Cinematic Releases: Draft Day

Kevin Costner and Ivan Reitman team up to save the Cleveland Browns

"Yes. At this point, Waterworld
2 sounds like a great idea!"
The NFL has slowly but surely transitioned itself from America's favorite past time into a brand of religion. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell decided that it was time to exploit one of the less celebrated holidays on the football calender, so he recruited Ivan Reitman make a movie about Draft Day, the day when professional football teams select players from the college ranks to join their teams.
Kevin Costner plays Sonny Weaver junior, the General Manager of the Cleveland Browns. He is dealing with a team owner who wants him to draft a flashy player to help sell tickets, and a hotheaded new head coach played by Dennis Leary who wants him to go in a different, safer direction.
The entire movie takes place over the course of 12 hours, and on top of everything else, he has a complicated professional relationship with team salary cap manager Ali Parker, played by Jennifer Garner.
Ivan Reitman had to work closely with the NFL to make sure they approved of every aspect of what he did, right down to the cars that the actors drove in the film.  "...they didn't want one of our heroes to drive a Toyota," he said in an interview with Moviefone, because the NFL has a deal with GMC. So if you're expecting anything close to the reality of what goes on during an actual draft day, you might be disappointed.
"Ooohhh. Go deep.
Catch my ball."
I wasn't expecting a documentary going into the film, so I wasn't particularly unimpressed with it. Reitman did
a good job getting all of the little things right: football lingo, draft day cliches, and broad stereotypes of college players. As a huge fan of sports in general, I would have enjoyed a little more insight into the players lives leading up to the draft.
One of the main problems that prevents the possibility of such insight is the number of stories taking place all at once. There are new plot devices being introduced well into the final act, most of them completely forgettable and unnecessary to the narrative. This would have been a much better movie if they had focused solely on the draft and skipped the glossed over family and relationship arcs. 
This movie should appeal to several kinds of moviegoers. If you absolutely love the NFL and keep up with the scouting combines, mock drafts, and player projections, you'll enjoy the cavalcade of cameos by just about everyone who works at ESPN and the NFL Network. Old school football fans will love the grainy film of players from the 1980's as characters in the movies talk over it.
I was shocked to hear several people choking back tears as the movie ended, so perhaps I'm a bit too cynical to take what I thought was a forgettable, tacked on story seriously. Kevin Costner just seemed tired throughout the whole movie. Not exhausted, like a real general manager is on draft day, just tired.
"I apologize for the mutant fish
comment. Wanna go back to
my place?"
In an attempt to make the movie look more like an Xbox One screen, there is an overuse of panning split screens, with characters from one side of the line protruding into the other side, sometimes even walking through it. It's a deliberate gimmick that seemed cool to me at first, but quickly became tiresome.

The performances, writing, and directing in Draft Day are all perfectly average, and so is the movie.

-Tom Mcdaniel