Kevin Costner is the king of sports movies having starred in Bull Durham, Field of Dreams and For Love of The Game. Draft Day is his first cinematic sport excursion away from America’s favourite pastime into the world of the NFL. This Ivan Reitman’s film may not be a bona fide classic like those films but it is an entertaining comedy-drama, anchored by an impressive turn by Costner.
Costner plays Sonny Weaver, the general managing director of the Cleveland Browns, a failing (American) football team with the number one draft pick. Weaver must navigate the Draft Day under pressure from his boss (Frank Langella) as personal issues with his girlfriend (Jennifer Garner) and his mother (Ellen Burstyn) constantly crop up.
This is the type of film rarely made by studios today – a glossy talky effort for grown-ups. The comedy and drama in Draft Day comes from the situations and the characters as the pressure mounts on the busiest day in the NFL. It’s not a sports picture per se, as it deals with the politics behind football. This is what makes the movie difficult to follow for non-NFL enthusiasts outside the US. It’s a complication proposition but Reitman, along with writers Scott Rothman and Rajiv Joseph, navigate this with a script that attempts to explain the mechanics behind the sport.
Draft Day works because of Kevin Costner, whose career brings a weight and authenticity to the character Sonny Weaver. His cinematic sporting background along with his all-American persona adds layers to an already defined character. The supporting cast is strong, although some are given less to do than others. Garner’s role at times comes across as a token girlfriend role, although she is given a few good moments of sparring with Costner.
It’s good seeing Ivan Reitman returning to form with Draft Day. The director’s last few films failed to match up to the many classics in his filmography (Stripes, Ghostbusters and Dave to name a few) and it’s more inline with 1986’s Robert Redford starrer, Legal Eagles. Kevin Costner is the centre of Reitman’s film, holding it together with his charisma and that is what a movie stars does.
Ultimately, Draft Day is a sports movie with Kevin Costner and that means you don’t need any other reason to watch it.
Draft Day comes with deleted scenes and an energetic and geeky commentary from writers Scott Rothman and Rajiv Joseph.