DRAFT DAY – Review by Susan Granger

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Each May, National Football League general managers wheel-and-deal, trying to sign the best college players. So, when Sonny Weaver Jr. (Kevin Costner) of the Cleveland Browns gets a call from the Seattle Seahawks, offering to trade their star quarterback, he must decide whether he’s willing to sacrifice his first, and perhaps only, chance to build his own dream team, for what looks like a ‘sure thing.’ Read on…

Sonny’s in a bind. His fabled coach father died the week before, and his spunky girl-friend Ali (Jennifer Garner), the team’s salary-cap manager, just informed him that she’s pregnant. Sonny really wants linebacker Vonte Mack (Chadwick Boseman), who will serve the team in the long run. Besides, the Browns already have a strong quarterback (Tom Welling), now fully recovered from the knee injury that sidelined him much of last season. On the other hand, the head coach (Denis Leary) desperately wants running back Ray Jennings (Arian Foster), whose father (NFL vet Terry Crews) was also a Brown. And the team’s owner (Frank Langella), tells him his job’s on the line unless he picks a winner.

Written by Rejiv Joseph and Scott Rothman and directed by Ivan Reitman (Ghostbusters, “Stripes, Kindergarten Cop), this sports dramedy is, basically, about having the courage of your convictions – with split-screens effectively heightening the tension. The pressure takes place behind closed doors in the executive offices, as opposed to the playing field, while statisticians observe that sometimes first-round picks turns out to be duds, while a sixth-rounder, like New England’s Tom Brady, excels.

Kevin Costner (Bull Durham, Field of Dreams) is solid, as are Garner and Leary, with Ellen Burstyn as embattled Sonny’s outspoken mother and Sean Combs as a slick agent. Cameos include real-life Browns, past and present, including legendary Jim Brown, plus sports figures Chris Berman, Mel Kiper, Jon Gruden, Ray Lewis, Deion Sanders and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, Draft Day scores a shrewdly suspenseful 6. Not as good as Jerry Maguire or Moneyball, but football fanatics will undoubtedly enjoy it.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.