Surprising and easy to get into. So this is about the general manager of the Cleveland Browns (Kevin Costner) who has some big decisions on his plate. When he finds himself presented with the number one draft pick, who will he decide to go with? There is one reason why this movie exists: Moneyball. I mean it makes total sense, right? You have a wildly successful movie that even managed to generate Oscar buzz, why wouldn’t you try to replicate this sports-movie-without-actually-featuring-any-sports formula? Now I liked Moneyball, but nowhere near to the extent that people went nuts over it, and I’ve never been big into football either, so you would think that I am not the intended audience for this.
I’ll admit, I was a little resistant to this due to how safe it presents itself to be; it really seems aimed at people who’ve been waiting for that one movie to try and connect with their father that spends all Sunday on the couch, and I’m a bit surprised that this wasn’t released on Father’s Day. Even though at its core this is a very standard and unspectacular story, there are elements that elevate it and make this a satisfying experience. For one, this is filled with very talented character actors; in addition to newcomers like Chadwick Boseman from 42 (who is very good here as well), you see people like Frank Langella, Denis Leary, Ellen Burstyn, W. Earl Brown and Sam Elliot pop up in roles of varying sizes, and they are all actors that have experience, know exactly what to bring to the table and how to do it. Even though this is a role that Costner could sleepwalk through, he does make the effort and serves as the appropriate anchor for this story.
It’s cool to see him work, and even when he has the deck stacked against him, he doesn’t roll over, he takes charge of the situation. In that sense, it does succeed as an underdog story because it is so accessible. In addition, this has some sleek editing and transitions that makes this flow more fluently than your standard affair. You can map out where this movie is going before it gets there, but that doesn’t interfere with it being enjoyable. Sometimes a movie that didn’t impress from previous scouting reports calls an audible at the last minute and gets a completed pass on an unexpected Hail Mary… Yeah, I still don’t understand sports metaphor.
Draft Day (2014) ***1/2
– Critic for Hire