Ivan Reitman’s latest isn’t a touchdown, but it should keep NFL fans happy until the real draft day begins.
After dealing with the loss of his father and a losing football team, Sonny Weaver Jr. (Kevin Costner) has no other choice but to make an impression this upcoming draft day. With so many people telling him what he should do, Sonny has no other choice but listen to his own instinct. All is going as planned until Sonny receives a phone call from Tom Michaels (Patrick St. Esprit), the General Manager for the Seattle Seahawks. Tom offers Sonny his number one pick for the season in return for his number one pick for the next three seasons. Uncertain of what to do, Sonny attempts to figure out his next move with the great hope of coming out as a hero at the end of draft day.
Going into Draft Day, I was bracing myself for the worst since all the pre-release date reviews have been generally negative. I am happy to report, however, that while I didn’t love the film, I did enjoy certain elements of it. Draft Day contains enough moments in it’s bloated 112 minute run-time that it doesn’t feel like a complete waste of time. The idea behind Draft Day is probably the worst thing about the film considering a film like this is usually based on actual events. There is nothing about this film that rings true even though it looks and feels like a true story. So while I was initially thinking I would be rooting for Sonny Weaver Jr. to bring the Cleveland Browns to victory, I was only really rooting for Kevin Costner to have a decent run at the box office for once.
Speaking of Costner, I think his performance as Sonny is solid. Ever since Waterworld and the Postman, everyone has been really hard on Costner but he is still a pretty solid actor in my opinion. If anything, Costner’s portrayal of Sonny is really the glue that holds the film together. Sonny has a lot of his plate and I know that I wouldn’t want his job. The character is dealing with more than simply picking the winning team so it gives the character depth. This, however, also serves as one of the biggest flaws with the film.
All the story arcs that writers Scott Rothman and Rajiv Joseph give Sonny are a bit unnecessary and feel more like filler rather than being crucial to the story at hand. The story introduces a lot of characters and most of their stories weren’t fleshed out enough to work for the standard moviegoer. There is a subplot about Sonny’s dad, a subplot about Sonny’s mom, a subplot about Sonny’s relationship with Ali (Jennifer Garner), and even a random subplot about an intern at the office. The film felt overly cluttered and contained far too many moments where it was striving to be emotional, but 95% of the time ultimately failed to do so.
It should also be noted that Draft Day is incredibly slow paced and there isn’t any exciting football footage to help build the excitement. The film is dialogue driven and features a lot of chatter that I think was a bit long winded at times. The oddest thing, however, is as much as I want to complain about the abundance of characters, all the performances in Draft Day were really good. I already mentioned that Costner was the glue that held the film together, but the supporting cast which includes Chadwick Boseman, Jennifer Garner, and Denis Leary were all great as well.
Draft Day comes to us from legendary director, Ivan Reitman. I spent most of my childhood and a lot of my adult life admiring many of the classic films that this man has given the world that include films such as Ghostbusters, Stripes, Meatballs, and Ghostbusters II but this isn’t the strongest film in his filmography. I found the direction to be very simplistic and the constant use of transitions started to bug me after a while. There were so many scenes where Reitman uses split screen to show two people talking that it felt rather amateurish. A lot of the scenes felt repetitive in terms of the setup and the direction itself wasn’t as solid as I expected from a director of Reitman’s caliber.
All in All, Draft Day is a decent watch, but there is nothing new about this underdog story. I think only die hard NFL fans will be able to fully appreciate it and most others will be turned off by its slow moving story. Draft Day is about 30 minutes too long and while the film has moments that will make the audience cheer, I really believe most will forget it as soon as they walk out of the theater. If it wasn’t for its near-perfect release date, I think the film would flop at the box office, but since its almost draft day the film will probably be a modest hit for Lionsgate.
MovieManMenzel’s final rating for Draft Day is a 6 out of 10.