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MOVIE REVIEW - Draft Day

on 10 April 2014.

Lots of hype surrounding the new Kevin Costner football movie, Draft Day.

The timing is really right for this movie to be made for many reasons. Because of the explosion of sports TV and social media, the actual draft day in the NFL has become the Oscars for young men.  It is a gigantic hyped media event, carried live on ESPN and social media, where guys can watch the wheeling's and dealing's of their favorite teams getting ready for the next season. Plus, Americans love football and it is tough to get a football fix this time of year. Also, this was filmed almost exclusively in Cleveland and Berea, home of the Browns.

Draft Day  is a fictional story of the very real Cleveland Browns, and their young and rogue general manager, Sonny Weaver (Costner).   He is at odds with the teams owner over what direction to take the Browns after many losing seasons.  So on draft day, he begins to strike deals with many other NFL teams for better draft positions, and picks.  All the while trying to balance his personal life, including his love life with Allie (Jennifer Garner), who he is having a relationship with in the office.  Sound boring?   It's not, this is a pretty good movie.

This is certainly entertaining.  And that is something that has been getting lost at the movies the past few years. We have become so preoccupied with effects, noise, computer generated sets, animation and superheros, it's refreshing to see a movie that is simply...simple.  This movie in it's feel, is very reminiscent of the Jackie Robinson flick last year in April, 42, starring Harrison Ford as Branch Rickey.  That too was entertaining.  Neither one of these movies are going to rewrite cinematic history, but they both are fun to watch.

Costner is very well cast as the lone wolf Weaver, and this is a gigantic role.  He just might be in every meaningful scene. And quite frankly, he delivers.  You do believe that he is Weaver, and you don't feel like you're watching a big movie star.  In that sense, it is reminiscent of Brad Pitt in Moneyball  two years ago.  Funny, Costner, Pitt and Ford, may actually give us career performances in some pretty good sports movies in the past few years. And none of them play sports figures.  They play the complex men behind the game.

The formula in these three movies is really smart.  Make a sports movie that is way beyond the actual sport.  Develop great characters, and put them in our world with sports a part of it, and not the only thing in it.  You don't have to be a sports junkie to enjoy any of these movies, and that really pertains here.  Anyone can jump in and hang on watching this movie.

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They explore the toll of draft day from many angles. The team, other teams, Sonny's, his family and friends, the owner, and the players being drafted.  It takes us inside the process, (understanding this is fiction), and shows us to a degree what this is all about.  I always respect movies that take us to places we have never been. And this is an original story, so extra points given.

This does have some writing problems in places, and there are a few too many sidebars for my taste, but none of that is a deal breaker.  Over all this is fun, entertaining, and most importantly does not wear out it's welcome, checking out at about 1 hour and 35 minutes.  Great decision. There was no more story to tell, and they didn't force it on us.

Draft Day.  Entertaining, worth a ticket. 

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