There’s nothing wrong with that. I can be entertained and involved when I watch Moneyball on cable, while I know that much of what’s discussed is bullshit amplified for dramatic effect. Draft Day is the same thing; aside from that, it works. Neither movie is a documentary, nor would a coloring-inside-the-lines approach be to the benefit of either. If you can get past that, I am recommending Draft Day. It met my mildly enthusiastic expectations.
I bring up the comparison to Moneyball because Draft Day owes a great deal to that earlier baseball movie. Without the financial and critical success of the former, the latter wouldn’t be playing in theaters; more importantly, both movies are character studies about the doubted general manager of a sports team strategically getting the upper-hand. It’s a fun arc to see play out in any case, especially when the disbelieved messiah is played by Kevin Costner.
Aside from Costner’s performance, only one other actor shines and that’s Jackie Robinson/Chadwick Boseman/James Brown (42, the upcoming Get On Up) who is appealing and gets a big emotional scene near the end of the movie that he nails. It’s a sweet moment of pure joy. The rest of the performances from the likes of Jennifer Garner, Denis Leary, Ellen Burstyn, Sean Combs and Tom Welling are functional but professional. One of my favorite actors, Pat Healy, is in one scene and has to play an idiot. That was disappointing because he’s such an interesting actor – see Cheap Thrills for some great Pat Healy. Rosanna Arquette is also in the movie for two minutes and looks prrrrowwwwlll, which is animal for boner. She doesn’t have much of a part to play is what I mean.
Draft Day is an entertaining trip to the movies. It’s not directed with much flair (by Ivan Reitman**, whose big move is blending split-screens together) nor is it always respectful of the audience’s intelligence, but it is the type of movie you will watch eight times when it is on cable in a few months. Like Moneyball, it will probably improve with familiarity.
*Note: There’s a line in the movie where Costner says (I’m paraphrasing) “You were eating your fucking pancakes” and it’s hilarious. It should have been the tagline on the poster.
**Draft Day is better than Reitman’s last few movies (No Strings Attached, My Super Ex-Girlfriend, Evolution) but not one of his best.