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Review: Draft Day

Draft Day
04.10.2014
100%
7 10

PLOT: The beleaguered general manager of the Cleveland Browns attempts to land a number one draft pick in the hopes of ending his team’s thirteen-year losing streak.

REVIEW: Before MONEYBALL, I doubt anyone could have predicted that the business of sports could make for such intriguing entertainment. Typically, our sports movies take place on the field, with teamwork, perseverance, and game day heroics dominating the genre. Here, guys in suits who finagle, screw each other over, and toy with the destinies of the hottest potential players are our heroes. And you know what? It works.

While DRAFT DAY is no MONEYBALL (very few films are) it’s still pretty compelling material. Smartly written and easily decipherable even if you don’t know a thing about the business of the NFL (which is certainly the case for me), DRAFT DAY is an eye-opening look into a world very few of us ever consider while watching our favorite teams play. A movie like this makes it seem like what happens in the boardroom is at least as important as what happens on the field, with one deviation in the calculation of a team’s winning formula enough to destroy a club’s chances of success before even one game is played.

Star Kevin Costner has a knack for sports drama, and here he’s well-utilized as the clever – if ultimately honest – Cleveland Browns GM, a feared figure made infamous by the fact that he sacked his own beloved coach father a few years before. With his father recently deceased, and his girlfriend/ colleague (Jennifer Garner) pregnant with his child, Costner’s playing a guy under the gun, with the team owner pressing him to pick up a hot draft pick – quarterback Bo Callahan (Josh Pence) , who he’s unsure of. Meanwhile, he also has to contend with the egomaniacal new coach (Denis Leary) and the constant badgering of a controversial pick – Vontae Mack (Chadwick Boseman) – who’s desperate to join the Browns so he can support his orphaned nephews.

DRAFT DAY feels like the kind of movie Costner might have made fifteen years ago when he was in his prime. The only issue with Costner doing it now is that, being fifty-nine, he’s a bit old for the part which seems like it was written for a younger man. However, that’s not too much of a problem as Costner looks a good ten years younger than he actually is, so he works in the part. While Jennifer Garner is sidelined a little too much in her smallish role to really make you invest in the B-plot of him being a reluctant father, when it comes to the biz parts of the movie (which dominate) Costner is very effective.

The film also marks a high-profile return behind the camera for director Ivan Reitman. Responsible for some of the funniest movies of the eighties (STRIPES, GHOSTBUSTERS), DRAFT DAY is a mostly serious departure. It’s occasionally funny, but it’s not a comedy. Reitman does a good job making the business of the draft – including the inside deal making between teams – easy to follow. The only real problem with Reitman’s direction is his goofy use of split-screen. While this is probably necessary for a movie that has people spending so much time on the phone, a gimmick where people move out of their portion of the screen and wave their hands or walk across the opposite portion gets tiresome. It’s the kind of visual quirk that’s going to date the movie in the years to come. Sometimes less is more, and one wishes this gimmick were dropped as it’s never cool and always distracting.

In addition to Costner, DRAFT DAY boasts a really solid supporting cast. Boseman, who made a big impression in last year’s sports-sleeper 42, has a good part as one of the more conscientious, if arrogant, players involved in the draft. Tom Welling, of SMALLVILLE fame, pops up as the Browns' quarterback who, at only thirty, is already seen as potentially being washed up. Leary’s his usual brash self as the fast-talking new coach, although the character isn’t quite the cartoon you might assume given his early scenes. Even Sean Combs manages to impress in his small part as a slick sports agent out to net his client a multi-million dollar deal.

While DRAFT DAY is certainly not your typical sports movie, it’s certainly an intriguing one and should play well to the same audience that made MONEYBALL a hit. It’s a pretty solid two hours of entertainment, and while the aforementioned split-screen gimmick is an eyesore, it doesn’t distract too badly from what’s overall a pretty good film. It’s definitely worth seeing, and a good comeback part for Costner.

Source: JoBlo.com

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+0
7:07PM on 04/10/2014
Very surprised. I thought trailers made it look cheesy as hell.
Very surprised. I thought trailers made it look cheesy as hell.
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+1
11:56AM on 04/10/2014

Always enjoyed Kevin Costner. 15 years ago and this would've been Jerry Maguire 2

Ummm.....Moneyball, Moneyball, Moneyball. Did Chris not see Jerry Maguire? If this film was made 15 years ago it would've been to close to Jerry Maguire.
I'm not sure what it is, I know so many people who are not fans of Costner. Yes, the guy has been in some "so-so" to "awful" films, but I've always enjoyed his screen presence. Just like Bruce Willis. I would love to see Costner get another Oscar worthy performance, the man is capable of great performances. JFK, Dances With Wolves, Bull
Ummm.....Moneyball, Moneyball, Moneyball. Did Chris not see Jerry Maguire? If this film was made 15 years ago it would've been to close to Jerry Maguire.
I'm not sure what it is, I know so many people who are not fans of Costner. Yes, the guy has been in some "so-so" to "awful" films, but I've always enjoyed his screen presence. Just like Bruce Willis. I would love to see Costner get another Oscar worthy performance, the man is capable of great performances. JFK, Dances With Wolves, Bull Durham, Silverado, Field of Dreams.
I agree with suzy777, while he's had some "so-so" films, he's still been good in recent films like Thirteen Day, Open Range, Mr. Brooks, and Man of Steel.
Glad to hear this may be a good film for both Costner and Ivan Reitman, who by the way I did not know was the director until now.
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1:27PM on 04/10/2014
VERY different from Jerry Maguire. That was a very emotional story. This is far more business-oriented.
VERY different from Jerry Maguire. That was a very emotional story. This is far more business-oriented.
3:04PM on 04/11/2014
Hey Chris. Was shocked to see you responded. Thanks.
No doubt this film looks to be more business (Moneyball) than romance (Jerry Maguire) which is a clear cut difference between the two films. My comment dealt with the "Costner doing this 15 years ago". The NFL backdrop, Costner depending on a particular underdog player (or maybe players in this case), a sideline love interest in the story. 15 years ago, only 3 years after Jerry Maguire's success, it may have come off as a "wanna be/play off"
Hey Chris. Was shocked to see you responded. Thanks.
No doubt this film looks to be more business (Moneyball) than romance (Jerry Maguire) which is a clear cut difference between the two films. My comment dealt with the "Costner doing this 15 years ago". The NFL backdrop, Costner depending on a particular underdog player (or maybe players in this case), a sideline love interest in the story. 15 years ago, only 3 years after Jerry Maguire's success, it may have come off as a "wanna be/play off" of Jerry Maguire.
BUT......I have not seen Draft Day, but I do hope to. I've always enjoyed a good Costner and Reitman film.
11:23AM on 04/10/2014
I was there regardless of the review.

GO BROWNS!!!!
I was there regardless of the review.

GO BROWNS!!!!
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9:53AM on 04/10/2014
As a guy who is more intrigued by the business side of sports than the games themselves (by a slim margin) Draft Day has been high on my list for a while. Fun Fact: I believe the original screenplay was number 1 on the Blacklist at one point. No wonder it's so good. And yes, they probably should've cast someone 30-40 years old for Costner's role, but Costner is so great it probably doesn't matter. Though, if they had cast younger, going by Costner's presence/style in the trailers, I think I'd
As a guy who is more intrigued by the business side of sports than the games themselves (by a slim margin) Draft Day has been high on my list for a while. Fun Fact: I believe the original screenplay was number 1 on the Blacklist at one point. No wonder it's so good. And yes, they probably should've cast someone 30-40 years old for Costner's role, but Costner is so great it probably doesn't matter. Though, if they had cast younger, going by Costner's presence/style in the trailers, I think I'd pick…Ben Affleck, oddly enough. I could see him delivering the same lines in the same scenes and working, but also being reminiscent of a young lion like Theo Epstein.
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+2
9:52AM on 04/10/2014

Comeback???

The guy never went away. Sheeesh.
The guy never went away. Sheeesh.
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8:23AM on 04/10/2014
Movie looks solid with a good cast.

But I might go see Winter Soldier again before I see this one for the first time.
Movie looks solid with a good cast.

But I might go see Winter Soldier again before I see this one for the first time.
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3:37AM on 04/10/2014
I was about to make the same comparison of this movie to Moneyball. I think I'm going to enjoy this.
I was about to make the same comparison of this movie to Moneyball. I think I'm going to enjoy this.
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