Today, the NFL will throw its first big event of the season, draft day. This isn’t a sports website so I won’t go into the details on how it all works, other than to say that this is the day that the top rated college football players get drafted into the big leagues. If you want to know more, you can read about it here, but for me, what today means is that I can talk about one of my favourite movies: Draft Day.

Draft Day is an Ivan Reitman film, starring Kevin Costner as the fictional general manager of the Cleveland Browns, as he tries to get through the first day of the NFL draft. The entire film is set in that one day, and follows him as he wheels, deals, and outmanoeuvres his fellow GMs to get the best draft picks for his team. All while the clock ticks down.

Now, you may be saying to yourself that you don’t care about American football, and I get that. But if you like fast paced, well scripted, tightly written films, with fantastic actors – and who doesn’t? – then you owe it to yourself to give this a chance. 

I’m also here to tell you that Draft Day isn’t really about football. It’s about a son trying to compete with the legend of his late father, outrun an entire city’s expectations, not disappoint his mother, hold on to his not-so-secret lover, and all while trying to build a winning team. All in one day. 

Kevin Costner is perfect in the role of Sonny Weaver Jr, the GM of the Cleveland Browns football team. No one does exasperated like Kevin Costner. His old world weariness, the beaten-but-not-out look on his face, the frustration he brings to the character, is just perfect. The film is also just absolutely stacked with acting talent, from Jennifer Garner playing the team’s finance manager and his not-so-secret lover, Denis Leary as the coach, owner Frank Langella, players Tom Welling and Chadwick Boseman, and former player turned parent Terry Crews. That lineup in itself should make this your next watch.

The script does a wonderful job of giving each actor enough dialogue, drama, backstory, and moments, without ever taking away from the central idea of the film: that Kevin Costner has a job to do. Other than Jennifer Garner, the rest of the actors are supporting characters in this story, but their roles aren’t diminished as a joke or a caricature. Even Sean “P.Diddy” Combs, as a high-flying high-powered sports agent isn’t just a talking walk on role. 

Draft Day made almost no money when it was released in 2014. I have no answer as to why that is. Maybe because it isn’t football enough for football fans, and non-football fans avoided it because they thought it was about football. Some reviewers looked at the NFL’s cooperation with the making of Draft Day with cynical eyes. They griped that the movie doesn’t address the NFL elephants in the room of player issues, both on and off the field. That the blue-eyed Kevin Costner is just papering over the cracks and pulling a fast one to make everyone forget the real world problems facing the sport. 

But that’s not the point of this movie. That was the point behind 2015’s Concussion with Will Smith. And while I don’t think that one excuses the other, it doesn’t in any way change how I feel about this movie. Draft Day is a fantastic movie that is fast paced, well written, and very entertaining. And with it streaming on Netflix, what have you got to lose? Hell, I think I’m gonna go put it back on and rewatch it a second time today.

Draft Day is now streaming on Netflix.

If you’re looking for a sports TV series that isn’t about sports, Bahir also wrote about HBO’s Ballers. He also reviewed the Netflix true crime series about former NFL player Aaron Johnson here.

Draft Day
Director: Ivan Reitman
Writers: Rajiv Joseph and Scott Rothman
Cast: Kevin Costner, Jennifer Garner, Denis Leary, Frank Langella, Sam Elliot, Ellen Burstyn, Chadwick Boseman, Tom Welling, Rosanna Arquette, Terry Crews, Arian Foster, Patrick St. Esprit, Chi McBride, Sean Combs, and Timothy Simons

Bahir likes to review movies because he can watch them at special screenings and not have to interact with large groups of people who may not agree with his idea of what a movie going experience is. Bahir likes jazz, documentaries, Ken Burns, and summer blockbuster movies. He really hopes that the HBO MAX Green Lantern series will help the character be cool again. Also don’t get him started on Jason Momoa’s Aquaman (#NotMyArthurCurry).

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