A lot of folks have been talking about the reinvention of Mathew McConaughey AKA the McConaissance, but what about the recent return of the never aging Kevin Costner? After disappearing for a few years, he’s on the come back trail. In his latest, Draft Day, he returns to a genre he’s synonymous with– the Sports Movie.
In Draft Day Costner is Sonny Weaver, Jr. the freshly minted GM of your Cleveland Browns. As the name implies it is 24 hour to Draft Day and he has some big needs to fill on his team. This is a particularly tough Draft Day for Weaver, he has to live up to the legacy left by his recently departed father, whom he fired when he took over the team and is coming off another bad season, fans and the Brown’s prickly owner Anthony Molina (Frank Langelia) wants a big splash and signature pick. His heart is with the little known Defensive Tackle Vontae Mac (Chadwick Boseman), but he has the opportunity to get the number one draft pick, if he gives away the future of the team. A move his newly hired Coach (Dennis Leary) is against.
While all of this is going on, he finds out his girlfriend team money manager Ali (Jennifer Garner) is having his baby and his mother (Ellen Burstyn) picks this day to bury his father’s ashes on the practice field. At times the dysfunction of this team and the draft scenario reminded me of The Washington Redskins. I kept wondering if they just lifted this story from the shenanigans that went on with the RGIII pick.
Director Ivan Reitman gives the film the right touch of heart but allows it to get bogged down with the minutia of the “Art of the Deal.” In the end there’s a flurry of activity that made me question what the point of the entire exercise was. Someone had to explain it to me and it made sense in retrospect. You don’t have to know anything about football to enjoy this movie, but you do have to watch a couple of key moments closely.
I understand they needed something to tone down the testosterone but the relationship moments with Weaver and the women in his life seemed forced and unnecessary additions to the plot. It didn’t do much to add layers and texture to his character. Garner and Burstyn did a nice job with the little they were given to do and I always enjoy seeing Leary on camera. He doesn’t stretch himself, but he plays a good stereotypical old school “curmudgeon.” Chadwick Boseman distracted me because he reminded me of 50 Cent. This was clearly made with the cooperation of the NFL. Reitman’s use of real NFL Stadiums, NFL Commentators and sets really gave the film a sense of authenticity, but I also felt like I was watching an extended commercial. I’m not a fan of seeing real life personalities in my movies it always comes across as a bit cheesy and takes me out of the film.
Draft Day is an enjoyable, if not forgettable, movie. It is not going to go down as another Costner sports classic.
Final Grade B