Ivan Reitman's enjoyable comedy takes place over 12 hours during one of America's more recently minted sporting "events": the annual NFL college draft. Sonny Weaver (Kevin Costner) is the new general manager of the struggling Cleveland Browns, and he's under pressure to pick the right prospect — a hot young QB? The son of a legacy player? A brash up-and-comer? Squawking in both his ears are the team owner (Frank Langella) and head coach (Dennis Leary). Then, there are the other teams' GMs, eager to make deals. And Weaver's one source of calm, the team's number-cruncher (Jennifer Garner), just told him they're having an unexpected baby.
Draft Day isn't about football per se, but the backroom deals — the feinting, the on-the-fly adjusting, the rapid calculations that could make or break a team for a decade. These folks are scrambling over football players, but it could be any other high-pressure deal-making. Thus, the film resembles Moneyball more than any Sunday game, and its low-key pleasures lie in watching Costner and a raft of character actors verbally spar. It's openly manipulative, crafting Weaver as the flawed but decent underdog we want to root for. (This might be the only time you hear a Pittsburgh audience cheer openly for the Cleveland Browns.) The eventual outcome isn't much of a surprise, but the film takes a twisty road that's quite fun to travel.