By Darin Skaggs
Most films are made because some aspect of the plot is interesting. Some have semi-invincible men and women going around saving the world. Some films have two good looking people struggle to keep a relationship going. Sometimes there is an underdog rising to the occasion. Others are filled with metaphors and allegories of today’s world. Most films contain something that will keep the interest of someone watching. And then every once in a while a film comes along you have to wonder who this film is for. That film is Ivan Rietman’s Draft Day.
Draft Day is the story of Sonny Weaver, played by Kevin Costner, who is the general manager of the Cleveland Browns. Draft day is coming up and if Sonny doesn’t make any good picks he probably won’t have a job the next day. The whole film takes place over about thirteen hours before the draft starts. Throughout the film there are trades for picks and discussion about favorable players. If you are into sports most of the information and discussions that take place will be familiar to you. If you’re not, Godspeed. The film makes no effort to help you understand what is going on. And it is pretty confusing if you are not familiar with sports.
It might have been a better achievement if the film just totally committed to being moments that are taking place just before a draft, but it doesn’t. The film is aware that it won’t appeal to all viewers so it adds a ton of story lines for the “plus one” who are attending the movie. Sonny is faced with many troubles. In the first scene there is some drama about him and Ali, played by Jennifer Garner about her being pregnant. Throughout the film Sonny is deciding if he wants to be part of this relationship because, wait what’s this, Ali works for the Browns. He is also being constantly reminded about his father who recently passed away and we find out he had to fire him from the Browns a few months earlier. So for the thirteen hours we are with Sonny, we see him go through the basic of your life changing moments. There is also a low amount of comedy in the film. It is not that the jokes just keep falling flat, they do, but there are so few jokes in the film that when one does pop up it is almost startling.
This might be the most insecure film ever made. It is very aware of the lack luster-ness of its story. There is just a lot of discussing the same thing over and over. There are also many phone calls that sometimes go nowhere and occasionally head in a direction. Because of the total dryness of the plot the filmmakers decided to make all the phone calls interesting. They are all shown with split screens, which is fine. The problem though is that each and every split screen has one character overlap to the other character’s screen. There is absolutely no reason for this. A few time the screens just switch places to keep these painfully dull phone calls interesting.
Draft Day is an odd film. It wants so bad to be interesting that it tries every trick in the book, even good old melodrama. That attempt though is why it fails. It never focuses on one aspect of the film long enough to feel like a whole realized project.