Movie Review: “Draft Day”

Starring
Kevin Costner, Jennifer Garner, Dennis Leary, Frank Langella, Chadwick Boseman, Josh Pence, Tom Welling
Director
Ivan Reitman

You can tell the kind of movie “Draft Day” is going to be by the company it keeps. The NFL and ESPN are on board, which means they approve of the story line, which means said story is safe as kittens. And holy cow, is this movie safe. That it manages to still be entertaining is to its great credit, and nearly all of that is because of Kevin Costner. Imagining this movie with anyone besides him in the lead role is unthinkable.

Sonny Weaver Jr. (Costner) is the general manager of the Cleveland Browns, and he’s feeling the heat. It’s the first day of the NFL draft – and only a few months after his father, and legendary Browns head coach, passed away – and Sonny is picking seventh. He’s fine with picking seventh, but the team’s owner, Anthony Molina (Frank Langella), is not. He wants Sonny to make a headline-worthy move, making it clear that it will cost him his job if he doesn’t. Sonny lets that pressure get the best of him by agreeing to trade a king’s ransom to Seattle for the first pick in the draft, much to the dismay of new coach, and Super Bowl winner (just ask him), Penn (Denis Leary). Having the first pick puts Sonny in position to take can’t-miss Wisconsin quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Bo Callahan (Josh Pence), but as the day progresses, Sonny learns things about Callahan that cause him to question Callahan’s character. Is there a way to take the decision he made to mortgage the team’s future and spin it into something he can be proud of?

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Julia Louis-Dreyfus returns in “VEEP”

We love this photo of Julia Louis-Dreyfus on the cover of Rolling Stone promoting the new season of “VEEP” on HBO. She’s always looked hot and has been one of the funniest women on television for years. “VEEP” made our list last year of the best shows on television, so we’re looking forward to another great season.

  

Blu Tuesday: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Grudge Match and More

Every Tuesday, I review the newest Blu-ray releases and let you know whether they’re worth buying, renting or skipping, along with a breakdown of the included extras. If you see something you like, click on the cover art to purchase the Blu-ray from Amazon, and be sure to share each week’s column on Facebook and Twitter with your friends.

“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”

WHAT: Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellan) and the band of dwarves led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) continue their quest to reclaim Erebor. Along the way, they must contend with orcs, giant spiders, humans and the Elvenking himself in order to reach the Lonely Mountain, where Smaug the dragon (Benedict Cumberbatch) dwells.

WHY: For as much fun as “The Desolation of Smaug” is at times, the film suffers from many of the same problems as its predecessor. Not only are there too many subplots, but the story is bursting at the seams with so many characters (including new faces like Beorn, Bard the Bowman and Tauriel) that not even Bilbo is given very much to do this time around. The dwarves, meanwhile, are treated like background characters, with only a few truly standing out, like Thorin, Ken Stott’s Balin and Aiden Turner’s Kili, who’s part of a Peter Jackson-invented love triangle with Evangeline Lilly’s elven warrior Tauriel and Orlando Bloom’s Legolas. In fact, though it may not have been a popular decision with fans, the Legolas/Tauriel scenes (which are mostly action-oriented) are some of the best in the movie. The barrel escape from the Elvenking’s dungeon, in particular, is even better than the Goblin Town sequence from “An Unexpected Journey.” But if you thought that the first installment was too long, Part Two only further proves that expanding the book into three movies wasn’t the wisest decision. Jackson spends so much time on trivial material that when it comes time for Bilbo and the dwarves’ big showdown with Smaug, you just want him to get on with it.

EXTRAS: The two-disc release includes a documentary hosted by Peter Jackson detailing the daily routine on set, four additional featurettes on shooting pick-ups, post-production and the musical score, the 2013 live event “In the Cutting Room” and Part Two of the location featurette “New Zealand: Home of Middle-earth.”

FINAL VERDICT: RENT

“Grudge Match”

WHAT: 30 years after their last fight, boxing rivals Henry “Razor” Sharp (Sylvester Stallone) and Billy “The Kid” McDonnen (Robert De Niro) agree to come out of retirement for one final match when boxing promoter Dante Slate Jr. (Kevin Hart) makes them an offer they can’t refuse: the chance to prove who’s the best once and for all.

WHY: The idea of pairing Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro in a boxing movie may sound great on paper, but only if it had been made during their “Rocky” and “Raging Bull” days. Watching the two aging actors step back into the ring decades later is not only embarrassing for them, but the audience as well, particularly when the movie is built around a bunch of unfunny old geezer jokes and lame callbacks to their respective boxing characters. The script is also weighed so heavily in Stallone’s favor that you already know who will win before the fight takes place. It certainly doesn’t help that De Niro seems physically incapable of going 12 rounds with Stallone, though to be fair, it’s Kim Basinger who looks the worst of the three, almost as if she’s been in a few fights of her own. The only thing that “Grudge Match” has going for it is Alan Arkin’s wiseass trainer, but it’s not nearly enough to forgive Stallone and De Niro for agreeing to make this humorless piece of fluff.

EXTRAS: The Blu-ray release boasts a behind-the-scenes look at filming the final fight, interviews with former boxing champs like Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield and Larry Holmes, an alternate opening, two alternate endings, deleted scenes and a pair of featurettes with Kevin Hart.

FINAL VERDICT: SKIP

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Time to Upgrade to a Men’s Watch

Whether you just finished college, recently got hitched, or just celebrated your Bar Mitzvah, you are now officially a man. While your $20 Timex Ironman has been reliable, it is past time to retire it.

You know the watch I’m talking about…the one you got from your Aunt on your eight birthday; the one with twelve different features (most of which you never used).

You’ve spent five times the original cost of the watch on battery replacements, and the nylon band, well, it smells pretty rank. Pay attention, because these will be the deciding factors while trying to decide which men’s watch to buy.

Is it Practical?

First and foremost, purchase a watch that is practical. It sounds like I’m joking, but I’m not. When contemplating the complexities of purchasing a watch, consider both your lifestyle and the usefulness of the watch. Below is a watch that I think you will find—umm, rather useless.

Black Movado watch leather

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Did you fill out the Quicken Loans Billion Dollar Bracket?

March Madness is set to begin tomorrow, and there’s plenty of buzz around players like Creighton’s Doug McDermott, Duke’s Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins of Kansas. But all everyone seems to be talking about is the Quicken Loans Billion Dollar Bracket which is insured by Warren Buffet. Buffet has been making the rounds on television, as has Dan Gilbert, the billionaire founder of Quicken Loans and owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Now Nate Silver is chiming in as he he launches his FiveThirtyEight blog on ESPN. Silver calculated that you would have roughly a one in 7.4 billion chance to win. So basically you have no chance, but I decided to fill one out anyways. Why not? I haven’t filled out a bracket for years, but this promo was just interesting enough to get me to try it.

March Madness has become an institution and filling out brackets an annual ritual. Of course that’s just the beginning as places like Las Vegas will be a zoo this weekend with all the first round games. Around the world it doesn’t quite measure up to events like the World Cup which will have bettors going crazy in every part of the planet, from Canada down to South Africa betting houses. People for that one will be checking every betting site and wiki to find information. That’s what’s going on here this week for March Madness. College hoops gets some attention, but not a ton during the regular season. Then everyone tries to become an expert over a couple of days as they start filling out their bracket.

Of course, your girlfriend who sticks with the favorites and then some of her favorite teams can probably do just as well as you given all the luck that’s involved.

I like to go with my own teams as well. Why not pick teams you like? Winning a bracket pool with lots of people is practically impossible. Of course, in office pools, you do have a real chance to win, or at least get some bragging rights for doing well, so I guess there some research is in order.

But with the Buffett bracket, I blew through it quickly and picked teams I liked. I have just as good a chance as anyone – one in 7.4 billion!

  

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