Synopsis: On the day of the NFL Draft, general manager Sonny Weaver (Costner) has the opportunity to save football in Cleveland when he trades for the number one pick. He must quickly decide what he’s willing to sacrifice in pursuit of perfection as the lines between his personal and professional life become blurred on a life-changing day for a few hundred young men with dreams of playing in the NFL. (c) Lionsgate
Every season, struggling NFL teams place hope in the draft eager to get a fresh start on the season. Recruiting top talent is vital for the future of a team. The pressure to please the fans, ESPN commentators, Grantland writers, and team shareholders is on the line. The sting and embarrassment of defeat is prevalent for Ohio based NFL teams (where I’m from). While the Cincinnati Bengals continue to approve and even playing in playoff games, the Cleveland Browns face mounting hardships. Those specific hardships are played for laughs, dramatic tension, and inspiration in the new corny, old fashioned and charming sports drama Draft Day.
What made Draft Day stick out for me was Kevin Costner’s performance. As Sonny Weaver Jr., the general manager for the Browns, he is shrewd temperament. The backstory of firing his father, Sonny Weaver, popular coach for the Browns dogs him for most of the running time. The dialogue is kinetic and crackles, but not at the speed 21st Century movie goers come to expect with high stakes, behind-the-scenes movies. Draft Day is such an idealized and lighthearted portrayal of the NFL, you’d anticipate a wide-eyed, all smiles Tim Tebow cameo. There is barely any cut throat realism one would expect from an engaging and raw sports drama. Terry Crews (as a former Browns player hoping his son has a shot) and Dennis Leary (the current Browns coach) deliver adequate. Jennifer Garner? Not so much in a miscast role.
Draft Day makes the event of the draft look exciting and could enhance ratings for the telecast. There are many sports cameos featured in the movie (too many to name and let’s not ruin surprises for the fans). I even chuckled when Roger Goddell appears on screen as well as during his additional scenes. It feels a little contrived and forced, but I really enjoyed it. Ivan Reitman directed it and it would have been interesting if his son Jason had made a snappy and witty Moneyball type movie. Or at least show some of the dark side of the NFL a la Any Given Sunday. Regardless, Draft Day will get a pass from critics that enjoy NFL sport (GUILTY!) enough for a recommendation. So take the aggregated Rotten Tomatoes score full of male critics with a grain of salt. If you like the sport of football, the intricate details of business, and the city of Cleveland, than the movie Draft Day is for you!
Draft Day – 6 out of 10