Draft Day

Directed By: Ivan Reitman

Starring: Kevin Costner, Jennifer Garner, Denis Leary, Frank Langella, Sam Elliott, Ellen Burstyn, and Chadwick Boseman

I despise utterly predictable films.  As a moviegoer, there's nothing worse than wasting my time on a movie that offers nothing refreshing or imaginative whatsoever.  Arguably, that's most of what we're facing at the box office this weekend.  We've got another animated sequel in Rio 2 intended to tap into parents' wallets.  We've also got another formulaic sports movie in Draft Day intended to tap into the wallets of all those dads who opt out of the bird-filled animated sequel.  Those aren't exactly intriguing prospects for movie lovers.

Cleveland Browns general manager Sonny Weaver, Jr. (Kevin Costner) isn't exactly having a great day.  His father Sonny Weaver, Sr. passed away last week, and he's still grappling with the reality that he fired his own flesh and blood as head coach of the Browns.  Sonny's girlfriend and staff member Ali Parker (Jennifer Garner) informs him this morning that she's pregnant.  Because of his less than enthusiastic response, she's now avoiding him.  Worst of all, it's draft day in the NFL.  With this in mind, Browns owner Harvey Molina (Frank Langella), head coach Vince Penn (Denis Leary), and everyone else in the office is pressuring Sonny to make what they each perceive to be the right picks for the team.

In the morning, Sonny receives a call from Seattle Seahawks general manager Tom Michaels (Patrick St. Esprit).  For number one draft pick Bo Callahan (Josh Pence), the Seahawks want the Browns next three #1 picks.  That's quite a steep trade, but Sonny caves into the pressure and takes the deal.  This quickly animates owner Harvey Molina and alienates the rest of Sonny’s staff.  Because Sonny's bet it all on this one young quarterback, he wants to find out what's wrong with his new star.  No matter how great he is, there's always something, and Sonny is going to find it.  Meanwhile, Sonny still has a few tricks up his sleeve, and potential draft picks Vontae Mack (Chadwick Boseman) and Ray Jennings (Arian Foster) are on his radar.

If last year's Wedding Crashers reunion The Internship was a love letter to Google, then Draft Day is undoubtedly a love letter to the NFL and the world of professional football.  The difference is that The Internship was actually a good movie.  Director Ivan Reitman offers nothing but a rosy, nostalgic view of the multibillion dollar industry that says nothing new or meaningful about the sport.  All he does is glorify the draft and the high rollers that propel it.  Beyond this, Reitman laces the film with dual shots and frequently swipes in and out of different scenes in annoying fashion.  These are just two of my gripes with Draft Day.

Another problem plaguing Reitman's Draft Day is that the film plays on the charms of its stars.  For a film of this quality with as many talents as it has, this is anything but surprising.  Each of the stars gives exactly the kind of performance you would expect of him or her.  For his part as our star Sonny Weaver, Jr., Kevin Costner gives us the silent brooding type who occasionally throws out a biting one-liner.  As Sonny's girlfriend Ali, Jennifer Garner gives us the spunky woman she portrays in a good chunk of her movies.  As Cleveland Browns owner Harvey Molina, Frank Langella mails in his performance as a tough-talking yet charismatic boss.  Lastly, Denis Leary delivers a headstrong coach who serves as the proverbial thorn in the side of Sonny.  There's nothing unexpected or noteworthy here.

You can see that I don't have too much love for Draft Day.  It's a saccharine attempt at an all-American film that lacks authenticity and originality.  It's an uninteresting love letter to the NFL in the offseason that has no place at the box office.  Have some gin and tonic with this one.  Draft Day gets a 0.09% rating.