By Carlos Alvarez
In “Draft Day,” Kevin Costner is at his best as the leading actor in a sport genre movie, but the cast around him is not given prominent roles. Sonny Weaver Jr., played by Costner, is the general manager of the Cleveland Browns and son of a coaching legend who recently died. Sonny isn’t as legendary as his father and with the Browns having a losing record in the season they were slotted with the seventh pick in the NFL Draft.
The movie opens with a number of ESPN analysts playing themselves, including Chris Berman, who is literally counting the seconds until the draft starts. Sonny knows he needs to turn around the team’s fortunes with the pick, and he begins a chess match with other NFL executives before the draft.
Director Ivan Reitman does a good job of capturing the national frenzy that takes place when college players are chosen to head to the pros. The film lacks football action with much of the focus on Costner’s decision on what player they will pick. “Draft Day” does provide the audience the perfect image of a city in love with their franchise. Reitman captures the passion and superstitious ways of fans.
It’s hard to see the film appealing to those who don’t follow the game or play fantasy football because the film concentrates more on other aspects that have nothing to do with the actual draft day. Ali, played by Jennifer Garner, is a Cleveland Browns executive who, with Sonny, is trying to map a successful future for the team in the draft.
The film is slow paced and has a similar love story that takes place in another of Costner’s film “For the Love of the Game,” in which Costner plays an aging pitcher who must choose between his girlfriend of many years or the game of baseball. Coach Vince Penn, played by Denis Leary, drove the Dallas Cowboys into last place before landing in Cleveland. Leary’s role is minimal and you hardly see some of the grit and fire you see in a coach during an actual game.
The film does not give enough depth to its characters to overcome the lack of football action. It does express the hope that comes before every season, that this may be a team’s year and one player in the draft can be the next face of the franchise. “Draft Day” was released April 11 and is rated PG-13. Its running time is approximately an hour and 50 minutes.