Continental Op’s Scouting Report: DRAFT DAY is a Bust

draft day 1

Special Thanks to Xiphos and Barfy.

I’m still laboring over my opus, a review/critical analysis of the 2013 remake of Carrie, but after seeing Draft Day I felt compelled to do a quick write-up.

Draft Day reminds me of something coach Jerry Glanville once said while he was a color commentator. While explaining which of the three gaps, “holes”, a running back was going to run through behind his offensive line, he said “You’ve got the A-hole, the B-hole and the C-hole, and he’s going to run it right up the A-hole.” Well, the makers of Draft Day decided to run it up the A-hole, repeatedly.

draft day 2Actually, that is not 100% true. Because if they did than at least it would create a visceral reaction in me, no matter how unpleasant it was. This film made me feel nothing, which is an even worse sin. It is the cinematic equivalent of the NFL pre-season – utterly pointless.

Draft Day is about Sonny Weaver, Jr. (Kevin Costner), the GM for the fictional Cleveland Browns (I say fictional because this movie pretends that the Browns are an actual NFL team), as we follow him for the 24 hours that lead up to, you guessed it, the NFL draft. The consensus number one pick is the Heisman Trophy winning QB from the University of Wisconsin, Bo Callahan, and Sonny has just been offered a trade by the Seattle Seahawks that’ll give his team that pick. But Sonny has his doubts about the Badger’s character, so he is considering drafting gung-ho linebacker Vontae Mack (played by Chadwick Boseman) or running back Arian Jennings (Arian Foster). Besides dealing with the stress and pressure of the draft, Sonny has to deal with his girlfriend’s (Jennifer Garner) unexpected pregnancy, the death of his father (the former coach for the Brown whom he fired), an overbearing mom (Ellen Burstyn), and conflict with new egotistical head coach (Dennis Leary).

draft day 3

The film is as slickly produced as a NFL pre-game show, and just as vapid. Sure the acting, the cinematography, editing, and production values are all first class, and the use of split screen is clever and an engaging method to link characters during telephone conversations (which there are many), but the film itself is prosaic. It is as deep as a rain puddle and lacks any sort of nuance, as everything is told to us instead of shown.

And ironically, for a film about a sport that is all about risk and toughness, it is completely safe and spineless. There are a number of important issues within the world of pro football – long-term players’ health, the effects of concussions and brain damage, owners holding cities hostage for new stadiums, the obscene amounts of money involved, our society’s unnatural obsession over sports, etc.  – but none of these are tackled in Draft Day. Instead we are treated to an ode to the heroic, brave NFL executive, as he learns a valuable lesson of following his gut and being true to his self, a theme much more suited for a Pixar movie than something aiming to be football’s answer to Moneyball. The film might acknowledge that the position a player is selected will effect his fortunes and his life significantly, but it doesn’t ever bother question how the players are treated as commodities, and instead has the temerity to suggest that the NFL (through GM’s like the one Costner is portraying) truly care about the character of these young men, and that in the end the draft will fairly sort them out, as if it was a form of karma. Even when it does explicitly mention something remotely “controversial”, like the original Browns moving the franchise to Baltimore, it frames it as a badge of honor for the people of Cleveland, instead of a greedy dick move by owner Art Modell.

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Fuck the players who risk injury. These are the real heroes.

I often complain about Marvel movies and other franchises, where the studios and producers are more concerned with protecting the brand name than they are in making a good movie. Well, Draft Day is even guiltier of this sin than any Marvel movies, which at least usually have the good sense to be entertaining. Here Reitman does just the bare minimum to keep the narrative going but nothing that could threaten to tarnish the NFL’s rep. The fact that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell shows up, playing himself, just confirms he has tacitly signed off on one long NFL commercial.

-Continental Op-

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55 responses to “Continental Op’s Scouting Report: DRAFT DAY is a Bust”

  1. Continentalop says :

    This review is as badly written as the screenplay for this movie.

  2. Judge Droid says :

    The fact that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell shows up, playing himself, just confirms he has tacitly signed off on one long NFL commercial.

    I didn’t need to even watch to the movie to know that. The simple fact that the film is allowed to use a real (fictional) NFL team means that the NFL has approved.

    I like sports movies, and I like Costner, but does this even contain any sport? It sounds like it’s just nonsense about behind the scenes wheeling and dealing. At least Jerry Maguire was smart enough to show some football!

    • Continentalop says :

      Very little sport action. Just a few clips from scouting tapes and such.

      It really is just a simplistic version of the WAR ROOM with the NFL as the backdrop & draw.

  3. tombando says :

    Yeah I get all that, and the trading round of Bo Callahan was typical contrived Hollywood blather, but liked it just the same. It was like a glossy campaign commercial for the great nfl, nothing more. Bernie Kosar cameo! Speaking of concussions…

    • Just Pillow Talk says :

      Bernie probably just wandered onto the set and they decided to film him.

    • Continentalop says :

      I’m not going to fault anyone who likes it because they’re getting something out of it I’m not. But to me, it was just pure fluff and a white wash.

  4. Just Pillow Talk says :

    The NFL is the last league that needs this shit commercial of a movie, since it’s untouchable.

    And you lost me with “Heisman trophy winning QB from the University of Wisconsin”.

    Wisconsin doesn’t know about the forward pass yet.

    • Continentalop says :

      Thank you. I was going to put that in my review originally. I think maybe two QBs from the Big Ten have ever won the Heisman, and none of them were from Wisonsin.

      The Big Ten is not known as a QB conference, and Wisconsin is definitely not known for their West Coast style offense.

      • Just Pillow Talk says :

        I’m sure Rutgers will change that perception!

      • Continentalop says :

        And with the addition of Rutgers the Big Ten reminds everyone how their math skills suck and how they need to use their fingers to count.

  5. Continentalop says :

    You know what this film reminds me of? It reminds me of, after the success of LOVE ACTUALLY, how they made shit like NEW YEAR’S EVE. This is the NYE to MONEYBALL’S LOVE ACTUALLY.

    • Continentalop says :

      Also, if they waited one more year and did this movie about Mike Sam and where (or if) he gets drafted, it would have been an infinitely better movie.

    • Xiphos0311 says :

      but Moneyball was good where as Love Actually was rancid fucking manipulative garbage.

      • Continentalop says :

        I like LOVE ACTUALLY. It is not great, and it is saccharine as hell I admit, but still, I enjoyed it.

        However, even if you don’t like LOVE ACTUALLY, you have to say it is way, way superior to NEW YEAR’S EVE or VALENTINE’S DAY or that kind of crap. Well, MONEYBALL is that much superior to DRAFT DAY as LA is to those movies, as a point of reference.

      • Judge Droid says :

        Love Actually is fine. It’s only held up as the whipping boy of manipulative shit because it’s about 10 RomComs condensed into 1. As far as manipulative shit goes, it’s one of the better ones (in the modern era).

      • Jarv says :

        Love, Actually is rancid shite of the worst order.

        I think it’s actually (heh) worse than NYE, as at least there’s some kind of connection between the stories in NYE and pfieffer’s section is sweet, clever and decent.

        However, I’m splitting hairs here as they’re both fucking terrible.

        Droid does have a point about it being loads of terrible ideas though.

      • Just Pillow Talk says :

        Moneyball was quite entertaining actually. Football just doesn’t translate well to film.

        I’ve only seen bits and pieces of Love Actually, so I can’t comment on it.

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        finally a decent level headed response to the shit sandwich that is Love Actually. I think that movies is why I hate Rick Grimes on TWD so much. It also made me look askance at the English for a bit.

      • Jarv says :

        On behalf of England, I wholeheartedly apologise for that cunt Curtis.

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        Apology accepted.

        Any news on the genetic replicant?

      • Jarv says :

        Not yet. Mrs. Jarv is late and grumpy with it.

      • Jarv says :

        I did watch Its Alive (remake) as preparation though.

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        good prep with that one.

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        The uterus is rent controlled so i can see hanging out a bit longer.

      • Jarv says :

        The NHS don’t put up with that. They’ll forcibly evict him in about 10 days or so

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        What? That’s BS it’s time for another gun powder treason.

      • Jarv says :

        Catholic revolution attempting to instill theocracy in the UK?

        No thanks. V for Vendetta has a lot to answer for.

        Actually, I wish someone would film a historically accurate version of the gunpowder plot, and include how most of the conspirators died when they blew themselves up trying to dry out powder in front of an open fire.

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        good luck on anybody making an historically accurate movie about anything,

      • Jarv says :

        It’s actually dangerous for him to go too late, so they induce him at about 10 days overdue.

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        Yeah from what I’ve seen the docs don’t like to go over 10 days late.

      • Jarv says :

        Placenta starts to die at about that time. Opens up a whole load of problems if it goes beyond that.

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        yep. I saw the outcome of that in a village in Columbia years ago. Our team medic had his hands full delivering babies the ville had like 9 or more pregnant women at the time all with a due dates within days of each other. A couple were already way late by the time we got there(road was gone from a massive mudslide and we didn’t want to fly’em out) I got drafted to help, made me sick for days, afterwards, never want to see another delivery as long as I live.

      • Jarv says :

        Ugh. Miracle of childbirth, eh.

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        it’s the stuff of nightmares especially in a “naturalistic” setting. I can’t for the life of me figure out why women wouldn’t take an epidural shot.

      • Jarv says :

        I actually know now- epidurals interfere with the ability to push and prolong labour

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        oh and dragging a kid out via C Section on a door in a crappily built house on the side of a mountain is way to alien chest ripper like for its own good.

      • tombando says :

        Aka Xiphos became Columbian Dispatch. Dang. Did you get hazard pay for it?

        Drew is actually a better reviewer now than he was in Harold days, plus he’s surprisingly ok on camera too. Looks like he mainlines the doritos a bit much though.

        Jarv hope the Jarvette shows soon.

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        nope nothing extra but nightmares Tom.

      • tombando says :

        Sounds pretty fun Xiphos. I have a career ob nurse aunt who goes to Uganda twice a yr to do that very same thing 10 day shifts…you couldn’t pay me enough. Which is best for all parties concerned.

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        It wasn’t fun Tom it was 7 days that i would like to forget ever happened.

  6. tombando says :

    Kept on wondering WHO exactly played Mom, then it hit me in the credits-duh it’s Exorcist lady. Ahhhhhhhhh. I liked Arian Foster’s 4 word ‘part’, was funny how Drew soft pedaled his ‘critique’ of it–‘I don’t know if Foster will further his acting career—‘. Yeah nice Drew. Anyways. So Bernie Kosar has a porn actress daughter? Does that mean Earnest Byner’s kid co-stars and fumbles at the 1?

  7. ThereWolf says :

    Nice one, Conti.

    I like Costner as well, but I’m ho-hum with sports movies generally. Oddly, if I do watch one I usually get something out of it. But this one doesn’t fill me with any kind of desire to see it.

    • Continentalop says :

      Hey Wolf.

      I love Costner as an actor (as a human being, he might be a POS for all I know, but hell of a screen presence) but he is one of those guys who appears in way too many movies where his talent is wasted. Like he is a beacon of charm in a sea of banality and boringness.

      Now I want to go rewatch NO WAY OUT to see Costner in a decent movie.

      • Judge Droid says :

        No Way Out is great. See also Open Range, Tin Cup, Durham, FoD. And I’m in a minority (of 1) but I like Waterworld.

      • Judge Droid says :

        Also Untouchables, thirteen days, A Perfect World. There’s plenty of good Costner to choose from.

      • Continentalop says :

        He’s done a bunch of good movies, but he’s also done a huge amount of shit, or if not shit completely banal films. Robin Hood, Revenge, The Bodyguard, Message in a Bottle, The Postman, Swing Vote, Wyatt Earp, etc.

        But in the 80s he did a lot of really good stuff (besides FoD , Bull Durham, NWO & Untouchables I’d add Fandago & Silverado).

      • Jarv says :

        And, of course, Sizzle Beach USA

  8. M. Blitz says :

    I could barely make it through the TV spots for this one. Change channel!

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