In a time of the year when football fans are eagerly awaiting the upcoming college and professional seasons, as well as the 2014 NFL Draft, "Draft Day" presents a fun, exciting experience for the average sports enthusiast. This film gives an inside look into what its like managing a professional football organization and dealing with the high pressure and preparation that goes into drafting new talent. Starring Kevin Costner, Jennifer Garner, Frank Langella, Denis Leary and more, "Draft Day" mixes real NFL footage, professional names, and sports-related content with fictional players, executives, etc., to create a dramatic, insightful, humorous, and entertaining film.
"Draft Day" focuses on the Cleveland Browns and places Kevin Costner in the lead role as Sonny Weaver, Jr., the general manager of the organization. As the 2014 NFL Draft approaches, Weaver must decide what to do with the team’s draft picks to get the most value and whether or not to make a trade that would cause them to move up or down in the draft. The audience follows the team up until the draft, experiences the draft itself, and is led all the way to the first game of the season. The film walks the audience through trades, contracts, salary caps and the like with actual sports personalities, like Roger Goodell, Deion Sanders, Chris Berman, Mel Kiper, and Jon Gruden, and real life sports organizations, teams, and cities, combined with made up professional athletes, "Draft Day" moves through most of the important parts of the offseason and draft process as the fate and future of the Browns are left in Weaver’s hands.
This film is filled with a good deal of drama and unique business rivalries, be it the relationships between GMs of an organization, players and teams, or a more personal connection between two characters. There is a lot of passion and emotion through players, coaches, or execs who are from famous families, players looking to be drafted by a specific team, or smart football minds trying to make the most out of their opportunity to shape and build a team. The pressure and emotion is at its peak as teams decide their futures by their moves in the draft while families of the players and fans of the sport watch at home. If anything is clear, it’s that everyone’s job and future is on the line surrounding an event of this magnitude.
It’s quite interesting to see how deals are made, draft picks are swapped, and players are traded through back-channel deals, last-minute phone calls, and spontaneous decisions. For example in "Draft Day," the GM of the Browns attempts to pull off a deal that appears dangerous and ludicrous to most, but through careful planning and leverage, ends up making him look like a genius. The film shows how much information and planning goes into the draft, doing everything from scouting players in college and below, checking out athletes at the NFL combine, talking with people around the sport, taking public perception into account, and more. NFL and team personnel are often times at each other’s throats and telling each other misinformation, making people around the league believe something so that they can make something else happen as a result.
"Draft Day" makes good use of humor through ragging or making fun of various football teams, to using sports stereotypes, to people talking smack or messing with each other, to sarcastic remarks and characters expressing their frustrations/strong opinions towards a situation. There are many familiar faces in this film from people who are playing themselves to others in fictional (and sometimes ironic) roles. The film also shows many real football stadiums, beautiful city skylines, and uses a variety of settings.
In the end, watching this film is like watching a fictional and dramatic sports documentary that follows a team through an NFL draft. "Draft Day" provides something for just about anyone by using a widely popular, yet unique idea and theme, as well as a fairly well-known cast. It’s simple enough for the average moviegoer and those who can appreciate sports, but also provides a bit more depth for those looking for additional entertainment. This film opens in theaters Friday, April 11, 2014.
Rated 3 out of 5 stars.
"Draft Day" is rated PG-13 on appeal for brief strong language and sexual references. Running time is 1 hour and 49 minutes.
Hayden Pittman is a special contributor to WFAA.com and a freelance film critic and entertainment blogger out of Dallas. More of his content can be found on YouPlusDallas.com and his author archive here. He is a film, TV, and sports enthusiast, and hopes to pursue a future in filmmaking and screenwriting. As an average, passionate film lover who rarely misses a film, his reviews are straightforward and his way with words will let you know in a simple way what he thinks. Don’t like what he has to say? Let him know at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @HPMoviePitt.