Movies: Draft Day

Kevin Costner has a history of emotionally intense and gratifying sports movies. Field of Dreams, of course, but also Bull Durham, and For Love of the Game, and even the lighter Tin Cup. All good stuff, and Draft Day is a solid entry into this list.

I'll be honest here: I'm not a very sporty person. I grew up in Texas, where football is a state-mandated religion, and I still managed to only ever attend one football game (a Homecoming game in high school). In fact, to date that is the only football game I've ever been to. I've watched some on television since then, but I still can't tell you all the rules or positions or whatever. I know they want to get the ball to the opposite end of the field, and then they want to kick it through the yellow thing. That's about it.

(I'm better with baseball, but had to have a nice stranger explain how the game was played when I went to my first Red Sox game.)

Anyway, despite a lack of working knowledge of these sports, I have enjoyed the Costner films, which have a way of being accessible to all audiences regardless of sportiness (if that's the word). Still, I had my reservations about a whole movie devoted to the NFL draft? I mean, really?

And yet . . . Even though it was clear where things would land by the end of it all . . . I was still very engaged with this movie. I did not have my iPhone out, I didn't wander around—I was focused. Which is something I can say of fewer and fewer films these days.

They say a journey isn't about the destination, it's about how you get there and what you see and do along the way. And that's how Draft Day felt. I knew, deep down, there was only one "right" way to end the film. But the twists and turns along that road were highly entertaining. There were intense moments. It was good stuff.

Costner does a great job (his usual), and Jennifer Garner was a good foil for him. I liked Denis Leary, too, doing his typically gruff thing. And I didn't even recognize Tom Welling. (Remember when he was Superman? He probably hates being reminded all the time. But it was nice to see him doing other things.)

If you're wondering about specifics, well, Costner plays Sonny Weaver Jr., general manager of the Cleveland Browns. And it's (you guessed it!) NFL draft day. So the film counts down the hours as Sonny wheels and deals and tries to decide who to pick. There is some emotional drama, of course: Sonny is secretly seeing someone in the office (though everyone knows), and he's grieving his father who died just a week before—Coach Weaver being a legacy for whom the practice field was named. No pressure there or anything.

Ultimately it's a story of going with your gut when you've got a million voices shouting at you. It's a story of inner confidence and outer strength. That kind of thing.

Maybe I liked it because I had no real expectations for it. But in any case, I heartily enjoyed Draft Day.

No comments: