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Movie review: ‘Draft Day’, 2.8 out of 10, harder to watch than the Browns

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Draft Day

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2.8 out of 10

Draft Day” is what you get when you take a great idea for a movie, put a sleepwalker in the lead role and produce a boring, emotionless sports film.

Any spoilers will be clearly marked so you can avoid reading them if you so choose.

Draft Dayopens in Baltimore on April 10, 2014.

The Good

Unfortunately, this section will be small for “Draft Day”. Football fans will love the fact that this movie uses real NFL teams, and has a lot of former players and stars alongside real TV personalities. Most filmmakers just don’t bother paying the hefty NFL licensing fees to use real teams and logos (ie. “Any Given Sunday”, “The Replacements”, etc.) It was very cool to see some of your favorite teams represented. It was also nice to see a few stars who decided to have brief cameos in the film. Of course, you won’t have those spoiled here in case you decide to waste your time on this film.

Some of the supporting cast members were good. Patrick St. Esprit, who plays the Seattle Seahawks General Manager, a brief appearance by CSI’s Wallace Langham as the Kansas City Chiefs GM, Cleveland Browns strength coach played by Brad William Henke, and Denis Leary as Browns Coach Penn all come to mind. These guys, and a few others, are fun to watch.

The Bad

Why does it feel like Kevin Costner just sleepwalks through the filming of a movie? Has he ever been deep or dynamic? Well, he certainly doesn’t break his streak in “Draft Day”. Good grief. He is so one-dimensional that you would get more entertainment from a hamster in a plastic ball. This film rested solely on the back of that one character. And, for some reason, Costner got the nod. With a great performance from this lead role, “Draft Day” may have jumped up to around a 7 and would have been worthy of your time. That is how pivotal this role was and how badly Costner fumbled it.

Ok, so “Draft Day” is not your traditional sports film. But, it does follow a lot of the same formula steps. The first 75% of the movie is build-up to that big moment. You know, the one where the player makes that game-winning play, or Seabiscuit makes his move to win the race. That moment when it takes all of your self-control to stay in your seat instead of jumping up with both hands in the air. “Draft Day” attempted this. Obviously, that moment was going to be as the draft is actually happening. So, the writers had to do something to make that exciting. They chose to go with a scenario that was incredibly unbelievable. Sure, it’s a movie. But, it’s a sports movie. As audience members we want that fantastic moment to be something we can buy into. A feat that someone or something could actually pull off. This time we get a guy who stumbles into a lucky outcome and then looks like a genius.

Here are a couple explanation points and other things in the spoiler section below.

[SPOILERS BELOW]
Ok, first of all, the Seahawks with the #1 overall pick? I know it’s a movie, but let’s pick a team that may not be the defending Super Bowl champions when the film releases.

There are a couple General Managers in the NFL who may gamble, predicting a crazy outcome like the one that played out in this film (go Ozzie Newsome!). But, no GM would ever trade 3 first round draft picks to move from the #7 pick to the #1 pick, without thinking the gamble through, if the guy he wanted all along would probably be around at the #7 pick (and, yes, the film explains that he toiled with the decision to take the sure thing #1 instead of his original pick). You end up paying like $10 million more by making him the first pick and you gave away those future picks for no reason. Sure, the film made that all work out…but, the domino that started it all would never have fallen in the first place.

Good grief did Costner’s character have a lot of free time on draft day. It seems like he could take a personal break whenever he wanted, as if his job security and the future of the team didn’t rest solely on what he did that day.
[END SPOILERS]

The Bottom Line

“Draft Day” was a really cool idea for a film. It is something that has not been explored much in film. The NFL draft is a crazy day and a glimpse behind the curtain at what really goes on, or what the filmmakers think goes on, is a great idea for a movie. Sadly, this particular film leaves a lot to be desired. Costner is incredibly boring to watch, his character’s personal stories do not add depth, but simply detract from the football part of the film, and the supporting cast appears burdened, trying to lift the project up after his performance drags it down. The story is not believable, and that is an important aspect in an emotional sports film. The climax scene is not worth the long journey through mediocrity. This film dropped the ball and is a total pass.

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