“Draft Day” seems like the NFL’s response to “Moneyball.” Football fans are going to love this behind-the-scenes look at the draft as it explores drafting strategy and front office politics. It does not have any football action but is riveting as personalities collide over the first overall draft pick. The story is strong in its inclusion of several different NFL teams, broadcasters, and the theme that teams are selecting a three-dimensional person and not just a name on a sheet of paper. It feels like the inclusion of a love story and family drama was partially geared toward bringing in a non-football audience, but I can’t see that crowd enjoying the film. Fortunately for the filmmakers, football has a huge following in this country so the film will appeal to the majority of theatergoers. While the love story may seem unnecessary at points, I think that it is critical in developing the depth of Sonny Weaver. His humanity keeps him from being a business-class robot and emphasizes the difficulty of his decisions. Kevin Costner is incredible in this role, developing chemistry with every other actor as their characters clash in emotional exchanges. Denis Leary was the perfect selection for the football coach in looks, voice, and attitude. Frank Langella made more of his role as the owner than most actors could have, Jennifer Garner is cute and spunky as always, and each of the draft nominees cleverly fit a stereotype so that they represented a type of player instead of an actual person. Chadwick Boseman steals the spotlight again and is on his way to being the next big thing. I cannot find fault in the storyline, script, or casting. It is amazing that this type of story can have so many unexpected twists. The split screen style supports the plot and avoids being overused. “Draft Day” is simply a great film as it blurs the line between fictional characters and the real NFL to the point that you will question whether this is a movie or a documentary.
[Pictured: Split screen style with Costner and Boseman]