Blog by: George Thomas and Ron Ledgard
Every so often I get lucky and my past life as the movie critic at the Beacon Journal/Ohio.com and current one as a sportswriter intersect. Such was the case when I got a sneak peak of the new film Draft Day which covers the fictional 2014 draft of the team, will hit theaters April 11. It stars Kevin Costner as the general manager of the Cleveland Browns.
You won’t see reviews of the movie until closer to the release date, but here are some preliminary impressions that I had while watching it.
Cleveland as a city and the Browns as an organization get draped in glory courtesy of director Ivan Reitman. The city is filmed beautifully and there’s little doubt that unlike Major League, the baseball classic that was filmed primarily in (correction here: Milwaukee. I initially had Baltimore which was filming location for Major League II), that this is C-town. Right now given the maelstrom that surrounds the team, it wouldn’t be surprising for the film to follow that tact. It doesn’t. Functionally the Browns get painted in the best possible light. For the team and fans that will be a welcome reprieve from the emotional month that everyone has endured not to mention the past 18 years when you include the team's move to Maryland.
Speaking of Major League: for those expecting that, the film’s tone is decidedly different. I get that. It’s a case of been there seen that only 26 years ago. Given that Major League is all over the place as far as television is concerned during the lead-up to Opening Day, it shows the reverence that the film engenders. It’s a de facto classic that’s been shared across generations and fandom, especially in Cleveland and despite the fact that little of it was actually filmed here.
Along with the sights of the city, plenty of local voices and faces make appearances. Most prominently: Tony Rizzo and Aaron Goldhammer of WKNR’s (850 A.M.) The Really Big Show have substantial parts. Current team CEO Joe Banner makes a cameo as do team legends Jim Brown and Bernie Kosar.
Guess what else is clear? Kevin Costner, really, really, really, really, really loves sports movies. By my unofficial count this is No. 5 on his resume, but his first football flick. His love of sports and film is usually reserved for baseball themed movies and he’s starred in a couple of classics – Bull Durham, probably the ultimate film about minor league baseball, and Field of Dreams, which is nothing short of a masterpiece about how baseball is like life. Even if you disagree with that sentiment, there’s little denying the film’s power. For fans of the actor who owned the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, you may want to call this part of his comeback, one that began as a trickle in the small, but pivotal role as Jonathan Kent in Man of Steel. His turn was one of the best parts of that reimagining of Cleveland’s native son. However, he’s already appeared in the reboot of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan character: Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (it’s worth a look) this year and has three other films including Draft Day arriving in theaters in 2014.