The Jacksonville Jaguars are attempting to engage fans year round and provide ticket value to their season ticket holders. This year they have started a program called Jags365 which promises to have year round engagement with their season ticket holders. Last night was the first of those events this year with the Jacksonville Premiere of Draft Day staring Kevin Costner and Jennifer Garner.
The event was invite only to select Jaguars season ticket holders, luxury suite owners, champions club and other VIPs. The audience incuded members of the local press and several current and former Jacksonville Jaguar players including 9 year Jagaurs safedy Donovin Darius. Prior to the start of the film Darius gave a very emotional speech about his experiences on draft day in 1995 and his thoughts after getting the call from coach Tom Coughlin telling him the team was selecting him with the 25th overall pick. The story ends and a loud cheer from the audience breaks out and the movie begins.
Draft Day is obviously a loving showcase of the process of the NFL Draft. It plays into our fascination with the inner workings of football. The high tension, fast paced phone calls from coast to coast as deals are made. Each team trying to gain the advantage of the other. There is the human emotion of the effects of those deals on the executives who make them and the players that are the commodity that is being traded.
Kevin Costner plays Sonny Weaver, a beleaguered General Manager for the Cleveland Browns. In the story the Browns are struggling to make their team relevant. They are reeling from the death of a popular coach and coming off an injury plagued losing season. Sonny is drafting early in the first round but not early enough to get the top rated quarterback prospect to come into the draft in years. A player who could change everything. Weaver is also dealing with life altering personal changes as well with his girlfriend and co-worker Ali who is portrayed by Jennifer Garner. Sonny gets a chance to make the trade of a lifetime to get the player every team in the NFL wants but the cost of doing so could have long lasting effects. This sets up the dramatic conflict: will he mortgage the future and end up with a superstar or a bust or will he play it safe?
Costner’s performance is very good. He plays the character as a guy who just wants to prove to himself that he has the right stuff to excel at his job. He doesn’t know what the right choices are and is trying to do the best he can. The film is very light and comedic but there are several powerful scenes leading up to the Draft Day war room drama that serves as the climax of the film. Jennifer Garner’s character isn’t as well defined but she handles it well, making her character a confident woman dealing with a job where she is frequently the only person not acting like a frat boy.
The movie uses frequent split screens to quickly show conversations from the various cities in the story (Seattle, Buffalo, Jacksonville, Phoenixm, Houston). In a very cool special effect the characters sometimes overlap the split screen in an almost 3D effect. In one of the opening sequences Costner’s character walks through the Cleveland offices while the head coach, played by Dennis Leary, tells a story in the war room, the split screen passes in front of Leary as if the character walks in front of him. The effect is momentarily jarring but ultimately effective and humorous instead of distracting.
The ending of course sets things right as they should be but I didn’t predict the method in which Sonny would pull of his draft day triumph. The script was well written mixing the right amount of humor into the drama, and the direction was up to Ivan Reitman’s usual standards. All in all it was a very enjoyable movie. It isn’t an award winning movie. But it was a very fun experience and I want to watch it again just to try to catch the details about the teams and players that are included in various scenes.
And Jags365 is off to a rousing start. I was very happy to have been invited to this event. It was a very enjoyable evening. Thanks Jacksonville Jaguars!