Runtime 109 minutes.
Not for children.
If you think you know a lot about professional football you should enjoy this film. If you actually do know a lot about football (which puts you in a group of approximately .001% of the population, including all the talking chowderheads on TV), you will probably find this as annoying as I did.
The film is a thinly disguised almost 2 hour infomercial for the NFL, which fully supported it, allowing the producers to use real NFL team names, stadiums, and films. Included in the cast is NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Also included are a flood of former NFL players like Ray Lewis, an NFL icon despite his involvement in a brutal murder, Deion Sanders, Jon Gruden, even Jim Brown, all playing themselves.
Although it stars Kevin Costner, the cast does include some good actors, like Jennifer Garner, Denis Leary, Frank Langella, and one of my all-time favorites, Sam Elliot, making a rare, too short, appearance on the screen after years as a voice over artist for TV commercials.
Believe it or not, the NFL basically had final cut (last say on what went in the film). It viewed all the dailies and if there was something it didn’t like, it was ordered changed, and change it director Ivan Reitman did because the entire film was possible only through the sufferance of the NFL.
My guest, who follows games well and sees things most normal fans don’t, found it educational because she didn’t understand how the draft works and this movie does show that very clearly.
Costner is General Manager of the Cleveland Browns. The top draft pick is expected to be Bo Callahan (Josh Spence) a hot shot quarterback. Costner has to decide whether to trade up to get the first pick and grab Bo. Thrown in is a gratuitous love affair between Costner and Garner. She’s pregnant and they are not married, not a very good example for impressionable teens in this day and age of ever increasing numbers of babies born out of wedlock, many, if not most, to deadbeat dads, which is the main reason I say that this is not for children. In 1960 only 5% of babies were born out of wedlock. Today 40% of babies are born out of wedlock and major movies like this that paint unwed pregnancy by attractive movie stars as normal and acceptable, must share a large part of the blame. There is no conceivable reason why Garner had to be made pregnant except to thumb the filmmakers’ collective noses at people who recognize the serious problems caused by unwed pregnancies.
Consistent with this flippant attitude towards family values, also in the cast playing an agent is Sean Combs, who in real life is the father of five children by various women without ever having walked down the aisle with anyone.
I guess that neither the NFL nor Reitman cared much about accuracy because the film takes place on the first day of the draft, yet there are scenes of players on practice fields and in locker rooms. The first day of the NFL draft is the first part of May. There are no NFL teams practicing in May. College spring practice is over by the end of April. Elliott plays a college coach and he’s shown on the practice field of his college with players all around. So why are there shots on the practice field? These scenes lack verisimilitude and detract from the film for anybody with a modicum of knowledge about football.
Although except for the rangeless Costner the acting is very good by the aforementioned actors, I thought the plot and outcome were painfully obvious from the outset, so it held little tension for me. Worse, the denouement is so inconsistent with the basis of the film set forth at the outset that it is ludicrous.
That said, it’s still a mildly enjoyable film even if it is a frivolous, frothy flight of fancy.