Draft Dodging – A Review of Draft Day
Title: Draft Day
Production Company: Summit Entertainment
Run Time: 109 minutes
Director: Ivan Reitman
Stars: Kevin Costner, Jennifer Garner, Chadwick Boseman, Ellen Burstyn, Denis Leary, Tom Welling and a slew of NFL sports personalities in cameo appearances
Summary: Kevin Costner has made a name for himself in sports movies and here he goes again, tackling this tale about the maneuverings and dealings behind the scenes at the 2014 NFL football draft.
I’m not a huge sports fan, but sports movies always get my attention, especially if they’re well thought out and the acting is spot on.
Such is the case with Draft Day, starring Kevin Costner as seasoned owner Sonny Weaver, Jr., a man trying to free himself from his father’s shadow as he picks a line up for the wavering Cleveland Browns.
Much of the storyline is spent on the phone where split screens allow us to view both sides of the conversation as Sonny makes his pitches to his rival owners as they vie to take the number one draft pick.
Of course everyone has their own ulterior motives and not every offer may be as altruistic as it seems. And not every player is as great as the hype that is publicly released.
The trick for Sonny is to weed through everything that he’s presented with to find the truth hopefully before the clock runs down and he has to go public with his choices.
There is some true nail biting excitement here as we learn things about each of the prospective players being considered for the draft.
Chadwick Boseman, who last year made a splash on the big screen playing Jackie Robinson in the critically well received 42, here plays a young hot shot player who just may know something about the league’s top draft choice. Getting people to listen to him, though, is another thing altogether.
Tom Welling (Clark Kent in the television series Smallville) is almost unrecognizable as the Browns’ veteran quarterback who is sitting on pins and needles waiting to find out if he’ll be sidelined if Sonny picks the top rated QB as the first round draftee.
And Denis Leary offers a top notch performance as Coach Penn, who goes toe-to-toe with Sonny over potential picks. After all, he’ll have to work with whatever raw talent Sonny gets for him and he’s not entirely excited about the talent pool that Weaver is considering.
Even though the film is a work of fiction, fans of the game will have fun picking out all the veteran players and officials who make quick cameo appearances throughout the movie. Jim Brown, Deion Sanders, Bernie Kosar and Andre Bello are just a few of the more recognizable among them.
Jennifer Garner offers a well needed female presence in the story. Her relationship with Sonny is both personal and professional since she’s the team’s lawyer. But her out-of-office relationship is decidedly much more impactful on Sonny given the revelation they share on this already stressful day.
And veteran actress Ellen Burstyn adds her own turmoil to the stressful day by presenting her deceased husband’s ashes while asking her son to read a Celtic prayer as they scatter the ashes onto the practice field named in honor of the veteran coach.
This is the type of movie that will appeal to most since it isn’t really about the game but rather about the wheelings and dealings necessary to assemble a championship team for the 2014 season.
In reality, though, it’s a two hour commercial for NFL sports. If you’re a football fan, you’ll love this movie. If you aren’t, you’ll simply enjoy it for the intrigue and excitement generated by the excellent cast of characters and their respective situations.
The film is almost as exciting as watching a football game. I give Draft Day four out of five stars.