Taking a page from 1989's Major League, the film focuses on the city of Cleveland and the championship fantasy (so far) by revolving it around the Browns' front office and the 12 remaining hours until the 2014 NFL Draft begins.
Kevin Costner is Browns' GM Sonny Weaver, Jr. who's under the gun from the passionate blue-collar fan base and easy pickings for local sports radio to pick the right building blocks to lead Cleveland into contention. He has to choose between a media's darling, Wisconsin QB Bo Callahan (Josh Pence), Florida St. RB Ray Jennings (Arian Foster), and Ohio State LB Vontae Mack (Chadwick Boseman) with the No. 7 pick.
Not only that, he has to deal with some surprising news from his girlfriend, Ali (Jennifer Garner) who works with the salary cap, egotistical "style over substance" owner Anthony Molina (Frank Langella) whom just wants to win, disgruntled and frustrated 8 year QB Brian Drew (Tom Welling) and an stubborn head coach (Denis Leary) who continuously flashes his ring of macho man jewelry of success that he earned in Dallas. Was that back in 1995? Just checking.
You can tell that rookie writers Rajiv Joseph and Scott Rothman really dove deep into the life of a NFL GM. All these problems sound realistic, but I don't think all at once but that's how Hollywood fantasy works. The writing splashed across with real life sports jargon and authenticity on how a draft war room works during the draft process before it goes all nostalgic happy ending to us and yes, I know that's unreal but that's why they call it entertainment. I found myself so enamored by the process, I thought it was real at times.
Costner and company know that they are pros in their field proving it in this. Costner embodies an NFL GM so greatly that you can see why in sports films, he's Mr. Reliable. He even said that he's a purist and would only sign on if the NFL approved it. He alone is worth the price of a ticket. Once again, Garner knows to put a twist on the "nice girl posing" by showing she can be just one of the guys with her football expertise. Leary knows how to play a coach that wants to win and Boseman, Pence, Welling and even Foster get their moments to shine in the small screen time they get. Emboding passionate players loving this game. Foster was an undrafted running back at Tennessee, it was awesome to see him in the green room even it was just a movie.
Speaking about reliable, director Ivan Reitman (Twins, Ghostbusters) just knows how to deliver the goods. Using split screen to effective purposes especially when Weaver is talking to other NFL GM's and negotiating deals before the draft even starts and keeps the film grounded before it flies into overdone schmaltz. Without the NFL and NCAA's consent, this film would have been junk. NFL Films' footage, NFL analysts (including Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden) and even college game film make this film feel authentic. Rare to find nowadays. So, have a brew and enjoy the hell out of this.
Draft Day is a solid sports drama revolving around the pressure and stakes that an NFL GM has to deal with on that showstopping, high rating day of sports entertainment. With the likable Kevin Costner, an all star cast and many NFL personalities. This will definitely keep hardcore football fans occupied til May 8th when the 2014 NFL Draft kicks off.