Draft Day

  • Draft DayAs it is sloppily directed, lazily acted and melodramatically scripted, Draft Day fails.
  • The problems start with director Ivan Reitman who overuses a terrible split screen device that is not only distracting, but also artistically obvious. When Vontae Mack’s (Chadwick Boseman) shoulder goes past the border of his prescribed square, it shows how out-of-the-box he is, a good person who mostly wants to care for his family by playing football. When Sonny Weaver Jr’s (Kevin Costner) elbow encroaches into other GMs’ half of the screen, we see the same. We’re being told for whom to root.
  • But narrative obviousness is not the only issue with Reitman’s split screen. The other? The same technology could be seen in any 1970s movie.
  • Were the split screen Reitman’s only misstep, we might be able to forgive him. But, of course, it isn’t. He also overcasts the film with gimmicky cameos that detract from the storyline. Roger Goodell greeting the Browns fictional owner, Anthony Molina (Frank Langella); Ray Lewis discussing his long-ago draft status; Arian Foster (Ray Jennings) appearing as an important prospect; Sean Combs (Chris Crawford) serving as an agent; and so on.
  • Plus, Reitman tries to be overly mysterious in ways that grate the viewer’s patience, rather than heighten suspense. At one point, Ali (Jennifer Garner) finds a rumpled post-it note, at which she semi-frequently glances. The audience is never allowed to see it. When she gives it to Sonny, spurring him to act, the note still remains hidden. For nearly half the film, this piece of paper hangs around, always out of the audience’s view.
  • Finally, Reitman over-lights Garner, often encasing her in an almost-halo. In so doing, he once again uses filmmaking technique to tell us what to think.
  • The director is done no favors by writers Scott Rothman and Rajiv Joseph’s screenplay. The two under-develop every character and include far too many melodramatic distractions. Ali and Sonny are expecting a child, even though their relationship is supposedly secret. Sonny has just fired his father, who, it turns out, died thereafter. Vontae Mack’s sister has also recently died, leaving her two children in his care.
  • And it’s best not to think about Barb Weaver’s (Ellen Burstyn) utterly unbelievable purpose.
  • Then there are the actors. Garner and Costner are both coasting, relying on their status as movie stars, rather than acting. Equally troublingly, Burstyn and Denis Leary (Coach Penn) act as if they think the movie belongs to them, that they’re the focus.
  • Only Chadwick Boseman redeems himself by using subtle expressions to show his character’s softer side. But Boseman’s character is too minor for him to save Draft Day.
  • Of course, given its myriad flaws, no one could have.
  • Final Grade: F

30 thoughts on “Draft Day

  1. Didn’t completely hate, and I even enjoyed Costner here. But, this felt like a sort of cheap attempt to make some extra scratch for the NFL. Truth be told, I liked the drama of the draft and the look into the hectic role of a NFL GM but the romance and cliche situations put me off. Even so, some of what occurs (no videotape with 8 hours before your pick?) is hard to look past.

    Nice catch on the directorial style, which I caught but didn’t totally connect like you did. It really added nothing and took focus off the film to “wow, his elbow is totally in the guy’s sternum.”

  2. I won’t stand behind it and say it was perfect, but when it paid attention to the actual draft stuff itself, the movie actually worked well. Everything else was just filler and uninteresting filler at that. Good review.

  3. Ouch! Good review though. Nothing about this caught my attention though, and the reviews did not come back making me want to change my mind about seeing it. Seems that is the smarter choice right now.

  4. As the opening lines here didn’t exactly suggest a positive review was forthcoming, I went back to my write-up to see if you had left a comment, and indeed you had. And you were even saying you at the time weren’t particularly fond of the trailers, so this review is in line with your expectations, I’d say. It’s a shame you didn’t like it, I found the reenactment of the draft rather exciting, even if it relied on lots of cliched and generic filler material to carry it through to 90+ mins.

    I definitely found faults though. No denying that. so perhaps I’ll very respectably agree to disagree here. 🙂

    • The re-enactment of the draft itself was the best part. But the melodrama that went with it, and the fact that the Seahawks GM appeared to be two different characters, one person at the beginning of the movie and someone else at the end, rendered what worked far less than what didn’t.

      But you’re right. I thought the trailers looked dumb, and my experience with the flick was what I expected. Which could well mean I judged more subjectively than is appropriate.

  5. Nice breakdown of this film. I actually really enjoyed it as a piece of sports movie fluff. But I am biased since I really love Reitman, Costner and Sports films (especially Football related). I didn’t find the split screen distracting or gimmicky either. I just went with the flow and ended up liking the result. Must respectfully agree to disagree, here. But it ain’t no Moneyball for sure 😉

    • I have actually never seen Moneyball. I know i need to change that

      And I’m glad you enjoyed this one more than me. I didn’t find much at all redeeming about it, really.

      • Moneyball is a blast. I think you will really enjoy it. It could be sort of an antithesis to Draft Day for you. Hope you like it.

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