Friday, April 11, 2014

Draft Day [2014]

MPAA (PG-13)  CNS/USCCB ()  ChicagoTribune (2 1/2 Stars) (2 Stars)  AVClub (C+)  AARP (2 1/2 Stars)  Fr. Dennis (3 Stars)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB () review
ChicagoTribune (M. Phillips) review (B. Newcott) review (B. Tallerico) review
AVClub (I. Vishnevetsky) review

Draft Day [2014] (directed by Ivan Reitman, screenplay by Scott Rothman and Rajiv Joseph) is a "sports film" really "sports front office film" that a lot of middle-aged men are probably going to relate to. 

Sonny Weaver Jr (played by Kevin Costner) is the (fictionalized) GENERAL MANAGER of a PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL TEAM.  This would seem like the DREAM JOB for millions of "fantasy football" fanatics and other sports fans across the country and even across the world.  'CEPT (there's always a 'cept...) and here there are a whole bunch of 'cepts:

(1) He's the general manager of the Cleveland Browns, an NFL team that's been mediocre for decades,

(2) He's Sonny Weaver, JUNIOR, the son of the (fictionalized) LEGENDARY CLEVELAND BROWNS COACH, Sonny Weaver, SENIOR who as General Manager AT THE PLEADING OF HIS MOTHER (SENIOR'S WIFE) HE (JUNIOR) HAD TO "LET GO" the year before (because of a heart conditon).  It was probably a good call as dad died quietly at home only a few days before (presumably of a heart attack) but thankfully NOT before millions of viewers at an NFL Game.  YET MANY CLEVELAND SPORTS FANS ONLY REMEMBER THAT THIS "UNGRATEFUl, NOBODY SON" "FIRED" HIS OWN DAD THE SEASON BEFORE "FOR NO GOOD REASON..."

(3) The new coach Penn (played by Denis Leary) that he was given (presumably under pressure from the team's owner Anthony Molina (played by Frank Langella), who one gets the sense didn't particularly like Weaver, Sr EITHER, is a prima donna who was recently fired from Dallas (where he had won a Super Bowl... though with a team he had inherited rather than built-up himself).  But owner Molina seems to like Penn because "at least he makes a splash" something that the Venerable and VENERATED, "Old School, "X-s and O-s" Weaver, Senior hadn't done in years and owner Molina has his doubts that Weaver, Jr will ever do either.  Draft Day's coming up (the film's title) and Molina more-or-less makes it clear to Weaver, Jr that unless he "makes something happen", "makes a splash" that he'll be gone...

(4) Ma' (played by Ellen Burstyn), who after all convinced her son to fire her husband/his own dad (perhaps for dad's own good, but ...) continues to have a larger influence on Junior's life than perhaps she should... 

(5) In this pressure cooker, Weaver, Jr, divorced, adds _his own_ peccadillo by sleeping with one of his higher-ranked (but still...) subordinates, the team's lawyer (and responsible for keeping the team under its salary cap) Ali (played very nicely by Jennifer Gardner).  Near the beginning of the film, she informs him that she's/they're pregnant.  Now there is something genuine between them.  HE'd like to bring her out into the open (almost everybody knows that there's something between them anyway).  But this is an office romance.  Now ("Draft Day...") doesn't seem to be a good time.  BUT WHEN EXACTLY WILL IT EVER BE "a good time?"

So if you thought that your life was complicated ... ;-)

Okay, so it's "Draft Day" the day each year that the NFL teams go through the roster of eligible college athletes AND VERY PUBLICLY SELECT THEM TO THEIR TEAMS in the NFL. 

Cleveland's first round pick is #7.  The team has its sights on two players -- a linebacker Vontae Mack (played by Chadwick Boseman) who's a great player, will help build the defense "but won't make a splash," and Ray Jennings (played by Arian Foster) a running back from Florida State, who "plays with heart" whose dad played for Cleveland before, but who in recent weeks had gotten arrested for "assault and battery" in some sort of gang fight "back in the hood" back home. 

But then the Seattle Seahawks, who have the #1 pick, call with an offer that's hard to refuse, which would give Weaver/Cleveland the #1 pick and presumably a future star QB Bo Callahan (played by Josh Pence) from Wisconson.  But Cleveland already has a QB in Brian Drew (played by Tom Welling), who okay, hasn't necessarily performed to expectations (he's been injured) but Coach Penn likes him (and HATES ROOKIES...).  So what to do...?

And in fact, what would you do...?  And remember, in the pressure cooker of "Draft Day" ALL KINDS OF WHEELING AND DEALING, TRADES AND NEGOTIATIONS CAN TAKE PLACE ...

How can one "at the END OF THE DAY" end up FOR ONCE with "the team that one wants?"

Isn't that the question? ;-)

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