A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Draft Day is a drama about the behind-the-scenes negotiations that go into football's annual big recruitment day. Although the movie is all about football, hardly any scenes actually take place on the field, so it will primarily appeal to die-hard NFL fans who know or are curious about the inner workings (however fictional) about the draft process. The movie, which was originally rated R until the MPAA overturned its decision on appeal, features lots of strong language (particularly "s--t," "a--hole," and "bitch," but also "f--k" a time or two). There are some references to sex, some kisses, and a brief shot of a woman's back as she's showering at her boyfriend's house, but nothing too risque. If the language isn't an issue for you, and your teen can handle that this football movie takes place mostly in an office (with general managers on the phone!), Draft Day is fine sports drama.
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What's the story?
DRAFT DAY is a behind-the-scenes look at how the NFL's biggest day (besides the Super Bowl) works, from the perspective of Sonny Weaver Jr. (Kevin Costner). Weaver is the general manager of the Cleveland Browns, the team with the No. 7 draft pick that needs a great player to turn things around. He's got his eye on stellar defensive player Vontae Mack (Chadwick Boseman), but the team's owner (Frank Langella) forces Sonny to pick bankable, Heisman-winning QB Bo Callahan (Josh Pence) to fill the stadium with fans. So Sonny makes a trade with the Seattle Seahawks' GM for their No. 1 pick in exchange for three years of future first- and second-round picks. The swap angers the team's new head coach (Denis Leary), and, as the big moment approaches, Sonny realizes that he needs to decide whether to go with his gut or his job security.
Is it any good?
If you've never watched or paid attention to the NFL's annual Draft Day, it would be easy to dismiss this sports drama as likely to be uninteresting; but that's not the truth. Like Moneyball was to baseball, Draft Day is about how a team's general managers, coaches, and owners (not to mention the players) have competing interests that make their sport much more complicated than what the fans see on any given Sunday. Both football and non-football fans will be compelled by this fascinating (if predictable) look behind the curtain.
One of the best parts of the film is the way that Ali (Jennifer Garner), the team's finance officer, proves that she knows just as much about the sport as all the men around her. Boseman also gives a stand-out performance as Vontae, who has two young orphaned nephews to raise and can't really afford to be too low of a draft pick. His grounded, authentic charm and surprising honesty are the perfect counterpoints to Bo's Tom Brady-meets-Tim Tebow golden-boy polish. As for Costner, he might be aging, but he can still muster the intensity of sports office politics: a fraught phone call, an angry meeting, or an uncomfortably tense conversation.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Draft Day compares to other football-themed films. Were you surprised that little of the movie involved actually seeing any football? What are some of your favorite football movies?
What's the movie saying about the world of professional football? Compare and contrast the interests of the owners, general managers, coaches, and players. Whose interests have the game at heart, and whose interests are more about business?
The general managers take a lot of risks on draft day. What are some of the unknowns that can affect how well a player ends up doing in the NFL? Why is draft day such a high-stakes event?
- In theaters: April 11, 2014
- On DVD or streaming: September 2, 2014
- Cast: Kevin Costner, Jennifer Garner, Tom Welling
- Director: Ivan Reitman
- Studio: Summit Entertainment
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts
- Run time: 109 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: brief strong language and sexual references
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