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Draft Day starts thirteen hours before the much anticipated NFL Draft, Sonny Weaver Jr. (Kevin Costner) is the general manager of a pathetic Cleveland Browns. Sonny is under extreme pressure to utilize the draft to make some magic happen for the Browns. This is made perfectly clear by team owner Anthony Molina (Frank Langella) who brilliantly plays the role of a combination of Mark Cuban and Jerry Jones.

More pressure is added by the Brown’s die-hard, rabid fans who are raging for a Messiah to be drafted that will save their team. But that’s still not enough, Sonny’s recently deceased and legendary father was the Brown’s most awe-inspiring coach ever and Sonny’s mother (Ellen Burstyn) isn’t doing well with his death. To top it all off, Sonny’s not so down low girlfriend, team lawyer Ali (Jennifer Garner) has just announced her pregnancy to Sonny.

Sorry, but classic Hollywood sexism is on full display in this May-December romance. Costner is 60 years old and Garner is 42 in real life, and how about actors like Michelle Pfeiffer (55), Julianne Moore (52), Emma Thompson (54), and Glenn Close (66) to name a few. Oh no, can’t be too realistic. It might hurt the box office receipts to use a mature woman; after all nobody wants to think of them as being pregnant.

So Sonny has to juggle all these balls and make a critical selection of a baby baller for his team. Molina wants to make a huge splash during the Draft Day ceremonies so he can be a “big deal” and make the story about him. Denis Leary plays the new kick ass head coach “Penn” and is totally wasted. Why hire a notorious comedic actor and then waste his talent? Leary is more of a bitter, whiny prick than a foil to Weaver. Then there are all the college prospects looking for a job. Likely top pick Bo Callahan (Josh Pence), who has every team wanting to get their hands on him, the desperate Vontae Mack (Chadwick Boseman), and finally Ray Jennings (Arian Foster) whose father is a Browns legend – think hall of famer Jim Brown.


Since Sonny is his own man he is going to do it his way – damn the consequences – but we know somehow he’s going to come out a smelling like a smoke stack of Cleveland past. Screenwriters Scott Rothman and Rajiv Joseph do a fair job of trying to pump some “red zone’ tension into this yawner. The two had never written a script together and neither had ever had a screenplay produced, so congratulations on getting one made and better luck next time. Maybe in the future they will put away the formula book and write something less predictable.

The second frame is a slow paced muddled mess as Sonny is besieged on all fronts. His team of coaches and scouts want to not only know what Sonny’s plan is, but they all want to influence his direction and choice. Coach Penn is dead set on his pick and might be ready to walk if he doesn’t get his way as the new coach. Sonny has to shake off the demon of his dead father, his suffering mother, and his caring girlfriend who so sweetly timed the announcement of her pregnancy on Draft Day. It’s bad she’s young enough to be his daughter but as a plot device to heap stress on Sonny is just excessive and convenient for the writers. Why not give someone else cancer and let Sonny have a much deserved heart attack? Or maybe an earthquake could hit Cleveland.

Director Ivan Reitmen hasn’t delivered a solid hit since the 90’s and his real successes have been in comedy. Draft Day once again proves that Reitmen should perhaps stay in that genre or at least add some of that magic to his drama pieces; after all you had Dennis Leary just standing around waiting for something to do.

The third frame does pick up the pace trying to pull off a two minute drill on the audience, unfortunately by then the viewers have gone into a prevent defense unwilling to give up an easy score. Draft Day misses the chance to cross pollinate two distinct set of fans. One, the men who love their football which the NFL gave up amazing access for this film, and two, the poor women that are dragged along to sports movies by the men who love football. Both are left unsatisfied and unfulfilled by this mixed metaphor of a movie about embracing the new and at that same time not bowing to pressure to change. So ultimately there isn’t enough football or enough loving going around. Draft Day left me wanting. Wanting either a super cool look inside the NFL draft and all its mysteries or a good ole Kevin Costner chick flick and I got neither.

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