George Clooney loses the proverbial thread with his third directorial outing Leatherheads, a 1920s football saga that blends rusty screwball comedy and perfunctory romance under a period piece veneer. Clooney is Dodge Connelly, the leader of a ragamuffin pro football team during an era when the sport was played with few pads, no rules, and in fields of grazing cows. When he hears that his squad is about to fold, Dodge sets in motion a scheme to recruit legendary high school player and celebrated WWI hero Carter Rutherford (The Office’s John Krasinski), who’s accompanied by a devious agent (Jonathan Pryce) and a tough-cookie reporter named Lexie Littleton (Renée Zellweger) who’s secretly planning to expose Carter’s combat heroism as a charade. Clooney means to generate humor from the resultant romantic triangle between Dodge, Carter and Lexie, but his script delivers neither zippy dialogue nor dynamic scenarios, leaving his “screwball” sequences sluggish and limp. The rest of the film fares similarly, seeing as it charts Dodge and Lexie’s budding affair with a dewy earnestness undeserved by this chemistry-free pairing’s shrug-worthy amour. All the while, Clooney (working from a script by Duncan Brantley and Rick Reilly that he reportedly also had a hand in penning) perplexingly avoids concentrating on the quirky particulars of anything-goes ‘20s pigskin. Consequently, he thoroughly sabotages a climax in which Dodge is ordered to avoid using illegal trick plays during the big game, a directive that’s meant to spell monumental trouble but – because his team’s reliance on such chicanery hasn’t been previously established – just seems random and tacked-on.