Draft Day: Kevin Costner Takes on the NFL

Hello everybody! For this week’s New Movie Show we have the interesting pre-sports drama Draft Day.

DRAFT DAY

STARRING: Kevin Costner, Jennifer Garner, Denis Leary, Frank Langella, Tom Welling, Sam Elliott, Ellen Burstyn, Chadwick Boseman

DIRECTOR: Ivan Reitman

GENRE: Sports Drama

YEAR: 2014

COUNTRY: United States

It’s draft day in the NFL and as general manager of the Cleveland Browns, Sonny is forced to come up with a big move. After trading for the number one pick, Sonny has to choose between a lower-ranked linebacker with a questionable past or a celebrated quarterback with a questionable future. All the while, Sonny is walking in the footsteps of his father and personal complications force their way to the surface.

The plot is straightforward enough, but instead of simply relying on the excitement of NFL Draft Day and Weaver’s underdog attempt to turn a number seven draft pick into Cinderella story magic, Reitman (along with writers Scott Rothman and Rajiv Joseph) overstuff the film with personal drama. Balancing Weaver’s larger ambitions with a frustrated (not to mention pregnant) girlfriend allows a whimsical break from pissing contests with rival ball club managers; yet, a demanding mother (who is completely insensitive to the growing likelihood her son’s career is on the line) muddles the film with unnecessary and unconvincing melodrama.

In script form, this “sports family” tangent, centered on beloved Coach Weaver, Sr., his widowed wife, and their son, Weaver, Jr., might have produced an impactful message about the sacrifices of family, but in the final film any remnants of the arc are little more than vestigial tissue that distract from what Reitman cares about most – the thrill of behind-the-scenes draft deals.

Reitman means well, and Draft Day often succeeds at reflecting sport fan sentimentality, but his execution is still pretty clumsy. Outside of the principle characters, most supporting players are thinly scripted caricatures – which also make it relatively easy to predict where all the puzzles pieces will fit as the narrative plays out. This isn’t to say that audiences will guess every plot point ahead of time, but in spite of high-powered trades, Draft Day rarely offers truly engaging surprises. Ultimately, the only genuinely shocking revelation is just how far Reitman ventures to test disbelief in the final thirty minutes.

PROS:

  • Plot.
  • Main cast performances.
  • Pacing.

CONS:

  • Unneeded melodrama.
  • Removed story arcs.

SCORE: 7.5 / 10

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