Monday, August 3, 2015

5Q Movie Review: Draft Day (2014)

Q: This movie features the cooperation of the NFL in the form of real team names and logos, appearances by NFL Network personalities, and even a role for Commissioner Roger Goodell as himself. Is this an authentic look at the annual NFL player draft?
A: No! The entire scenario that unfolds in "Draft Day," involving multiple last-minute trades of high draft picks, Costner's general manager making rash decisions without involving anyone in his organization, etc., is laughable. The story strains credibility at the beginning, then becomes increasingly ludicrous.

Q: Do you have to be a football fan to enjoy "Draft Day"?
A: It's hard for me to judge how a non-fan would react to it, but I think it helps to know how the NFL Draft really works, not because it enhances your appreciation of the movie, but because it lets you enjoy how bad it is. A mediocre film becomes a true howler.

The story centers on the pursuit of a franchise QB named Bo Callahan. Costner makes a reckless move to get the number one pick so he can get Callahan, THEN decides he needs to research the player. This is on the day of the draft, mind you. Then he changes his mind and starts making more reckless trades, and THEN the movie contorts itself so that the team he originally traded with has to reverse its position for no reason, all so that Costner's GM (who is compared to Joe Montana) can be lauded as some sort of genius. In real life, the guy would be pilloried for not understanding the process, even if he somehow were able to do everything he does in this story.

Q: Is Kevin Costner at least credible as the Cleveland Browns general manager?
A: The stuff he does is ridiculous, but Costner in a sports movie delivers just about every time. It's a good thing because while "Draft Day" half-heartedly tries to weave in threads about his complicated relationship with Jennifer Garner's salary cap guru and with his mother and late father, there isn't much else going on here. The focus is on the machinations of the draft, and there is little compelling about any character in the film, Costner included.

Q: What about the rest of the cast?
A: It seems like a waste to cast Denis Leary as a head coach but not give him a chance to do a lengthy rant--at the team, at Costner, at the guy who does research for the media guide, anybody. He just kinds of bitches about things the whole time until he suddenly does a 180 and embraces Costner's character like he's Ron Wolf.

Jennifer Garner doesn't have much to do, but then again, neither does anyone else. It's kind of nice to see Rosanna Arquette again for a few minutes. I assume someone owed Sean Combs a favor and that's why he has a role as Bo Callhan's agent. I would have rather seen more of Terry Crews, who plays a different agent.

There's a small taste of "Veep" with Kevin Dunn and Timothy Simons, plus Tom Welling in a small role. I have to admit I didn't recognize Welling. Frank Langella and Ellen Burstyn do decent work as (basically) a-holes: the a-hole team owner and Costner's a-hole mother.

There are a lot of other recognizable faces, too, plus a bevy of ESPN and pro football cameos, but none stands out. It's a very Costner-centric movie.

Q: What should Costner's next sports movie be?
A: Even if I don't like the movies, there's something about Costner in a sports flick that's just so easy to watch. I want to say him play a fictionalized version of Vince McMahon in a period piece about 1980s professional wrestling.

How about a story with Costner as a controversial former tennis pro who sees a chance for redemption in training a rising superstar? We don't  get enough tennis movies.

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