Running Time: 1 hour 49 minutes
The task of rebuilding the moribund Cleveland Browns has belonged to Sonny Weaver Jr. (Kevin Costner) for the last two years, but the team has made little progress. With the NFL Draft on the doorstep, this may be the last opportunity that Sonny has to turn his team into a winner. The owner (Frank Langella) and head coach (Denis Leary) both have very strong opinions as to what direction the team should take and as the pressure mounts Sonny seems closer and closer to losing control. When added to the turmoil in his personal life, Sonny may be leading his beloved Browns to complete disaster.
As an avowed NFL Draft nerd, I loved the inside look at the machinations behind what can be the most important day in a team’s season. More than any other sport, in the NFL teams are capable of going from worst to first in a single season, and this allows for fans to possess a boundless optimism going into the draft. That is played up inDraft Day and using the perpetually struggling Cleveland Browns as the backdrop to tell this story, was especially effective. Kevin Costner, as always, feels very at home in the world of sports, and he makes Sonny relatable as a man who has the most important day of his career fall during one of the most difficult periods of his life. The movie also effectively asks the audience the question: Is Sonny the smartest guy in the room, or is he only outsmarting himself?
Not all of the subplots in the film are created equal (the scene with Sonny’s mother and ex-wife is a bit discordant), but the tension and conflict between Costner and Leary really pops. I could have used more time in the War Room with Sonny and his scouting staff plotting their moves, instead of Sonny playing lone wolf all the time. Jennifer Garner is also in a lot of scenes, but still felt strangely underutilized. Ultimately, Draft Day successfully tells the story it sets out to tell, and puts inside a world we rarely get to see. B-