Universal ( 114 minutes) $ 39.95
LEATHERHEADS is one of those movies that made me crestfallen that I didn’t like it more. Not because George Clooney is a name I can’t say without an accompanying little sigh ( although, sigh ), but because it’s an idea that I so wanted to work. And it almost does. Clooney, who also directed, plays Jimmy ‘‘ Dodge’’ Connelly, an ageing football player in the 1920s, when professional football was on the verge of becoming respectable. With his team in dire straits, the wily and charming Dodge recruits a young college football star and war hero Carter Rutherford ( The Office’s John Krasinski), just as an ambitious young reporter, Lexie Littleton ( Renee Zellweger), starts to poke a few holes in Carter’s fighting record. As a modern Cary Grant, Clooney is the ideal man to bring back screwball romantic comedies and it’s great to see rom- coms that appeal to an older audience. Clooney continues to show a flair for evoking a film’s period setting in his third directorial effort, and the moments that charm are outstanding: the crackling, sexual tension- laced banter between Lexie and Dodge is fun to wade into and the pair’s pursuit by the police is silly fun. But there are just too many stories on the go to allow viewers to invest in any of them, and overall the film just doesn’t feel snappy enough. It’s probably only a 21/ star effort but I felt compelled to add another half in acknowledgement of what it tries to achieve.