Sports movies come in all forms. Underdog stories, sometimes based on real life, are the gold standard. Movies like Hoosiers, Rocky and Miracle first jump to my mind. A great sports movie requires a real portrayal of the sports we love and the stories we know, which as it turns out, is not so easy. That's why the great sports movies are few and the trite are many. And while I do have an affinity for the "so-bad-it's-good" genre (Summer Catch, Mighty Ducks, etc.), the sports movie rankings should be limited to the true greats.
So let's talk about Draft Day. I was lucky enough to catch an advance screening of the football flick at Regal Fenway last week (It hits theatres en masse this Friday).
As with many, it's an underdog story, but with a unique approach. The success solely determined off the field on one off-season day. It's a microcosm of NFL-mania that has gripped the American sports landscape. From February to September, free-agency to draft day to training camp, measured success is one giant gray area for football teams. It's about putting together a team that just might be great.
Kevin Costner plays Sonny Weaver Jr., general manager of the Cleveland Browns. If you can believe it, the Browns have a top 10 pick in the upcoming draft. Denis Leary is the newly hired coach who, like our old friend Bill Parcells, wants to shop for some of the groceries. Jennifer Garner plays the salary cap expert who is no doubt there to provide a little eye candy for the guys and a touch of romance for the girls.
From a realistic perspective, hardcore NFL fans like myself will feel left wanting more. I was hoping for some more nitty-gritty as far as how deals get done and the process leading up to the big day in New York. I guess I shouldn't be surprised. The NFL had final say and doesn't really like to let fans see how the sausage is made often times.
Instead, it's a dumbed-down, bizarro NFL world, where you have to fight your existing knowledge to figure out the movie's NFL landscape (the Seahawks have the 1st overall pick and need a franchise QB).
Is it watchable? Sure, who couldn't use a little football this time of year. My wife found it perfectly pleasant, and actually learned something as far as how deals happen on draft day. It walked non-NFL fans through the teams, the war room, the reasons why it's become a major event.
I, on the other hand, wrestled with the fact that the Chiefs were looking for a veteran QB (you already have Alex Smith!), and that Arian Foster was playing Ray Jennings, a Florida State running back who was dealing with bad press for an off the-field-incident.
For an NFL novice hungry to learn more about the business side of football, it's a go. For hardcore football fans? Depends on how much you like Kevin Costner. Grade: C