Top photo from upcoming movie, Draft Day in which Kevin Costner plays the General Manger of the Browns. At first glance, he looks eerily similar to former GM of the Browns, Dwight Clark featured in the bottom photo.
Being one to keep a watchful eye on all things movies and sports, I was somewhat jolted to see an upcoming movie about an actual NFL team's front office that I heard nothing about. My mind started racing with questions. Did the NFL actually for once opt to be featured in a movie? Who's in it? What's it about? Could this be actually good? Below is a messy play by play of my investigation into what in the world is Draft Day and most importantly, could it actually be good.
My first impression was that this could have some Van Huesen product placement going on in it. Nice threads man.
April 11th makes sense for a release date. Diehard football fans won't have much going on around then other than mentally preparing to begin rooting against the Heat and contemplating trying to give a shit about baseball or hockey. And most importantly, that's right about the time football fans will be most longing for the draft that takes place in early May before they drown in Kiper and McShay overload.
Jennifer Garner! Love her. She was great in Silver Lining Playbook and I am excited to see her in American Hustle. It's refreshing to see a young actress not doing a bunch of fluff. She's feisty and if I can say, VERY soft on the eyes. (Obviously I would soon learn I was confused here).
It's certainly odd to see the NFL draft logos and background behind Costner who is eyeing me like I stare down the rotating dessert case at my local Italian deli. I love how he's got football in his hand because it wasn't clear to me at all that his movie was about football.
The tagline "The Greatest Victories Don't Always Happen On The Field" is a little cheeky but it's also TOTALLY true.
First, the NFL is EVERYWHERE in this movie. Even movies that have been granted some level of usage of the NFL's marks have been somewhat muted in terms of how much those brands and logos were featured and those movies are few and far between. But Draft Day is different! It's like the league puked all over the film with aerial shots of 3-4 stadiums, clips of random plays and players, and even more intriguing – a lot of footage of the ESPN draft team being a prominent part of the movie. Gruden and Berman talking about fictitious draft scenarios? This may be enough to get my $10.50.
Jennifer Garner is not Jennifer Lawrence and that was a disappointment and an embarrassing one, perhaps signaling some wishful thinking on my behalf. As a female lead, Jennifer Garner is probably a middle of the road option similar to Phillip Rivers on a NFL quarterback scale. Little workplace romance going on? Sounds like Costner is going to have a tough time juggling professional responsibilities with his love life. Phil Jackson should have been a consultant on this bad boy.
The basic gist seems to be that Costner is going to follow his instincts rather than appeasing fans, media, and ownership and will also engage in some intense draft negotiations in hopes of rebuilding the crummy Browns. (Side note: sometimes fiction doesn't stray too far from reality.) He's a man of vision and principle and has a contrarian opinion about what the Browns should do and will stage somewhat of an unexpected mutiny on draft day. Sounds like they'll mix some of the successful elements of Trouble With The Curve and Moneyball to some degree.
What will unfold? My guess is that he'll piss off ownership, lose his job, get the girl, probably land on his feet with a panel role on FS1, but will ultimately be proven right when the revamped team goes 9-7 in back to back years and even ends up playing competitively in a pair of wild card game losses.
A key for me is the director as that's probably one of the best tell-tale signs of what to expect. Ivan Reitman was tapped for this project which makes it difficult to surmise much from. Reitman was pretty money back in the day with classics like Ghostbusters (1 and 2), Kindergarten Cop, Stripes, and Twins. But of late he's been more focused on producing and the films he has directed have been pretty lackluster (Evolution, My Super Ex-Girlfriend, No Strings Attached). Despite that I can't discount the director of numerous flicks that I adore from my formative years.
Here's a synopsis of the film:
“On the day of the NFL Draft, general manager Sonny Weaver (Costner) has the opportunity to save football in Cleveland 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.”
My best guess is that Weaver/Costner basically jacks a team for the top pick and then dumps it for more picks to the shock of everyone. Maybe a mix of the Chargers trading away their top pick to the Falcons and the famed Niners draft class of 1986.
Will This Movie Be Good?
Right now I would lean towards no. What was the last role Costner has been goon in as leading man? If this was a hot Hollywood project, would Costner be at the top of the list and would Reitman be tapped as director? My main concern (other than embracing the city of Cleveland as a protagonist) is the mixing of the love interest plot and the draft day drama. Football fans will prioritize authenticity and realistic dialogue and scenarios (in addition to good old acting) and if that element is cheapened by a cliche love story, then Draft Day could be a bomb with some NFL wrapping paper.
All that said I'm just a guy who wrote 1000 words based on a trailer and a poster and also was quite confident Street Fighter 2 was a lock for some Oscars. Regardless, Gruden and Berman in a movie may just get me to the theater but only for a matinee.