Opens Fri., April 11 at Sundance and other theaters. Rated PG-13. 110 minutes.
Kevin Costner came late to the Hollywood party, minting his stardom in his 30s with hits like The Bodyguard and his Dances With Wolves. By 40 and Waterworld, audiences grew tired of his earnest, humorless heroism. Now pushing 60, despite nice character work in The Upside of Anger and Man of Steel, he still clings to the same square, virtuous leading-man template that isn’t really interesting anymore. His NFL team manager, Sonny Weaver of the Cleveland Browns, keeps insisting “Let me do my job,” as if mere competence—and listening to his gut, of course—were all it took to succeed in today’s marketplace (be it football, finance, or flipping burgers). The gimmick here, and it’s a good one, is the ticking clock, a finite period of time in which NFL teams can draft or trade top college prospects, now a fairly data-driven process. Yet Sonny resists the usual metrics, which annoys his coach (Denis Leary) and the team owner (Frank Langella), and confounds his secret girlfriend (Jennifer Garner), also on the Browns staff, and conveniently pregnant. Slickly directed by the veteran Ivan Reitman, this is a very NFL-authorized product, and it duly celebrates the league and its loyal fans. (Our Seahawks figure in the plot, thus some lovely stock footage of Seattle.) Here is the glory of the gridiron, without the eccentric underside celebrated in Costner’s best sports movies—Tin Cup and Bull Durham (both created by Ron Shelton). Even if Sonny isn’t a numbers guy, Draft Day simply plays the percentages.