Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes
SALT LAKE CITY — It might not be fantasy football, but it’s a good football fantasy. Kevin Costner’s new film “Draft Day” offers a 50-yard line seat to the high-pressure games played off the gridiron.
Costner stars as Sonny Weaver Jr, manager of the Cleveland Browns who is under incredible pressure from team owner Anthony Molina, played by Frank Langella, to make a real “splash” in the draft and help boost ticket sales.
Dennis Leary is the team’s coach who has his own ideas regarding the draft and isn’t shy about flashing his Super Bowl ring while offering his opinions. Sonny has always dreamed of being able to manage a team made of the players he wants and he’s determined to make that happen.
The movie opens with the clock beginning to tick down from 12 hours to the draft itself. We follow Sonny throughout the day as he navigates not only the professional challenges, but personal issues as well, including relationship problems with his girlfriend Ali, played by Jennifer Garner.
Ali is a home-grown Cleveland girl who is a football fanatic and works for the team trying constantly to keep the organization within the salary cap. This all brings a little romance into a story that otherwise is pretty much pure testosterone. Add to all of this, Sonny’s mom who chooses this day, of all days, to not only criticize a major trade, but she also wants Sonny’s participation in a tribute to her late husband and former coach of the Browns, Sonny Weaver Sr. Honestly, some of this stuff doesn’t quite click.
Early in the day, Sonny strikes a deal with the Seattle Seahawks that make the “splash” that ownership wants but costs the team dearly in future draft picks. Has he made a major blunder or is this part of an overall brilliant strategy relying on some luck? Watching it all unfold is riveting and a lot of fun.
Something else that add to this film is the cooperation from the Cleveland Browns and the NFL. Scenes were shot in real settings and at the draft itself. Some of the notable cameos include NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, sportscaster Chris Berman, and we even get a scene with legendary Jim Brown. The unprecedented access, the actual folks who steer the NFL and play the game, add credibility to this movie.
I’ve liked all of Costner’s sports movies, "Tin Cup," "For the Love of the Game" and of course, "Field of Dreams"…and this is no exception. 3 stars for "Draft Day" and it’s rated PG-13.