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The new football flick starring Kevin Costner is titled, rather obviously, Draft Day. Not a terrible choice, as the story follows Sonny Weaver Jr. (Costner) as he narrows down draft picks for the Cleveland Browns during the hours leading up to the NFL draft. Think Jerry Maguire meets Moneyball, with a little Field of Dreams thrown in for good measure.
And if we mark it up on the whiteboard, the PG-13 movie has some bright prospects. Costner here is at his monotone, puppy-dog-eyed best, and several young players like Vontae Mack (Chadwick Boseman) are nearly as entertaining as Jerry Maguire’s Cuba Gooding Jr. Director Ivan Reitman makes interesting use of phone calls and video cams, moving back and forth across American cityscapes as NFL franchises, agents, and potential players match wits to win the day.
By the fourth quarter, though, too many subplots confuse the story emotionally. And morally, though the movie isn’t graphic or violent, it is mildly offensive. As Weaver struggles to choose his first draftee, he gives one prospect, Bo Callahan (Josh Pence), the third degree for telling a small lie and being prideful (apparently the guy’s drinking and carousing is OK).
Yet Weaver himself has far greater flaws. For instance, the movie kicks off with Weaver at home with Ali (Jennifer Garner)—his secret lover and subordinate at work—having just announced she’s having his baby. By the end of the day, Weaver owns up to his responsibility as a father, but never acknowledges he’s done anything wrong. Weaver throws a temper tantrum and smashes a computer into a wall. He uses the Lord’s name in vain numerous times, and refuses to attend his dad’s memorial service for a selfish reason.
With such a flawed hero given the moral high ground, Draft Day doesn’t make the cut.