While they don't necessarily fit at first glance, the high drama of pro sports and the cinema quite often go together like peanut butter and jelly. Even though, "Draft Day" has its fair share of moments that get more than a little ridiculous, it all manages to hold together thanks to some well executed sequences and the charisma of a leading man who seems born and bred for the sports movie.
On the day of the NFL Draft, general manager Sonny Weaver (Kevin Costner) has the opportunity to save football in Cleveland when he trades for the number one pick. But he gives up a king's ransom for it and 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.
From a factual standpoint, a lot of the events that take place in "Draft Day" are actually just over exaggerated nonsense. However, director Ivan Reitman manages somewhat of a return to form with this unique work place comedy that actually gets you engaged into the sports drama that unfolds around these characters.
Despite the football events in this film being very exaggerated, it is actually the glue that holds it all together at the same time. Reitman keeps a measured tone throughout as the premise of everything happening on this very dramatic day allows us to buy into all the drama that unfolds before our eyes.
It's a well paced and balanced script as relatively inexperienced writers Scott Rothman and Rajiv Joseph don't overload the laymen with sports jargon that we won't understand or lean far too heavily on the drama being felt by those young men being drafted and the teams that have to determine the fates of their teams future. The work place love story and family drama elements of it all allows it to reach out more than it should and gives us breaks between players , coaches, agents and executives shouting at one another and makes it feel more relatable. It's a credit to all involved as this could have all gone off the rails into cliché filled territory pretty quickly.
I admit that any hard core football fans will be annoyed to death by this one considering the absurdity of some of the trades and business that goes down, it stays together thanks to the strength of these characters who just love, almost more than anything the sport of football.
Kevin Costner was seemingly made for sports movies and westerns, and after a misstep this year in the disappointing "3 Days To Kill" he returns to form here as the embattled General Manager of the Cleveland Browns. He takes his Sonny Weaver Jr, a man who grew up around football (his dad was a coach) and makes us believe he is this tortured soul who has today and today only to genuinely make his mark in this game that he has spent his life in. In this type of leading man role, without any overly dramatic stakes, that allows him to be simultaneously serious and sardonic, Costner simply excels and there is no questioning that this is his wheel house. The rest of the ensemble is a bit of a mixed bag from the inspired with Dennis Leary as his arrogant head coach who replaced his dad, the great Frank Langella as the scenery chewing owner and Chadwick Boseman as the defensive back looking to prove what he can do when leading a pro defense. While some casting choices like Jennifer Garner as the team's salary cap advisor, Ellen Burstyn as his mother and Sean 'P Diddy' Combs as a flashy hotshot agent either felt like a waste or simply unnecessary stunt casting.
At the end of the day, don't get wrapped up in the football facts of "Draft Day" and just allow yourself to enjoy the drama and entertainment value in these events that surround one of the more popular sports on the planet. If you can do that, this movie will work just fine as a fun night out at the movies.
3 out of 5 stars.
"Draft Day" is now open in theatres all across the country, please check with your local listings for show times.