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MOVIE REVIEW: Draft Day

Genre: Drama, action, sports
Director: Ivan Reitman
Producers: Ivan Reitman, Ali Ball, Joe Medjuck
Screenwriters: Rajiv Joseph, Scott Rothman
Studio: OddLot Entertainment, Montecito Picture Company
Starring: Kevin Costner, Jennifer Garner, Denis Leary

I could be in a very small group of people who love the NFL Draft just as much as the league’s Super Bowl. There’s something fascinating about the scouting of players, the gambling of millions of dollars on potential stars and busts of young athletes and the joy and angst of your favorite team’s picks that hooks me. Thus, when the movie “Draft Day,” starring Kevin Costner, came out, I was compelled to see it. And I’m glad I did.

The movie centers around Costner’s character, Sonny Weaver Jr., the fictional general manager of the woeful Cleveland Browns, who seems to be having the worst day ever.

We quickly learn his secret relationship with a coworker, played by the lovely Jennifer Garner, heats up with a bun-in-the-oven surprise that Sonny struggles to accept. There’s also the grieving stage Sonny is in still from the death of his father, who was a legendary coach of the team until Sonny had to fire him due to his mother’s pressure to do so.

Then there’s work, which is a whole other headache. From feeling the critical eyes upon him for firing his father, the Browns owner (played by Frank Langella, who is always great playing the big meanie part) pressuring him to make a splash in the upcoming draft, to butting heads with the new coach (Denis Leary) over who to pick in the first round, to dealing with a snot-nose intern who gets under his skin way too easily, the pressure keeps mounting and you wonder when and how Sonny is going to crack.

This sets the stage for a interesting plot and a cool peek into the business of professional football that many of us fans don’t get to see much.

“Draft Day” definitely has a bit of a “Jerry McGuire” touch to it, but with less of the sappy romance stuff. It also has a bit of “Moneyball” to it, as well. “Draft Day,” you can argue, is somewhere in between those two great movies.

Where “Jerry McGuire” pulled in the women because of Tom Cruise’s sex appeal and the movie’s pull of the audience’s heartstrings, and where “Moneyball” plays out a real-life story with an ending less than happy ever after, “Draft Day” gives you that fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants action that an NFL general manager would endure on one single day during the draft.

Though not a family flick, nor a movie you’d take a date to (unless she’s a football nut, in which case she’s a keeper), “Draft Day” is a solidly entertaining movie that can only fire up the typical football fan — such as myself — who is suffering through the off-season and impatiently waiting for this year’s draft to start.

Ryan Schlehuber is the features editor for The Daily News is a movies junkie who loves the whole experience of going to the movie theater. His likes, as far as movies go, range from action to scary to drama to documentaries, and admits he can watch “Snatch,” “Tommy Boy,” “Indiana Jones,” “Shaun of the Dead,” “French Kiss” and “Castaway” on a daily basis.

Reviewed by Ryan Schlehuber "Scoop" on 30 April 2014

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