Draft Day

Draft Day featured image


Ivan Reitman, director
Rajiv Joseph and Scott Rothman, script

Starring: Kevin Costner (Sonny Weaver, Jr.), Jennifer Garner (Ali Parker), Frank Langella (Harvey Molina), Denis Leary (Vince Penn), Ellen Burstyn (Barb Weaver), Sam Elliott (Coach Moore), Tom Welling (Brian Drew), Chadwick Boseman (Vontae Mack), Josh Pence (Bo Callahan), Rosanna Arquette (Angie)

The hype
Kevin Costner starring in a sports movie is generally a very good thing, especially for the box office. He’s previously appeared as a neurotic golfer in Tin Cup and in the baseball movies Bull Durham, Field of Dreams, For Love of the Game and as a former baseball player in The Upside of Anger. Now, he’s playing a football general manager—that should be a good thing.

The premise
It’s draft day in the National Film League—a time when the future of teams is on the line. So is the reputation of the general managers, who can make or break their careers by trading draft picks or choosing the best young player possible.

Sonny Weaver, Jr., the general manager of the Cleveland Browns, is having a very difficult day. His boss Harvey Molina wants him to do whatever it takes to land Bo Callahan, the odds-on favourite college quarterback, who could turn the Browns overnight into a contending football team. Forced by Molina, Sonny trades his next three Number One draft choices—a lot—to get the number one this year. Callahan. And Sonny isn’t sure that Callahan is the right choice.

But that’s not all that’s bothering Sonny. His girlfriend Ali has announced that she’s pregnant and Sonny didn’t respond very favourably. Sonny’s mother Barb wants him to help her scatter Sonny Senior’s ashes on the Browns’ practice field—his father, having died earlier that week, just six months after Sonny fired him as head coach of the football team. Sonny’s new head coach, Vince Penn, is convinced that his general manager has overpaid for Bo, risking the future of the club.

Can Sonny rescue the situation? Will he draft Bo or someone else? Can he make trades, which could rescue the franchise’s future? If he doesn’t draft Bo, will Molina fire him? And what about Ali—can he fail her, too?

The analysis
Putting Ivan Reitman, the Canadian director of such hits as Ghostbusters and Twins, with Costner certainly seems like a fool- proof formula for success. You know that the plot will be solid and the production values high. Plus, the cast includes Denis Leary, Ellen Burstyn and Jennifer Garner—solid character actors.

So, what went wrong? Not everything. The plot is clever and acting reasonably. But…

The skinny
…Draft Day feels formulaic from beginning to end. The actors go through the paces but Costner looks bored and there’s not a hint of any passion beating emitted by Jennifer Garner or Costner.

You can hardly tell if the film is comic or dramatic.

Draft Day may work for sports buffs but that’s about all of the audience support it will receive.

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