The Flight of the Red Balloon (Le Voyage Du Ballon Rouge).

Starring George Clooney and Renee Zellweger. Directed by George Clooney.
Running Time: 113mins.
Rated: Rated PG (mild comedic violence and coarse language)
This is a light mixture of sports story and screwball romantic comedy. The setting is 1925. The sport is professional American football. The romance is one of those sparring-then-falling-in-love situations between George Clooney and Renee Zellwegger.

Leatherheads may be more popular at home in the US, because, unless an audience is up on the history and the techniques and plays of football, it won't have quite the same impact. There is some interest in seeing something of the transition from amateur college teams to raggedy, then more streamlined money-making clubs (and the end of free-for-all and the introduction of inspectors and rules).

George Clooney is an ageing player who loves the game and sees that a college champion who was a hero in World War I could be such an advantage for his Duluth team that it would lead to a huge fan following. He persuades entrepreneur, Jonathan Pryce, to invest and the young man, John Krazynski, to give up his studies and play the game. In the meantime, ambitious journalist, Renee Zellwegger, is given the commission by her editor, Jack Thompson, to write an article exposing the war hero as a fraud.

Predictable in its way, it is nevertheless a pleasant off-kilter romance, with some sharp lines and audiences feeling sorry for the young player and his crisis and some background to the development of football. (Leatherheads from the leather helmet protection they wore in those days.)

Fr Peter Malone MSC directs the film desk of SIGNIS: the World Association of Catholic Communicators, and is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.

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