By Coach Ryan,
If you follow anything I’ve written for the past couple years then it will come as no surprise that I’m a Cleveland fan who tends to get especially fired up for the Browns and Indians. Unfortunately, as far as the Browns go there hasn’t been a whole lot to be excited about in the past 20 years or so, which is probably the biggest reason Browns fans have been anxiously awaiting the release of ‘Draft Day.’ As far as movie history is concerned, Cleveland hasn’t exactly been Hollywood east and with the exception of ‘Major League’ tends to get left out of the spotlight. Kind of like most other things in northeastern Ohio.
Lately Cleveland has played the backdrop for some blockbusters such as ‘The Avengers’ and ‘Captain America: Winter Soldier’ but the last time a good movie revolved around Cleveland, it was ‘Major League.’ I’m not going to say that anyone thought ‘Draft Day’ would be anything close to seeing Perdo Cerrano pray to Jobu, but a movie about the Browns? OK, you have our attention.
‘Draft Day’ isn’t by any means an award winner. If anything, it is a predictable formula that involves impossible trades, over the top situations, and draft prospects who are easily identified as busts or sure things. It almost has a ‘Moneyball’ feel that lacks real football logic or realism, but it’s a good enough story that will keep football fans entertained, especially Cleveland fans.
Ironically enough the movie seems eerily familiar to the spot the Browns are currently in at this exact moment. They have the 7th pick in the draft, a quarterback named Brian Drew who showed amazing potential until he hurt his knee (Brian Hoyer anyone), and an owner who wants his GM to make a splash in the draft. Cleveland fans will get a kick out of the radio spots done by local talents Tony Rizzo and Aaron Goldhammer criticizing the Browns GM, and the bad decisions that seem to follow whoever is GM in Cleveland.
Kevin Costner is, well Kevin Costner, which isn’t a bad thing. For some reason he always seems to work in the sports genre as is the case here, even if his character Sonny Weaver Jr. seems to be as clueless as Butch Davis when it comes to the draft. Weaver is cast with the always “realistic” Cleveland Browns expectations of turning a bad team around in two years or face the consequences of finding a new job. There’s questions at quarterback, no running back, and a defense that lacks a leader. Sound familiar Cleveland?
Not only does Weaver have less than 12 hours to the draft he seems completely unprepared for, but he also has to deal with a relationship having baby issues with coworker Jennifer Garner, a pissed off Head Coach in Dennis Leary, an owner who wants results in Anthony Molina, and of course the pressure of Browns fans everywhere. One thing ‘Draft Day’ does get is how Browns fans view the draft, as their Super Bowl with the faith of a monster fan base watching with their breath being held.
Ivan Reitman was able to capture some great panoramic shots of different football stadiums across the NFL, with beautiful views of the Cleveland sky line. He got good performances out of the actors although I do feel he dropped the ball with the actual football scenes, of which there aren’t many. One scene in particular involving an Ohio State linebacker seems staged, low budget, and out of place. Kind of strange considering the money they had to spend to get NFL licensing as well as cameos from Roger Goodell to Jon Gruden to a few Cleveland legends. That being said he is able to keep a two hour movie mostly spent in an office with NFL GMs on the phone entertaining, and did a good job capturing the feel of the Browns.
Spoiler Alert: One of my favorite moments of the film involves a player who’s lifelong dream is to play for the Browns getting that phone call. It’s a moment that rarely happens in the NFL, but is one that NFL fans love to see. Unlike some of the trades in the movie that feel forced this scene which surprisingly enough stars Arian Foster as the prospect and former NFL linebacker Terry Crews playing his father, a former Browns legend, felt real. To me it seemed to capture the way NFL fans all picture the way a player drafted to their team should feel on draft day, proud to be a member of ______.
In the end ‘Draft Day’ doesn’t try to be anything more than what it is, a movie about the NFL Draft. If you’re a football fan you’ll enjoy it where as if you’re a film critic looking for a complex story line and deep emotions, I’d stay away. It’s 109 minutes about the Browns trying not to mess up the Draft and it does a good job of that in that time. If you’re a fan who spends over 5 hours on a Thursday watching the first round of the Draft you owe it to yourself to see the movie. If you’re a Browns fan, it’s a must see as you may walk away actually feeling good about wearing the orange and brown. You may even find yourself feeling optimistic about the current state of the team, which is well worth $15 in a ticket and popcorn.
Now only if Ray Farmer can put a winner together next month.