into place outlawing many (if not all) of Dodge's tactics and when Dodge blatantly cheats to win in his game against Carter, he is kicked out of professional football by the new commissioner. The movie does end on a happy note as Dodge rides off into the sunset with Lexie and we see a photo of the two getting married during the credits.
  • Down to the Last Play: The movie ends with a mud-covered game that seems destined to end with an ugly 3-0 scoreline until Dodge cheats to score the only touchdown.
  • Fake Ultimate Hero: Carter is revealed to be an Accidental Hero. He and his squad were planning to surrender to the Germans and had learned to say "I surrender" in German, but Carter fell asleep in a trench, which was then abandoned and taken by the Germans. Carter realizes his helpless situation and attempts to surrender to them, but they mistake him for one of them and surrender to the Americans (the German Army was badly demoralised at this point). His commanders decide to cover it up and make him a hero similar to Sergeant York for the propaganda value.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Lexie
  • Love Triangle: Between Dodge, Carter, and Lexie.
  • The Roaring '20s
  • Romantic Comedy: A throwback to the Screwball Comedy variety common in the 1930s.