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Draft Day (2014)

tomatometer

62

Average Rating: 6/10
Reviews Counted: 128
Fresh: 79 | Rotten: 49

It's perfectly pleasant for sports buffs and Costner fans, but overall, Draft Day lives down to its title by relying too heavily on the sort of by-the-numbers storytelling that only a statistician could love.

55

Average Rating: 5.8/10
Critic Reviews: 38
Fresh: 21 | Rotten: 17

It's perfectly pleasant for sports buffs and Costner fans, but overall, Draft Day lives down to its title by relying too heavily on the sort of by-the-numbers storytelling that only a statistician could love.

audience

70

liked it
Average Rating: 3.7/5
User Ratings: 24,407

My Rating

Movie Info

On the day of the NFL Draft, general manager Sonny Weaver (Costner) has the opportunity to save football in Cleveland when he trades for the number one pick. He must quickly decide what he's willing to sacrifice in pursuit of perfection as the lines between his personal and professional life become blurred on a life-changing day for a few hundred young men with dreams of playing in the NFL. (c) Lionsgate

PG-13,

Drama

Scott Rothman, Rajiv Joseph

Sep 2, 2014

$28.8M

Summit Entertainment - Official Site External Icon

Cast

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All Critics (128) | Top Critics (38) | Fresh (79) | Rotten (49)

Ivan Reitman's dull-witted movie about the flurries of player trading on N.F.L. draft day might be a commercial for professional football.

April 21, 2014 Full Review Source: New Yorker
New Yorker
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A human drama sprinkled with a number of laughs.

April 19, 2014 Full Review Source: Richard Roeper.com
Richard Roeper.com
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Draft Day isn't even really about football. It's about coming into your own and finding clarity at a personal and professional crossroads. It's about doing your job. It's a day in the life.

April 15, 2014 Full Review Source: ChristyLemire.com
ChristyLemire.com
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Thanks to Costner's sly, dry-aged charisma, it marches down the field and scores.

April 11, 2014 Full Review Source: Entertainment Weekly
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic IconTop Critic

"Draft Day" might be a trick play, but it manages to score.

April 11, 2014 Full Review Source: Newsday
Newsday
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's a sign of Costner's enduring stardom that he can skate through a movie this hyperactive and dull, yet still have you like him.

April 11, 2014 Full Review Source: Grantland
Grantland
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The longer this picks-pic runs its plays, the safer and more sanitized it seems, until this romanticizing ad is like a crazed safety, covering way more of the backfield (backroom drama, office romance, family drama, etc.) than ever becomes interesting.

July 2, 2014 Full Review Source: Vue Weekly (Edmonton, Canada)
Vue Weekly (Edmonton, Canada)

Costner reminds just why he was, at one point in time, one of the most popular movie stars in the world, for his natural, flawed everyman relatability has never more effectively used in recent memory.

May 2, 2014 Full Review Source: TheMovieReport.com
TheMovieReport.com

It's not about winning a big game and it's not about an underdog team getting its one chance. 'Draft Day' is an enjoyable sports movie that isn't about football per se. It's about the politics of what goes into selecting players for a team.

April 24, 2014 Full Review Source: Quad City Times (Davenport, IA)
Quad City Times (Davenport, IA)

Fans will enjoy the air of authenticity, spotting the real-life sports personalities---and throwing penalty flags when Hollywood puts a bit too much melodramatic spin on the subject.

April 22, 2014 Full Review Source: American Profile
American Profile

'Draft Day' will likely go down as the greatest sports movie from the director of 'Ghostbusters.'

April 21, 2014 Full Review Source: Columbus Alive
Columbus Alive

The level of authenticity should please fans, yet its embellishments and efforts to cater to a wider demographic might frustrate those same viewers.

April 18, 2014 Full Review Source: Cinemalogue.com
Cinemalogue.com

Reitman and Costner give the NFL a pass

April 18, 2014 Full Review Source: Movie Habit
Movie Habit

None of the non-football window dressing elevates the story beyond the obvious attempt to make football fans happy.

April 18, 2014 Full Review Source: Atlantic City Weekly
Atlantic City Weekly

...the movie remains oddly watchable, even if an underlying tale in which millionaires are going to get richer a little faster may have trouble making it onto the highlight reel these days.

April 16, 2014 Full Review Source: Metro Times (Detroit, MI)
Metro Times (Detroit, MI)

Kevin Costner and director Ivan Reitman attempt a fourth-quarter miracle in the largely flat Draft Day.

April 16, 2014 Full Review Source: People Magazine
People Magazine

Reitman makes sure that characters are usually walking somewhere as they speak and that the frame is almost constantly wiping back and forth or split into halves and thirds, like a masculinist Pillow Talk.

April 14, 2014 Full Review Source: Movies.com
Movies.com

This combo of 'inside football' and Capra-corn fable of being one's own man in the face of total opposition...amounts to a corporate training film full of Trump-card koans...

April 14, 2014 Full Review Source: Groucho Reviews
Groucho Reviews

Less a disquisition on beta-masculinity than an engaging extension of the National Football League brand. But it works far more than it doesn't, connecting with pleasure and heart.

April 13, 2014 Full Review Source: Paste Magazine
Paste Magazine

Shrewdly suspensful...not as good as 'Moneyball' or "Jerry Maguire,' but football fanatics will undoubtedly enjoy it.

April 12, 2014 Full Review Source: SSG Syndicate
SSG Syndicate

Costner gives his best performance in years as a decent man trying to steer a steady course knowing it may cost him his reputation and his job if he's wrong.

April 12, 2014 Full Review Source: New England Movies Weekly
New England Movies Weekly

Draft Day is a wobbly completion.

April 12, 2014 Full Review Source: tonymacklin.net
tonymacklin.net

An engaging affair ... But I suspect those who know absolutely nothing about football will have better luck understanding the Esperanto in Incubus than the gridiron shenanigans on display in this new release.

April 12, 2014 Full Review Source: Creative Loafing
Creative Loafing

Audience Reviews for Draft Day

Coming from a football fan, it could be a biased opinion, but Draft Day is a perfectly enjoyable film full of intrigue and charm that is only bogged down by its' uninteresting romantic subplot.
June 1, 2014
Kase Vollebregt

Super Reviewer

It'll definitely be called a commercial for the NFL, but I don't care, because I love the NFL. I even got a cameo by the Bills! (Not to mention a peek at the acting debut of Arian Foster...). It's major cornball at times, but if you like the NFL (or fun new takes on the one f-bomb rule in PG-13 movies) this'll just fire you up for the draft AND football being back in September.
April 26, 2014
flutieman07

Super Reviewer

While I was interested to see this film through, far too much of "Draft Day" is soap opera dramatic and stiff as hell. But I guess it's not all Rietman's fault. He does manage to coax as much theatrical entertainment out of an aspect of football that doesn't include the act of playing football.

Read the rest of my review at: http://www.examiner.com/review/draft-day-the-final-30-minutes-was-pretty-good

Follow me on Twitter @moviesmarkus
April 15, 2014
Markus Emilio Robinson
Markus Robinson

Super Reviewer

Let there be no question, while baseball may still cling to the title of "America's sport," the real king in the realm of sports is football. The NFL has grown by leaps and bounds and dominated American culture, to the point that the NFL Draft is an event that millions more watch than actual games in other sports. In some way the Draft is the most optimistic day in football, where every professional team thinks they've found the missing pieces to make that championship run, that their draft picks will all pan out. It's a rare day where even the Cleveland Browns can be optimistic. There's also been a shift with the fans. Decades ago, most people would fantasize about being an NFL head coach; nowadays, in the age of number-crunching and fantasy football, most people would prefer being an NFL general manager (GM), assembling their dream team. The landscape is ready for a film like Draft Day, but will the fans turn out for a fictional outing?

Sony Weaver Jr. (Kevin Costner) is the GM for the Cleveland Browns and he's put the team's future all on the line. He's traded draft picks with the Seattle Seahawks, jumping from number seven to number one. Everyone assume that Wisconsin quarterback Bo Callahan (Josh Pence) is the consensus number one. Sonny has traded his team's first round draft picks for the next three years in order to make this move. Now, with less than twelve hours remaining before the start of the NFL Draft, he has to make sure Bo Callahan is the kind of player he wants on his team. Highly regarded Ohio State linebacker Vontae Mack (Chadwick Boseman) has sparked doubt in Sonny. Despite what the experts think, is there something amiss with Bo? Sonny has no shortage of people with opinions on what he should do: the owner (Frank Langella) demands Bo so they can sell tickets, the coach (Denis Leary) wants a prized running back rather than having to struggle with a rookie QB, and Sonny's coworker, Ali (Jennifer Garner), wants Sonny to come clean about their secret relationship and her impending pregnancy.

Less cerebral than Moneyball but still mightily entertaining, Draft Day is a pressure-packed crowd-pleaser skillfully made to deliver big payoffs, regardless of whether you watch football or not. Like the Oscar-nominated Moneyball, the focus is less on the game than the micromanaging of the game behind the scenes with the key personalities of an organization. The movie is knowledgeable, swift, and stuffed with characters that each have their own demands, always crashing into Sonny and pulling him in a new direction. It's easy to see why this script was the number one screenplay on the Black List in 2013; it just moves, so effortlessly, cognizant of the ticking clock at every moment and the impending stakes for our hero. It's a man with one mission: the future of the Browns, but with infinite ways to do it, each side pushing a favorable case for themselves. There are so many permutations to putting together a team, let alone having the number one pick. And if Sonny doesn't make a splash, he knows he'll be out of a job at the end of the season. It's a position rife with conflict and dramatic payoffs. There's the pressure of the fanbase, hungering for a winner to finally root for, the pressure of the owner, salivating over the ticket sales a splashy QB can provide, and there's the pressure of Sonny's own father, a man who recently passed that forces Sonny to reflect on what will be his own legacy with the Cleveland Browns. As a sports fan, it's fascinating for me to listen to experts talk about the nuts and bolts of putting a team together. As a movie fan, it's easy to get into the film with its underdog protagonist, a man trying to get out of a hole of his own doing, which means his moments of triumph are even more resonant.

The film smartly presents itself as a combination of an investigative mystery and a high-stakes con game. Sonny has the number one pick and yet his gut is telling him something is amiss with the surefire can't miss quarterback prospect. With the Draft that very day, Sonny is under tremendous pressure to conduct a speedy background check into Bo Callahan. Each minute that passes the more significant it becomes to know who Bo is and follow the leads on questionable evidence; Sonny can't assign the future of the franchise to a player that will leave it in ruins (or in the case of the Browns, more ruins). Sonny has mortgaged his team's future and the pick better be worth it. The Freakonomics guys estimated that a bad franchise QB (think the Raiders with JaMarcus Russell in 2007) could set back a team on average five years. Likewise, the film balances this ongoing mystery with a con game. Every team is trying to fleece the gullible and needy, and Sonny fields offers for his top pick, some laughable and some tempting. Once the Draft kicks off, and Sonny steers his team in the direction he desires, that's when the film gets even more exciting. We watch the man spin and deal and conspire, flexing muscle against other teams and regaining a position of strength. It's tremendous fun for football fans and non-fans alike just to watch a professional in their element con his way to victory.

With as much conflict that comes naturally from the setup, I wish Draft Day didn't feel so sitcom-y at times, shoehorning in trite additional conflicts and storylines. Let's just assess the day for Sonny: he's the GM with the number one pick, his future and the team's future hangs in the balance, but his father also just died, his mother insists upon an ashes scattering burial that day, he has to perform a deep background check on his would-be franchise QB, he's been harboring a secret relationship with an assistant who wants to go public, and he's just been informed he's going to be a father. That's a lot of conflict for one man in a period of one day, and the confluence of all this drama in such a short window of time is far too unbelievable. You might wager that at the end of Draft Day Sonny puts a pistol in his mouth. The romance with Ali, and his impending fatherhood, never really works, serving up Sonny an opportunity to reflect and squeeze in some exposition, a life outside of football. The romance subplot feels tacked on and malnourished. Likewise, there are characters and moments that feel like they were slapped together as apart of some broad marketing package. Ali has a hapless intern who always comically happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Well, it's supposed to be funny, but it just feels forced. There's a scene where the Browns' coach sets a draft analysis on fire, dropping it onto Sonny's desk, only to have Ali douse it with a fire extinguisher. Football is a theatrical game to begin with, attracting colorful characters with oversized egos, but actions like this just feel strangely silly and false.

Director Ivan Reitman hasn't made many films since 2001's underrated Evolution, and one of those was the horrendously unfunny, misogynistic My Super Ex-Girlfriend, so the prospect of "an Ivan Reitman film" doesn't have the same draw as it once did. His touch with actors is still kicking. Costner (3 Days to Kill) is great in a role suited to his talents. Even with a thankless role, Garner (Dallas Buyers Club) can be a winning big screen presence. The film is packed with great actors filling out even the smallest of roles (hooray Sam Elliott, Chi McBride, Terry Crews, Timothy Simons, and Kevin Dunn). Boseman impressed me more with a handful of scenes here than in the entirety of 42 as Jackie Robinson. The best decision Reitman makes as a director is to present the movie as the breezy two hour-entertainment it is, keeping the pacing to the floor. However, Reitman gets drunk on hi use of split-screens. It begins on an interesting note, with one side transitioning beyond the division of the split-screen. Then it happens. Again and again, sometimes repeatedly in one scene. It was a neat visual device that Reitman just can't let go of, which might actually get some people queasy with the sliding scenes.

Time for a personal disclosure: as a diehard fan of the Ohio State Buckeyes and a relative fan of the ever-suffering Cleveland Browns, this movie was tailor-made for my own sports fandom. The people of Cleveland will especially enjoy this movie. During my preview screening, when the Seahawks brass asked, "Who would be that desperate?" and the scene cut to a skyline of Cleveland, my audience cheered. That's us, they all agreed. The world of Draft Day also exists in a slightly parallel plane where the Dallas Cowboys have won "a lot" including recent championships. Enjoy that fiction, Dallas fans. In the original draft by writers by Scott Rothman and Rajiv Joseph, Sonny was the GM of the Buffalo Bills, but cosmically it just feels correct that it's the Browns, a team defined by its long history of letdowns, epic collapses, draft busts, and comical mismanagement. It's eerie that the Browns themselves are faced with a similar situation for the 2014 Draft. Many pundits predict the Browns will select a new franchise QB with their number four pick, but are any of these young men up to snuff? Are there character concerns for Johnny Football? Should the Browns give their own promising quarterback another chance after a season-ending injury before starting over at the position? Eerie.

Draft Day isn't exactly the football equivalent of Moneyball, but it's close, though more mainstream in appeal and execution. As a football fan, I've been looking for an intelligent and analytical look behind the scenes of the most physical of American sports. In 1999, Oliver Stone came close with the expansive Any Given Sunday. With this movie, we have a mixture of genres (mystery, con, existential drama) that turn the sports movie into something greater. It's fun, often humorous, breezy, charming, and agreeably entertaining even when it takes one too many forced detours amidst all the conflict. You don't have to be a football fan to have a good time with Draft Day, though it helps. This movie very well may be the highpoint of the Cleveland Browns season this year.

Nate's Grade: B+
April 11, 2014
boxman
Nate Zoebl

Super Reviewer

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