By Craig Martin
Producer/director Ivan Reitman, of Ghostbusters and Stripes fame, has stepped into the football world with Draft Day. This is the story of the fictionalized 2014 NFL Draft and follows Cleveland Browns General Manager Sonny Weaver Jr. (Kevin Costner) as he tries to rebuild a team he had a hand in turning into a lower tiered football organization.
When Weaver receives news that he has the ability to trade up to the number one overall pick, he must balance the decision of whether or not to take the huge deal, with his own personal stresses of home life with his pregnant girlfriend, Cleveland Browns personal finance attorney Ali Parker (Jennifer Garner). Who ever heard of an NFL person having a pregnant girlfriend? Wait, I think that has to happen before you can be an NFL person. The film then follows the wild behind the scenes aspect of the NFL as events change on a dime and the problems pile up on Weaver and the organization.
The first thing that I noticed about the movie was just how much it was trying and failing to be Moneyball, which is, in my opinion, the best made sports film of the past decade. Draft Day attempts to dramatize the inner workings of the people who build a sports team but doesn’t hit nearly as hard as Moneyball. Draft Day tries to concoct drama from too many places outside of the actual sports business arena.
For example, a huge motivator for Weaver is trying to step out from behind the shadow of the fan adored former Browns coach that recently passed away, Sonny Weaver Sr. That’s right, Sonny’s dad. Between this and the storyline regarding Ali’s pregnancy and Weaver Jr. having to deal with being a father for the first time, it seemed the drama was delving away from happening naturally to simply being shoved down the audience’s throat. We understand that Weaver is stressed.
Each of these storylines is a movie in and of itself, but all of these unnecessary extra problems shoved into this film scream that this story is unsure of itself and it needs to throw in more things to make it better. It’s like a dish at a restaurant with too many ingredients that were meant to make it look flashy but sacrifices taste.
And it is in that aspect that Draft Day fails to become what it wanted to be, another Moneyball. Moneyball was great because it was very realistic. First of all, it was a true story, but moreover the way it was told was very toned down and soft in its approach, and that’s why it worked. The opposite can be said about Draft Day and that’s why it fails.
For me it’s worth a rent if you’re a big sports fan, because the scenes of the drama of the actual draft are very nice and the added realism of putting actual ESPN analysts like Chris Berman in the film was a nice touch. Not to mention the humorous trio of disgruntled players who are constantly complaining about how many millions they are worth to the team.
If you’re not a sports fan though, you probably won’t appreciate the cameos and the drama on top of drama for drama’s sake, which ironically enough takes away from the film.