Draft Day review

Ivan Reitman
Kevin Costner
Jennifer Garner
Chadwick Boseman
Josh Pence
Denis Leary
Griffin Newman
Rated: PG-13

Why do good concepts in movies always have to be dragged down by useless subplots.

“Draft Day” takes place on the most important time for the National Football League offseason. Players from college are evaluated, ESPN and NFL Network have round the clock coverage of mock drafts and quarterback mechanics are analyzed. The film itself follows Sonny Weaver (Costner), a general manager for the Cleveland Browns, and any football fan knows that’s not the best job to have.

The movie picks up the morning of the first round of the draft with Sonny questioning what he will do. The team needs to be rebuilt but it will take some trading and dealing on Sonny’s part to get it done. On top of that, the main character is also dealing with a turbulent relationship with co-worker Ali (Garner) and is mourning the death of his father who was previously the coach of the Browns.

The concept of “Draft Day” seemed like a good enough one. As an NFL fan, I always watch the draft to see if the Minnesota Vikings can get something accomplished to have a better season. It’s exciting as teams will trade draft picks, players and will have to do so in a limited time.

Problems arise with this movie, though, because it’s not simply focused on the draft itself. The movie does way to much to go into the romantic relationship and Sonny’s late father and even this comic relief intern.

It’s not as though it’s bad to have some depth for these characters and add more backstory, however, the way these subplots were written made it seem like they were there in a calculated way just to get some rather cheap emotional responses from the audience.

Another big issues with having all of these subplots is that the film itself all takes place on the same day, so it really has to cram a lot of stories that aren’t all that great and slam them together.

The worst part is it takes away from the time devoted to the draft itself. This could have been a really interesting and exciting movie if it would have gone deeper into the world of drafting, however the movie never really explores it like they should.

The way things play out in the draft makes the entire thing overwhelmingly predictable that by the time it actually starts in the movie, the audience knows how it’s going to end.

Sometimes in movies that feature businessmen, they can appear as slick and sort of sleazy salesmen that can come off as jerks but still have enough charm to be likable. Take for example Matthew McConaughey in “The Lincoln Lawyer” or even Tom Cruise in “Jerry Maguire.” These characters come off at times as obsessed with their jobs and are good at what they do and can come off as arrogant, but are still very likable and interesting.

Kevin Costner’s Sonny isn’t that at all. The character just comes off as unlikable the entire movie. It’s understandable that the lead protagonist is under a lot of pressure, his father recently passed away and his job is on the line, but it felt at times that the character was written to be a jerk for no reason. There was never any point where I felt like rooting for this character, or supporting this character or even really caring for this character.

The rest of the characters come off as very one dimensional. For example, the draft picks, namely the two that the Browns are looking at taking, Vontae Mack played by Chadwick Boseman and Bo Callahan played by Josh Pence, are all portrayed in a way that make it very obvious as to what’s going to happen with them by the end of the movie.

Additionally, Jennifer Garner, who is the love interest, never had an impact with her performance. It came off as rather dull and uninspired and I didn’t find much, if any, chemistry between her and Costner’s character.

Another character who was more of a hindrance than anything was Coach Penn, played by Denis Leary. Leary’s job in this movie was basically playing a guy who complained a lot. It’s understandable why he’s complaining, but the character wasn’t written in a way that allows him to be more than that, which leads to an unmemorable performance from Leary because he doesn’t have as much to work with.

The absolute worst part of the movie in terms of the characters, though, is Rick the Intern. This character, played by Griffin Newman, is really an example as to what’s wrong with this picture. Rick the Intern is only in this movie to be comic relief. He screws up in every scene, is in the wrong place at the wrong time for much of the movie and is treated like an after thought by everybody. Instead of actually writing something important for this character to do, coming up with something creative or different or just having him be more than comic relief to laugh at, the film basically just writes the word dunce on the guy’s forehead.

And that’s the problem with this movie in terms of the characters and even in regards to the overall story. It’s calculated, it’s one dimensional and it has no depth which drags down what could have actually been an interesting film on the industry.

That’s not even the end of the complaints, though. Even the editing got on my nerves a bit. There were scenes with dialogue where the film would split the screen and keep the split screens moving. It was almost as if the filmmakers knew that the dialogue was poor and had to do something extra to make the talking scenes more lively. In addition to that, every time a new team was introduced to the movie, a huge sweeping shot of the stadium was shown with a big “SEATTLE: HOME OF THE SEAHAWKS”, for example. It came off as over the top. A little subtlety could have gone a long way.

“Draft Day” could have actually been a fairly interesting film, but it just comes off as so predictable and in a simple term, very Hollywood. 1 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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