Directed by Ivan Reitman, the film follows Cleveland Browns general manger Sonny Weaver Jr. (Costner), who trades three of his team’s future first round draft picks for the number one overall pick. This move is met with scrutiny and anger from much of the organization, especially the head coach, played by Denis Leary. Jennifer Garner costars and multiple real-like NFL personalities, like Commissioner Roger Goodell and Deion Sanders, make cameos.
It is easy to write this film off as one big ad for the NFL, because the commercials and trailer certainly portray it as one when they insert real-life players, despite no real players appearing or even being mentioned in the film (aside from Texans running back Arian Foster, who is actually in an acting role as a draft prospect).
But when you look past the over glamourized portrayal of the NFL, “Draft Day” is a very entertaining, at times intense, film, with shades of “Moneyball”.
Kevin Costner does a solid job as the film’s protagonist. He portrays a man who has a lot on his plate, having traded away his team’s future for a single pick (or “a cow for magic beans”, as they say in the film). On top of that, his general manager is threatening to fire him if the draft is a bust, his girlfriend tells him she is pregnant and his father passed away the week before. A lot to take in on the most important day of the year.
The real strength of the film lies in the NFL-based statistics and draft analysis. This film can be enjoyed by most everybody but the audience that will enjoy it the most is the people who like the behind-the-scenes of football; looking at potential picks and what are the skeletons hiding in their closet. In the film, everyone thinks a QB out of Wisconsin is the unanimous number one overall pick; however Sonny isn’t sold about his personality.
There are quite a few twists in “Draft Day”, some more plausible than others, but they all make for a fun time at the movies. You try and think about what Sonny is cooking up, and how he is going to save not only the Browns, but his job. It is interesting and almost insane to see what NFL GM’s go through on draft day (gasp, that’s the film’s title!) and how many last minute behind-the-scenes moves go on.
The film really doesn’t have too many flaws, as far as an entertainment standpoint goes. There is a 15 minute lag near the beginning of the film, right after Sonny makes the deal for the number one pick, but after that ends it is pretty much non-stop energy until the end of the film. Also, like I said, people who aren’t invested in the goings of the NFL may not be as entertained as people who live and breathe football (like me).
But it is worth mentioning that I saw this film with my lovely mother, who admits she knows little about the NFL besides teams and star players, and she really liked and was engaged by the film. So take that for what its worth…
I really don’t know what else to say about “Draft Day” other than I really liked it. It is a fun, engaging ride, and it was fun to try and think one step ahead of the characters and predict what Sonny possibly could be thinking. If you are a football fan, you will really enjoy this film. If you like business and statistics then you should have a good time, too. If you like bland pieces with forced love triangles, then go watch Twilight or something, because “Draft Day” is probably too interesting for you.
Critics Rating: 8/10