Thursday, April 10, 2014

Kevin Costner Makes The Best Deal In 'Draft Day'

By Darlene Donloe

Kevin Costner is becoming quite proficient in sports related films, including his latest, Draft Day, set for a nationwide release April 11.

The combination of Costner and sports is a proven cinematic victory. Bull Durham, Field of Dreams, Tin Cup and For Love of the Game confirm it.

Draft Day, a savvy film, continues his winning streak.

On the day of the NFL Draft, general manager Sonny Weaver (Costner) has the opportunity to rebuild his team when he trades for the number one pick. He must quickly decide what he's willing to sacrifice in pursuit of perfection as the lines between his personal and professional life become blurred on a life-changing day for a few hundred young men with dreams of playing in the NFL.

Weaver has a hard decision to make. Does he go with the obvious pick or does he stand his ground and pick who he really thinks will help him build his team and bring a championship to the city of Cleveland?

On the personal side he has a secret relationship with one of his executives, who has some life-changing information that could throw him into a tailspin. Add to that he has to live up to the reputation and legacy left by his father who was the beloved former coach of the Cleveland Browns. Plus, he has to take the wrath of a city who can’t forgive him for firing his own father. 

Talk about having a lot on his plate on Draft Day.

When the movie opens, the No. 1 prospect is Bo Callahan (Josh Pence), a Heisman-winning quarterback. If Weaver wants him, he’s going to have to perform a little razzle dazzle.  The Browns are slated to pick seventh in the first round, so if they want Callahan, the Seattle Seahawks, who have the No. 1 pick will let the Browns have it in exchange for the Browns’ next three years’ worth of first-round picks.

While his head says Callahan should be his first choice, in actuality, Weaver wants Vontae Mack (Chadwick Boseman) and Ray Jennings (Arian Foster), whose father (real-life NFL vet Terry Crews) was also a Brown back in the day. 

What to do?! What to do?!

What makes Draft Day an A+ movie is the authenticity and intensity it brings. The audience gets to see the inner workings of pro-football and the cutthroat negotiations that happen behind the scenes in the strategy rooms.  Part of the realism and intensity comes from the countdown clock inserted at the beginning of the film that shows it’s a mere 13 hours before the draft.

Costner delivers a steady, capable and believable performance as an NFL executive.  He is fantastic. His repartee with Denis Leary, who plays the coach of the team rings authentic.  Chadwick Boseman builds upon his reputation as an acting contender – turning in a stirring performance. Jennifer Garner, Frank Langella and Ellen Burstyn have impressive turns.

Draft Day opens April 11, the same weekend as Captain America: The Winter Soldier and opposite the family film, Rio 2.  It should still bring in decent numbers.

Draft Day, directed by Ivan Reitman, stars Kevin Costner, Jennifer Garner, Denis Leary, Frank Langella, Sam Elliott, Sean Combs, Terry Crews, Ellen Burstyn, Chadwick Boseman, Rosanna Arquette, W. Earl Brown, Kevin Dunn, Arian Foster, Brad William Henke, Chi McBride, Griffin Newman, Josh Pence, David Ramsey, Patrick St. Esprit, Timothy Simmons, Tom Welling, Wade Williams.

A Lionsgate release of a Summit Entertainment presentation in association with OddLot Entertainment of a Montecito Picture Co./OddLot Entertainment Production. Produced by Ivan Reitman, Ali Bell, Joe Medjuck. Executive producers, Tom Pollock, Michael Beugg, Gigi Pritzker, William Lischak, Michael Nathanson.

On the DONLOE SCALE: D (don't bother), O (Oh, no!), N (needs work), L (likeable), O (OK) and E (excellent), Draft Day gets an E (excellent).

Running time: 109 minutes; Rated PG-13 for brief strong language and sexual references.

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