Friday, April 11, 2014
And It Didn't Suck...
I also don't care for sports movies. In particular, I dislike the movies where sports is a metaphor for life, or a vital part of bringing a community together or crap like that. It may very well be true, but after being picked on by jocks as a kid, I find it very difficult to pull for the type of guys who would've beat me up for not doing their homework back in the day. So, yeah. I ain't big on sports movies, either.
Right off the bat, Draft Day has two big strikes against it, being a Kevin Costner sport movie. But it has one big thing going for it: It's about the NFL, the only sports organization in the world that I care about.
Draft Day follows Cleveland Browns G.M. Sonny Weaver, Jr. (Costner) as he wheels and deals his way through the hectic 12+ hour period leading up to the NFL Draft. Cleveland is in sad shape, coming off a 6-10 season and the team's owner, Anthony Molina (Frank Langella) wants to make a splash. More specifically, Molina wants to land stud QB prospect Bo Callahan (Josh Pence). Sonny's under pressure to pacify his owner and Browns fans or risk losing his job. At the same time, Sonny is trying to navigate a relationship with Ali (the always-lovely Jennifer Garner), the team's salary cap expert. Then there's the matter of dealing with Penn (Denis Leary), the coach Sonny's stuck working with.
Some critics have lauded this flick for it's realism. I've never been the general manager of a pro sports franchise, but I imagine this movie hits pretty close to the spot. Sonny gets to listen to sport-yakkers rip him a new one in time to have Penn try to do his job for him. He has to placate uppity players and schmooze with agents. I found the analysis of the players very interesting, as even small, seemingly mundane details about a player's behavior and character end up figuring big in the outcome of the movie. The calls between the different teams' personnel guys, the way those guys try to rip each other off... It all seemed very plausible to me.
Costner's performance isn't to flashy, but that's okay. He's credible as a guy whose livelihood depends on making decisions and hoping they pan out. Garner is a luminous presence. I loved watching her, but I'm biased. I'd watch her read a phone book. Griffin Newman stole the show as Rick the Intern. He got a laugh in every scene he was in. The movie also has some fun surprises folded into the cast, like the appearances of Chi "Pushing Daisies" McBride and Sam Elliot. Tom Welling even turns up, although I didn't recognize him at all.
Conducting this orchestra of movie-making is Ivan Reitman. He keeps the pace brisk and the story moving from location to location. There's not a ton of fancy camera work, although I found the insistence on playing scenes out in split frames, like comic book panels, a bit distracting. It reminded me of the Ang Lee Hulk movie, and that's not a complement.
Overall though, Draft Day was an enjoyable time. I dug Garner and tolerated Costner better than I thought I would. It's window into an interesting situation, one that football fans don't often get to see the inside of very often. If I had it to do over again, I'd probably wait until Draft Day hits the cheap theaters. But it's worth taking the time to watch.