It's been a long while since director Ivan Reitman made a film memorable for something other than having been directed by Ivan Reitman. I couldn’t tell you what No Strings Attached was about to save my life. Sad as that sounds, his upcoming football drama Draft Day looks equally non-distinct, at least according to the debut trailer, which comes to us via Yahoo!. And there are entirely too many talented actors in this movie for it to look so goddamn generic.
I’m pretty sure screenwriters Scott Rothman and Rajiv Joseph (Nurse Jackie) were repeatedly watching Jerry Maguire and Any Given Sunday on two different TVs at the same time while writing the screenplay. I absolutely expected this film to be a comedy with dramatic elements; instead, it’s a full-on drama with the music and the aspirations to become an emotional adventure. I’m all for it actually reaching that level where I’m more excited than I get for an actual NFL Draft. (Hint: I don’t get that excited.)
Kevin Costner returns to sports movie form as Sonny Weaver Jr., the General Manager for the constantly failing Cleveland Browns whose job is under scrutiny from team owner Harvey Molina (Frank Langella). All Sonny has to do in order to keep his job is deliver a stunning set of draft picks that will help the team get a winning record and maybe even a championship. His coach, played by Denis Leary, wants to jump to a different team and his mother (Ellen Burstyn) is questioning his every move. He’s got a big room full of men working to help him, but Sonny has a mind of his own and he’s making decisions that no one wants to hear.
I wouldn’t mind this kind of a derivative plot in some other form of sports movie, because this is kind of ridiculous. For the most part, big named draft picks take time to earn their draft status, and, while I'm not an expert, I’m pretty sure draft picks don’t get coaches fired very often, if ever (The Browns in particular know a thing or two about draft busts, having already traded potential star running back Trent Richardson earlier this season). But I’ll suspend my detail-focused disbelief so long as the drama being delivered feels genuine, and there is some kind of a subtext that works outside of the war room and pertains to Sonny himself. Even though the trailer runs long, it seems like the only thing we see are people bitching to Sonny about things he’s either doing wrong or may do wrong. Ease up, people!
I’ll miss Al Pacino’s veiny performance from Any Given Sunday, but Costner rarely delivers a below average performance, regardless of the film’s quality. And maybe there’s a chance he flips out and we don’t get to see any of it in this preview. The star backed up by a stellar cast beyond the names I've already mentioned, including Terry Crews, Sam Elliott, David Ramsey, Tom Welling, Jennifer Garner, Chi McBride, Rosanna Arquette, Timothy Simons, Pat Healy, Chadwick Boseman, Patrick St. Esprit and more. Plus it’s got the actual NFL behind it, with actual draft footage and NFL players appearing in the film.
There’s a lot that could go right with this movie if it goes the whole nine yards, but there’s always room for disappointment. If we’re playing the "Judge a Film By Its Poster" game, then this movie will be duller than the XFL. Check it out in all of its Costnerish glory below and find the film crossing the goal line into theaters on April 11, 2014.