Review - Draft Day

Draft Day (2014), PG-13, 109 minutes - I must apologize, I've gotten a little behind the last couple of weeks.  My wife and I are in the process of selling our house and the last few weekends have been reserved more for yard work and de-cluttering than theater hopping.  I actually saw this film a couple weeks back when we had some rainy weather that wasn't allowing me to work on the yard.

2014 seems to be a year of resurgence for Kevin Costner.  Over the past four years, he appeared in only two films: The Company Men (2010), and last summer's Man of Steel.  Draft Day is his third film to hit theaters already in 2014 and it is only April (the others being Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit and Three Days to Kill).  It also marks his return to a genre that he is arguably the king of: the sports film.  

Draft Day, as one could guess by its terribly cryptic name, is about the NFL Draft and the wheelings and dealings employed by the teams involved (but focusing primarily on the Cleveland Browns).  Browns GM Sonny Weaver Jr. (Costner) begins the day with his eyes on one player in particular - Vontae Mack (Chadwick Boseman) - while the rest of the franchise believes the team will select the son of one of their former players - Ray Jennings (Arian Foster).  Then a phone call from Seattle Seahawks GM Tom Michaels (Patrick St. Esprit) changes everything.  He offers to trade the Browns the number one pick in the draft in exchange for Cleveland's first round pick this year as well as their first round pick for the next three years.  Cleveland's history of losing and being unable to supply their loyal fan base with a quality club weigh heavy on Weaver and he makes the trade.  This throws his day into chaos as the Browns now have nothing impeding them from taking supposed 'can't miss' Quarterback prospect Bo Callahan (Josh Pence).  The day falls to chaos as Weaver juggles the fallout of the trade within his organization as well as some personal baggage that coincidentally comes to a head the day of the draft courtesy of his mother (Ellen Burstyn) and girlfriend/team salary cap guru Ali (Jennifer Garner).

Costner is far and away the highlight of this film.  A film that is otherwise quite formulaic.  Even a non-football fan could predict the outcome about half way through.  Despite this fact, and that Draft Day is a blatant 109 minute long ad for the actual NFL Draft (coming up in a couple more weeks), Costner's charisma (along with that of Frank Langella, Denis Leary, and even Garner) makes for a very enjoyable film.  In my opinion Bull Durham and Field of Dreams still reign as Costner's best sports films, but I'd say that Draft Day is on par with Tin Cup or For Love of the Game.  If you enjoy the NFL at all, you'll more than likely enjoy this film.  For those that aren't football fans, don't worry.  Draft Day is a film about one of the most exciting days on the football calendar, but there isn't really much actual football in it.












*****SPOILERS*****

- I may be nit-picking a little, but there's no way the Seattle Seahawks would hold the first pick in the draft after winning the Super Bowl this past season.  Sure, this is a fictional film and can take certain story telling liberties, but at every other opportunity that arises in the film, they reference actual NFL history.  They could have easily swapped the Seahawks out for a more believable team and it would have felt more true to the current NFL landscape.

- For non-sports fans, the character of Ray Jennings was played by actual Houston Texans running back Arian Foster.

- NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell as well as a long list of NFL commentators/analysts/former players (including Chris Berman, Mel Kiper, Jon Gruden, Deion Sanders, Rich Eisen, Ray Lewis, Jim Brown and Bernie Kosar) make cameos. 

- Other recognizable faces in the cast: Chi McBride (Walt Gordon), Terry Crews (Earl Jennings), Sean Combs (Chris Crawford), Tom Welling (Brian Drew), W. Earl Brown (Ralph Mowry), Sam Elliott (Coach Moore), Kevin Dunn (Marvin).

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