The girl behind the counter shrugged when I asked her if Draft Day was any good and told me that she didn’t know much about football. I can relate. Jay and Sean had to explain pretty much every play to me when we went to see the Ottawa Redblacks play last year. In fact, the joke I made at the video store was “The only thing I hate more than sports is sports in movies”. To which she replied incredulously “Then what are you renting this for?”.
I didn’t know what to tell her and still wouldn’t. I guess my thinking was that having this site is going to sometimes involve taking the time to check out movies that I would normally have given a pass.
Set almost entirely in the hours leading up to the impending NFL draft, Draft Day- as I was relieved to discover- barely has any football in it and assumes pretty much zero knowledge of the game or the NFL. Seattle is even introduced as “Home of the Seahawks”. Instead, the action takes places off the field as we get a behind the scenes look at the trades, negotiations, and strategizing as unpopular Cleveland Browns GM Sonny Weaver (Kevin Costner) tries to make a big enough splash to save his job.
Draft Day is a strange movie and I’m not sure who director Ivan Reitman (who I’m pleasantly surprised to see is still working) was hoping would embrace it. Instead of inspiring locker room speeches and risky plays we get contract negotiations and conference calls. Costner throwing a laptop across the room in frustration is really the most action we can hope for here. So there’s more Moneyball than Remember the Titans but even Moneyball found the time to show us some baseball.
Sadly, Aaron Sorkin, who co-wrote Moneyball, was not available to write Draft Day and, while the former was witty and suspenseful the latter is exposition-heavy and surprisingly predictable. So who is the target audience for a sports film that is too blandly written for film fans and too talky for sports fans? I’m starting to think it was written for me. The diligence it takes in explaining to the audience what just happened, while probably insultingly patron to most, provided me with the only real pleasure I got from the experience as I continually found myself patting myself on the back for keeping up with it.