Apr 16,2014

Draft Day falls down the board

I live in Los Angeles. I work in the entertainment industry. I rarely go to the theater to see a movie. (When I do, I go to the Arclight… because, like I said, I live in Los Angeles and work in the entertainment industry. But that’s beside the point.)

In fact, the last time I went to the movies was nearly a year ago. I was 9 months pregnant and hoping the hotness that is Channing Tatum in WHITE HOUSE DOWN would kick start my labor. It didn’t. Probably because CT’s undershirt was seemingly less destructible than the Oval Office. But, again, I digress.

This past Friday, after two rescheduled work events, I found myself miraculously free. In less time than it takes Aldon Smith to get arrested I had purchased a ticket to the 3pm showing of DRAFT DAY. That’s right, GRAVITY in 3-D be damned, THIS was a movie I was going to see on the big screen!

While there weren’t any incredible action sequences or jaw dropping special effects, this flick was breaking new ground. After years of turning down Hollywood collabos, the NFL finally bit on a script written by Rajiv Joseph and Scott Rothman. The attachment of legendary director/producer Ivan Reitman along with the promise of far too many notes calls was enough for the execs in Midtown to play ball.

The film begins twelve hours before the 2014 draft and follows Sonny Weaver Junior (played by sports flick icon Kevin Costner) as he attempts to rebuild the Cleveland Browns. Will he select the stud QB, the gritty linebacker, or the well connected running back? Will he stick to his guns or let the business of the game dictate his picks? How many times will he shuttle his much younger and not-so-secret girlfriend/soon-to-be baby mama into a supply closet so that he can “check in” and ask her if he’s making the right decision? You won’t get any spoilers here (but I will tell you that the answer to the last question is, once again, “far too many”).

While having access to the NFL – their stadiums, logos, etc. – is very cool, it ultimately prevents the film from evolving into anything more than 110 minutes of set dressing. In short, DRAFT DAY is a great piece of propaganda for the NFL. That said, as an ardent fan I got a kick out of seeing league mainstays like Ray Lewis, Deion Sanders, and Chris Berman sprinkled throughout the film. I even enjoyed the completely predictable and fairly canned ending. But the flick’s inauthenticity is palpable. There’s no better example of this than when Commissioner Goodell takes the stage to open the draft and is met with only cheers and nary a boo. I mean, come on Roger, hating you is one of the best things about being a football fan.

With more than four months left to go before the regular season kicks off, I was happy to spend $13.50 in exchange for an amuse-bouche prior to this fall’s main course. I’m pretty confident that most other pigskin aficionados would agree. The rest of the movie going audience, on the other hand, might not be as forgiving.

That sentiment seems to be reflected in the film’s opening numbers. In it’s first weekend, DRAFT DAY made $9.8 million at the box office. While the movie’s budget was only $20 million, opening to under $10 million feels more like a field goal than a touchdown. Of course competing against the Captain America sequel probably didn’t help, but given the critics’ lukewarm response to the film, I doubt it’ll catch fire over the next few weeks.

Bottom line: if you have a free afternoon and twenty bucks, go ahead and indulge in some popcorn. Costner and the rest of the cast put on a pretty good show. Definitely better than TO in Buffalo. Plus, it’s fun to see the Browns (almost) win.