Day 4 in the Alphabet Challenge (Alphabet Challenge) and today is…..Draft Day.
Sonny Weaver Jnr (Kevin Costner) is about to have a very trying day. He is general manager of the Cleveland Browns NFL team and is going into his biggest day of the year – draft day. The day in which 224 young players are picked by the 36 teams of the National Football League and the day in which the futures of these teams can be impacted by making the right choices.
Not only is that weighing on Weaver Jnr, but his girlfriend (Jennifer Garner) has just announced that she is pregnant. And what’s more, his father – Cleveland legendary coach Sonny Weaver Snr – passed away last week.
The Browns are in a tough place. The team have been struggling with form and the sporting town of Cleveland are losing patience with Weaver Jnr and his team. They need an injection of talent into the squad, and quickly.
There is certainly talent in the draft. The biggest name going is the likely first pick – college star quarterback Bo Callaghan. Amongst others, is also Vonte Mack line backer, and son of previous Browns hero and running back prospect Ray Jennings.
To compound the pressure, team owner Anthony Molina (Frank Langella) needs some big news in the draft as they need to sell tickets. Without a ‘big splash’ Weaver is going to be losing his job. Meanwhile, previous Super Bowl winner Coach Penn (Dennis Leary) is new to the team and has some strong opinions of the team that he wants to work with.
With all of the above, its lining up to be a really difficult day.
So, to the draft. The film follows Weaver Jnr through the day as he and his team field negotiations from different GM’s, questions and conversations with picks. Its a day of deals and pressure.
Firstly it’s accessible to people beyond NFL fans alone. It works hard to ensure that the principles of the draft are explained, commentators during the actual draft especially serving to keep the situations clear. Furthermore, its much more a story about people and character than it is about the workings of the draft itself.
The film is directed by Ian Reitman, whose previous work (which includes ‘Six Days, Seven Nights’, Ghostbusters 1/2, Legal Eagles, My Super Ex Girlfriend) all give hints about the tone that this film strikes.
The delivery of the film is solid enough and combinations of Costner (who is great in this film) and co, the big powerful score, and some camera work, they regularly create drama in things that aren’t necessarily too dramatic on paper (who went to someone else birthday party for example).
Also – the editing of shots in long distance phone call conversations is well done and keeps a number these situations visually interesting beyond the dialogue alone.
On the downside, Weaver’s new assistant ‘Rick’ who appears to be there solely for a number of attempted laughs, is over trying and misses the mark regularly.
This was never going to win any oscars nor be considered within the pantheon of great American cinema. The art of the ‘drama with some laughs’ isn’t easy but this is a respectable couple of hours worth of it.