It wasn't filmed in Duluth, and it shows.
The movie "Leatherheads," starring George Clooney and Renée Zellweger, follows a team called the Duluth Bulldogs in the early days of professional football. Shot mostly in the Carolinas, the film has few visual clues that point to Duluth except for building names.
Jane Rohlf, one of about 90 people invited to a Thursday screening at Duluth 10, said the only thing that reminded her that the action was taking place in Duluth were the frequent mentions of the city's name in the dialogue. Unlike other films, such as "Fargo" and "North Country," none of the characters sport Minnesota accents.
"I didn't see a lot of references to the city," said Rohlf, who lives in Duluth. "There were no [actual Duluth] buildings."
Ella Andler of Duluth said the lack of local sights didn't prevent her from enjoying the film.
"Even if it's not all about Duluth it's still a nice show," she said.
The romantic comedy, directed and produced by Clooney, opens April 4. It's loosely based on the story of the Duluth Eskimos and the birth of the National Football League.
In the movie, Clooney plays football player Dodge Connelly, an aging team captain who wants to legitimize his struggling team's "anything goes" playing style by creating a professional league.
His strategy is to recruit war hero and Princeton University football star Carter Rutherford ("The Office's" John Krasinski) to play for the Bulldogs. Meanwhile the Chicago Tribune has assigned Zellweger's Lexie Littleton to expose Rutherford's war story as fraudulent. Both men end up falling for the quick-witted reporter.
A witty repartee between Lexie and Dodge elicited gasps and laughs from Thursday's audience: "You think you're the slickest operator in Duluth," she says. "But being the slickest operator in Duluth is like being the world's tallest midget, if you ask me." (For what it's worth, Lexie apologizes for the remark later in the film.)
In between the Carter-Lexie-Dodge love triangle and a few bar brawls is, of course, a whole lot of football.
Gary Radosevich, director of operations for the Duluth-Superior Shoremen football team, deemed the movie "fantastic" but said there wasn't quite enough game time for him. "Too much romance, not enough football" was his joking assessment.
Shoremen wide receiver Hollis Dukes said the filmmakers could have shown more about Duluth, but he'd give it an eight out of 10.
Even though the film focuses on its characters instead of its setting, Clooney and Zellweger are scheduled to visit Duluth on Monday. They'll hold a news conference at 11 a.m. and make a public appearance outside the Depot's West Michigan Street entrance at 1 p.m.
Joan Koski of Duluth said the only thing she didn't like about the movie was that it didn't guarantee her a house call from Clooney. She said she'd like to invite him over for a Budweiser, but would settle for a photo with him Monday.