I heard other people pitching Draft Day as the NFL version of Moneyball. Certainly this movie is going for the same thing as Bennett Miller’s Oscar-nominated baseball film, to squeeze gripping drama out of the world of sports without a single scene taking place on the field. This football comedy is at a disadvantage, having neither Moneyball’s intellectual cred nor its star power. You know what, though? This movie is still better than Moneyball. Tell your friends.
The story follows embattled Cleveland Browns general manager Sonny Weaver Jr. (Kevin Costner) in an action-packed 13 hours leading up to the NFL draft. At the start of the day, he owns the seventh pick overall, but an early-morning trade offer places him in a dilemma. Does he select the loudmouthed but good-hearted, game-breaking linebacker (42’s Chadwick Boseman)? Does he address his team’s offensive woes and draft the soft-spoken running back (played by real-life NFL player Arian Foster) whose stock has slipped because of an assault charge? Or does he trade the team’s future for the No. 1 pick and take the can’t-miss Heisman-winning QB (Josh Pence), whom Sonny suspects might just miss? Everyone around Sonny tries to sway him, including his restless owner (Frank Langella), his conniving new head coach (Denis Leary), his injury-hit veteran quarterback (Tom Welling), and his own mother (Ellen Burstyn).
The movie is officially sanctioned by the NFL and makes extensive use of logos, stadiums, and footage of historic games, as well as featuring a bevy of cameos by broadcasters and former players. This is more essential than you might think if you’re not a sports fan. As the movie pings between front offices in Houston, Jacksonville, Buffalo, and Kansas City, the NFL trappings lend the proceedings weight and authenticity, even if they also lead to the unfortunate casting of the Seattle Seahawks as perennial losers and the Dallas Cowboys as perennial winners in this football reality.