Willie Waffle Movies

Draft Day – Movie or Commercial for the NFL? – Review

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Photo Courtesy Summit

Football geeks like me can’t get enough of the NFL Draft, which is why this movie seems to be born from pure GENIUS!  A chance to hang out in the war room is better than a trip to Disney World for some of us.

Kevin Costner stars as Sonny Weaver, Jr. – the General Manager of the Cleveland Browns football team.  While he had some success with other organizations, things, as per usual with the Cleveland Browns, are not going well.

Sonny had to fire the much beloved, long time, legendary coach, who just happened to be his father (that had to be an awkward Thanksgiving dinner).

The team just hired a new coach, Coach Penn (Denis Leary), who is quite outspoken about the direction he wants to take the football team, which might not completely mesh with Sonny’s plan.

Sonny’s secret girlfriend, Ali (Jennifer Garner), is pregnant, and happens to work for the team.

And, the fans are demanding the Browns do something drastic to become winners immediately (I guess Browns fans never learn).

Of course, this leads Sonny to make a trade for the #1 pick in the NFL draft on Draft Day.

Did he make the right move?

Are they getting the player that will make the Browns Super Bowl winners?

Draft Day is one of those movies that you can enjoy as long as you don’t go in with too many expectations and demands.

Director Ivan Reitman delivers a movie that can be hokey at times, predictable at others, and downright sappy, but Draft Day also gives the audience some thrills, laughs and genuine emotion.  I just have to wonder how much of the film was directed by Reitman and how much was directed by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

Much has been made about the partnership with the NFL to make Draft Day, but you can feel like the league almost exerted too much control.  To get the access and genuine articles, you can tell the NFL heavily suggested the movie focus on sad sack teams that need the extra promotion because most people in the audience couldn’t give a hoot about 3 of the 4 teams heavily portrayed here (I just can’t believe the NFL let the Jaguars look as incompetent in the movie as they do in real life).

Plus, the movie is an outright celebration of everything NFL and Draft Day, with loving, lingering shots over logos and stadiums that feel like commercials for season tickets, and a bunch of people who all are so well intentioned you have to wonder if they really do work in professional sports.  Nothing is this sugary sweet.  Draft Day feels like some 1940’s jingoistic portrayal of the NFL as everything that is good and wholesome in the world.  They should sell apple pie at the concession stand instead of popcorn.

However, Reitman does a great job showing us the behind the scenes machinations, the wheeling, the dealing and the hopes of each team and player as they stand on the brink of what they dream will be a legendary day.  It’s a fun, exciting ride where football fans will like the feeling of being in the middle of such a high stakes day and non-football fans get the personal stories about the families, the people, the love relationships and more that will appeal to their heartstrings  Plus, you have a great cast making it come to life.

Costner is so good and smooth.  I still don’t think he gets credit for being the solidifying force he can be on screen as he embodies a likable everyman character who has to face major challenges and just wants to do the right thing no matter what everyone else thinks.  He is a hero who doesn’t need to wear a costume and tights.

Chadwick Boseman continues to sparkle as a college player trying to make the best case he can for why the Browns should draft him, and I wish we could have had more of his character, who is the most likable and lovable of everyone in the film.  Every bit of emotion feels real  with Boseman (I can’t wait to see him play James Brown later this year).

Also, we needed more of Denis Leary as the egotistical coach.  He provides a little bit of edge and comic relief to Draft Day that helps make it more entertaining.

Draft Day has its ups and down, but it’s a fun ride.

2_5waffles_sml2 ½ Waffles (Out of 4)

Draft Day is rated PG-13 for brief strong language and sexual references.

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