sat 15/06/2024

Draft Day | reviews, news & interviews

Draft Day

Draft Day

This American football drama is Ivan Reitman's off day

It's those darned numbers again: Kevin Costner as team manager Sonny Weaver

Draft Day should have been a contenda. As it stands, it's a football film for people who like football but who hate film. Sure, you may like “movies”, but you sure as hell don’t like film. It’s also the kind of film a rookie film reviewer will gleefully shred.

In his fourth go at the sports genre, Kevin Costner looks better in the actual film than in the horribly photoshopped movie poster. This is fortunate as he plays Sonny Weaver, the manager of – gee, what team was it again? If you don’t follow football it doesn’t matter. If you do, it’s the Cleveland Browns – anyway, it’s the team we’re rootin’ for. His father, a great coach, just passed away a week earlier. His mother, the wunder-actress Ellen Burstyn, wants to scatter her husband’s ashes on the team’s field, but no. It’s Draft Day, the day when America and all bookies turn their attention to who gets picked when and for whom in readiness for the upcoming lucrative American football season.

It's heartbreaking that the film is so poor but there are any number of reasons for this

While this is all about American football, the strategy in this story is not on the pitch: it's in the social media, the snippy phone calls, the gossiping powerplays that everyone involved makes. It’d be easy to compare Draft Day to Field of Dream. It’d be easy and it would also be wrong. Field of Dreams understands cinema. Draft Day does not. It has the feeling of being in a rush towards the goalposts at all times. On-the-nose dialogue, written by Scott Rushman and rewritten by Rajiv Joseph, clashes with unimaginative, pedestrian direction by Ivan Reitman.

It’s heartbreaking that the film is so poor but there are any number of reasons for this: studio tinkering, budget cuts, clashes between studio and director, uncredited non-writers rewriting the script, actors making suggestions, running out of time, etc. It could be any of those, or none. The feeling here is of a film stampeding to a single market, for a single purpose and only one reason.

Costner does a good job with the hamfisted script. Frank Langella steps into comfy shoes as the team owner. Denis Leary also takes on a role he’s done before – cranky guy – as the stereotypical coach. Ellen Burstyn’s hair looks great and she does the best she can with her tiny scenes. Sean Combs pops in to say hi a couple of times, as do Sam Elliot, Chadwick Boseman (42) and Tom Welling (Parkland). Jennifer Garner (pictured below) does well – you can’t blame the actors – as Ali, the team executive who knows all about money, caps, financial years and whatnot. At first we think she’s Sonny Weaver’s daughter. No. She’s his girlfriend who is suddenly pregnant. What? But with Terry Crews wedged into the cast, there’s energy and hope, if only for a moment, that this film will get better.

There is one scene that points to the below-averageness of Draft Day: Ali is shown getting into her car. It is such an unnecessary shot – clumsy, ordinary, unimaginative. This shot screamed to me that Draft Day is Ivan Reitman's off day.

With more split screens than Grand Prix and Pillow Talk combined, there are too many phone conversations, too many contrived problems for our hero to solve and just too much predictability and technicality for the normal, average person to sift through. Cinematography by Eric Steelberg is televisual, although the actors do look nice and that’s important.

One plus for Draft Day? After watching it, I felt really smart about American football. I still don’t know why.

It’d be easy to compare 'Draft Day' to 'Field of Dreams'. It would also be wrong


Editor Rating: 
Average: 2 (1 vote)

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