Draft Day (2014)

Draft DayReleased: April 11, 2014. Directed by: Ivan Reitman. Starring: Kevin Costner, Jennifer Garner, Patrick St. Esprit. Runtime: 109 min.

Kevin Costner stars in Draft Day, the NFL’s answer to Moneyball. He portrays fictional General Manager of the Cleveland Browns, Sonny Weaver Jr., as he goes through the motions of a generic, off-the-field sports drama. The story follows him on a stressful day: draft day. On this day, many college hopefuls are drafted into the NFL. To express the anticipation of the day, there’s a countdown to the televised event on the screen. Those who don’t like this movie can also use it as a way to estimate how much longer they’ll be in the theatre.

What may give this film a bit more punch is if it were based on a true story. This just feels too much like a commercial flick for the NFL and ESPN. I have nothing against sports dramas that aren’t true, at least if the fiction on-screen is noteworthy. This film is not bad, it just might be better to watch something that will matter history-wise. Football fans might find a stronger merit in this film. During, the pessimist inside me wondered if Ivan Reitman could make the draft day exciting. He does, working suspense into the finale, which is the strongest stretch of the film. It gives the movie more life, and makes it something more than just lightly entertaining. Prior to it, humour and a charming cast make the light entertainment run at a brisk pace.

Director Ivan Reitman tells this drama with style. There’s a main editing style used when characters are on the phone. Sonny will be on one side of the screen, and the person he’s talking to on the other side. Sometimes their arms will go on the other person’s side of the screen. It’s cool because it looks like they’re in the room together, but this effect also shows how much people talk on the phone. It’s a funny contrast to teens who would just text each other if they want to make a trade for their NFL fantasy draft. I’ve literally seen my brother do this so maybe one of the reasons he enjoyed this film is that he can relate to the stresses of having to get a good team together. Some food for thought: are fantasy drafts and this movie NFL draft really that different in this case? This film has fictional football players who have decent backstories, but it doesn’t really mean anything in the longrun, as far as history goes. Same as fantasy drafts, or maybe Madden video games would work better for my argument; if you have one player on your roster for the Cleveland Browns – that doesn’t mean they’re really going to be playing for the Browns in real life.

Anyway, about the characters. Jennifer Garner portrays a pretty exec who manages the salary cap for the Browns. She’s also in a relationship with Costner’s Weaver. He plays the character with charm. Weaver’s ass is on the line because he’s been general manager of the Browns for two seasons, and he hasn’t been leading the team to many victories. If he doesn’t do a good job this year, the city will request his head, so to speak. Sonny is a character living under his father’s shadow. He is the loved, recently deceased coach of the Browns, Sonny Weaver Senior. Junior has people in his ear all day telling him who to pick for the team, so they can be victorious. The film has a message of following you heart and doing what you think is best. This seems like a realistic portrayal of the job of a general manager on draft day. The generic characters in this off-the-field underdog story are likable enough to make viewers root for them to pull out a win. In this, there’s a deeper exploration of trying to differentiate personal and professional life. There’s a sub-plot that’s irritating. Sonny’s mother wants to spread the ashes of her deceased husband today, of all days. She could simply wait one day, but it’s too urgent as it is. It feels too uninspired to contribute to the story very much.

Draft Day has some interesting aspects. The assistants of Sonny spend hours looking for weaknesses of players they want for their team. If you know that weakness and no one else does, that’s an advantage. It’s entertaining to see these managers play mind games with each other and have different strategies of how to get really good players. These strategies are also ways to show some football playing (through archive footage of old games) in a film that largely takes place off-the-field. Draft Day shows that these type-of sports dramas have an okay future. They’re all right for those who enjoy easy viewings, but not usually as good as on-the-field sports films. This is just a harmless film that has good intentions, but ends up being average. You might be better off watching the real 2014 draft.


9 thoughts on “Draft Day (2014)

    1. I’ll reply to your other comment in this one, too – sometimes E’s can be very stubborn ;D

      It didn’t do very much for me, unfortunately. The only part I really enjoyed was the finale. This somehow has a 63% on Rotten Tomatoes, though. Like I said, if you’re a football fan, you might find some merit in this by the end of it all. Yeah, I’d recommend the can of Bud viewing at home, because if you were looking forward to it, a rental might be worth it for you. Let me know your thoughts after, if you end up watching it!

    1. I do, actually! Football movies I’m a bit more picky, but I usually enjoy them. The only football ones I can say I love are The Blind Side and Remember the Titans. Invincible’s pretty good. Is “Two for the Money” that Matthew McConaughey and Al Pacino one? Funny, I own the DVD (well, my mom does!) but the cover doesn’t strike me as a sports movie at all. Looks more like a thriller

  1. Good review Dan. It’s good when it pays attention to the actual draft itself. However, all of those other subplots got annoying after awhile.

    1. I thought the road to the draft was just okay, the actual draft pretty well done and suspenseful. Yeah, I did not like the sub-plots. What was with that random intern? My least favourite sub-plot was the mom wanting to spread the ashes on that day. That scene pissed me off. I wanted to say, “Screw off, you hipster granny who knows about Twitter.”

  2. Nice review! Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy this one review to think up of a review. Everything you wrote was spot-on. I felt like the film was trying to be Moneyball with football except there wasn’t a deep reason why I should sympathize or empathize with the characters or story. And, yes I was using the countdown to the draft as my escape for the movie to end too. 😀

    1. Thanks, Katy! Exactly; I thought they were likable enough to feel something, but not on a grand level. Hahah, when the countdown stopped, I thought – okay, thirty minutes maximum left 😀

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