First Hit: Overall, it was enjoyable, partially predictable and at times surprisingly unpredictable.
The world of drafting sports players onto professional teams has become big business. Television rights, high-level news reporting and “fantasy leagues” all contribute to the business side of televising this event. Although I’m aware of the draft days (mostly for football and basketball), I do not care enough to watch these events because it just isn’t that important or interesting to me.
What interested me about this film was hoping to see how deals were made before the choices are announced on television. I also thought that Kevin Costner, playing Cleveland Brown’s General Manager Sonny Weaver Jr., would be good at playing this sort of character. He did and so did Dennis Leary as Coach Penn. They both played great antagonist, power control issue roles.
The story begins with 24 hours on the clock before teams, in their draft order, have 10 minutes name the player they want to sign to their teams. There is always heavy competition by the players to be picked high up in the draft because that guarantees’ them more money. Weaver begins the final day receiving phone calls from players who want him to draft them and also from the team’s owner Anthony Molina (Frank Langella) who wants his GM to “make a splash”.
The pressure is building because Coach Penn wants specific people drafted. Then the calls from other GM’s wanting to trade people and draft choices begin to come in. To add a more human aspect of Weaver’s life, he has a relationship with Ali (Jennifer Garner) the team’s financial guru. She had told Weaver the night before that she is pregnant with his baby and supposedly their relationship is hidden from the staff. But it is the final moments of when the league commissioner begins to announce the choices and how the dealing of people quickens.
Costner is smooth, intelligent and believable in this role. He was very strong as the general manager. Leary was perfect as the strong ego centric coach that wants to prove himself with the right players. Langella was sublime as the team’s owner – he carried this role perfectly. Garner is plenty smart and good in this role and I guess there was more of her character in the film. Griffin Newman as Rick the intern was specifically fun to watch and he did the intern role very well. Scott Rothman and Rajiv Joseph wrote a credible screen play. Ivan Reitman directed this with a good view of the way a draft day could play out.
Overall: I people knowledgeable of the draft process would appreciate the way it is done here because it is educational.