Essentially this year's Moneyball, but set in American football rather than baseball, this fast-paced drama is brightly made with an especially strong cast. But only die-hard fans will be able to drum up much interest in the plot, which is played as if it's the most important thing on earth. This insular approach is seriously alienating for audience members with even the slightest sense of perspective about life. Thankfully, the actors are likeable and entertaining.
It's set over the 12 hours leading up to the NFL draft, when teams select the top players from university teams. In Cleveland, manager Sonny (Kevin Costner) is struggling to hang on to his job, arguing with Coach Penn (Denis Leary) about who should be the first pick. And when he swaps with another team for the top selection, the team owner (Frank Langella) pressures Sonny to take the most highly desired player in the field (Josh Pence). But Sonny has his doubts, and amid backroom dealings and frantic last-minute swaps, he also looks at another promising player (Chadwick Boseman) while making sure the team's current quarterback (Tom Welling) is up to his job. Meanwhile, Sonny and the team's financial manager Ali (Jennifer Garner) are in a secret relationship and have just found out that they're pregnant.
Most of this takes place during phone calls, but director Ivan Reitman manages to make this visually intriguing using whizzy split-screen trickery. And while Garner's character feels utterly irrelevant, like a distraction to the main football plot , she adds the badly needed human interest element, as do two other actresses in smaller roles: Ellen Burstyn and Rosanna Arquette as Sonny's mother and ex-wife, respectively. There are also strong cameos from the likes of Sean Combs as a high-powered agent and Sam Elliot as a sporting veteran. And it's all anchored effortlessly by Costner's affable charm, providing resonance in Sonny's attempt to play a long game while being pushed to make the flashier decisions.
Continue reading: Draft Day Review