I GUESS I was assigned to review this movie as sort of an experiment—will someone who is essentially indifferent to football enjoy what sounds like a super-boring movie about the NFL draft? Let's find out!
But Draft Day, it turns out, is more about feelings than football. It's no Friday Night Lights, but as sports entertainment goes it's broadly appealing and mercifully un-macho.
Kevin Costner plays Sonny Weaver, the general manager of the Cleveland Browns. The movie takes place on draft day (SPOILER!); after making a risky last-minute deal to secure the number-one pick, Sonny falls under intense pressure from the team's owner and fans, who've got their sights set on a hotshot young quarterback.
Draft Day isn't so much about Sonny's feelings (he's super gruff and doesn't appear to have them). It's really about the feelings of the young men who're waiting to get drafted, and of the team, as they watch to see how Sonny's draft-day decisions will affect the future of the franchise. Sonny and his colleagues run background checks on prospective players and endlessly obsess over strengths and perceived flaws; the stakes are high, but Sonny keeps his cards close to his chest, even as he deals with his pregnant girlfriend, pushy wife, and the legacy of his father, a beloved coach. (Draft Day gets major points for creating a well-rounded female character in Sonny's girlfriend; as played by Jennifer Garner, she's a reserved, football-loving numbers girl.)
Like Moneyball, Draft Day sidesteps the predictable sports narrative of winners and losers to unearth a story that's happening off the field. Unlike Moneyball, Draft Day is pretty silly and not particularly insightful. But it's goofy good fun, and as the clock ticks down to Sonny's draft-day decision, it's impossible not to get sucked into the suspense.