Cycling, baseball (three times), golf, and now football. Kevin Costner is a man who likes his sports (and sports movies), it seems. And, for the most part, we’re the better for it. (Yes, I was one of the 30 or so people who actually enjoyed 1999’s For Love of the Game.)
Draft Day is Costner’s latest, a day-in-the-life saga of Sonny Weaver, Jr., the general manager of the NFL’s Cleveland Browns. And though it doesn’t have the staying power of Bull Durham or the nostalgia of Field of Dreams, you could do a lot worse.
Weaver (Costner) is a man whose world is coming at him from all sides. His father (the team’s storied coach) has just passed away. The new head coach (Denis Leary) has a chip on his shoulder the size of Dallas (the team he begrudgingly left to take the Browns job). Weaver’s girlfriend Ali (Jennifer Garner) is not only a co-worker but pregnant with his child. And that’s all before we even get to his job of running the team.
The team owner’s owner (Frank Langella) and the entire Brown fanbase are all counting on Weaver to not screw up the year’s draft. And top prospects are calling Weaver incessantly, pleading their case as a top draft pick.
Director Ivan Reitman, who last helmed No Strings Attached (Ghostbusters seems way too long ago to even mention), is very careful to make Draft Day accessible to everyone, from football newbies to seasoned fans. With unprecedented cooperation from the NFL, he takes us into the draft day world with cameos from the likes of Chris Berman, Mel Kiper, and even commissioner Roger Goodell. It’s a fun watch, even with a story that’s almost as trite as they come.
The screenplay by feature film first-timers Scott Rothman and Rajiv Joseph does get silly at times, and the whole thing is tied up with a bow far too big for its own good, but Costner (surprisingly) still has what it takes to carry a movie. And that journey is entertaining– even if the destination is almost laughingly perfect.