Don't you just hate spoilers? I do, too. That's why I always try to include warnings. However, I sometimes ramble a bit too much here or there and maybe a few (or many) key plot points slip without me giving proper notice. So I'd like to include a blanket spoiler warning for the weary internet travelers of the world: Here There Be Spoilers. You've been warned.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Draft Day

Kevin Costner is a bit of an unsung hero to me. Sure, his career started out insanely promising and he was in a lot of good movies, but then something happened and he hasn't been in quite so many universally accepted movies. Hell, Ben Affleck's career was able to soar after Gigli so I can't say it's a grudge people hold against Costner over Waterworld.

For whatever reason Kevin Costner just hasn't hit one out of the park in a while. However, Kevin Costner is head and shoulders above the likes of John Travolta and Nicolas Cage because his movies at least remain watchable. Granted, I haven't seen every movie by Costner lately, but I've seen enough by Cage and Travolta to convince me that Costner really isn't doing too bad.

In my humble opinion Draft Day is a huge success although there are a few caveats. This isn't really a sports movie, but a "sports office" movie. Most of this movie is spent watching Kevin Costner talking on the phone to other people. There are no fantastic and rousing locker room speeches or any last minute game heroics. There's no game even being played around draft time. This movie has more in common with courtroom dramas then a lot of sports movies. It's a lot of talking and no action.

Most people might not think that this movie could be suspenseful, but I found it riveting.

I was emotionally invested in this movie because I love the idea that careers can be made or broken by a draft. There's a lot for this movie to work with and for once Hollywood gets it right. The day of the NFL Draft was completely justified by Draft Day even down to Roger Goodell's appearance at the end when the crowd started booing as he walked on stage.

Of course, there is a bit of a personal factor thrown in with the main characters. Kevin Costner's character gets told that his employee and person in charge of salary cap (Jennifer Garner) is pregnant with his baby. He is told this only hours before the draft which is when this movie starts. 

During the chaos of the day he must somehow come to terms with that while setting the future of his beleaguered organization on the right path. It doesn't help him when his boss (Frank Langella) forces him to make a trade for the first pick that would lose him three consecutive first picks in future drafts for an all-star caliber quarterback from Wisconsin he doesn't want and his coach (Denis Leary) doesn't want. The deal is made, if you can believe this, with the Seattle Seahawks having the first pick originally. 

Someone, somewhere, has a strange sense of humor. 

Hell, just making a movie about the Browns organization starring Kevin Costner could have been an epic disaster. Neither of them are very lucky, are they? Maybe that's why it is the perfect onscreen marriage, though. 

The NFL did put its best foot forward with this because it has all of the guys from ESPN and NFL Network making an appearance. Deion Sanders, Rich Eisen, Jon Gruden, Mike Mayock, and (perhaps the most effective being since he gets the opening lines of the film) Chris Berman get to do their jobs in this world of fiction. I mean, for a minute, I really thought I was watching the NFL Network and not a movie. Then I see Kevin Costner and Jennifer Garner and I realize that other stuff is supposed to happen. Not much, mind you, because this film only takes place on Draft Day. If you want make-out scenes or gushy moments of feels then this isn't your movie, but if you like stats and replays of NFL Films then you've got it in spades. 

If you are a football nerd then this film will delight you and give you plenty to enjoy. Of course, you can pick apart the film's conclusion and go "a real team would never do that!" but the conclusion is good from a strictly "film-watching" experience. It's a bit hinky by real world logic, which this movie really strives for the most part, but it gets the job done on the emotional front. 

If you aren't into football then... Well, you might want to stick with Rudy or something and come back to this one when you are one of the initiated. 

I enjoyed this movie and found it wholly satisfying. If this movie were a draft pick it'd be a high grade second rounder on Mike Mayock's mock draft. I can think of few higher compliments I can give. 

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