On DVD & Blu-Ray: September 2, 2014


Since first catching a glimpse of the trailers for Draft Day late last year I pretty much dismissed it as the least in a line of attempts by Kevin Costner to prove he still had the ability to anchor a film. While he's made a notable contribution in what many would agree were the best moments in last summers Man of Steel he has since not been able to really anchor a box office success where he was closer to the forefront of the action and the marketing. It is unlikely we will see another incarnation of Chris Pine's Jack Ryan where Costner served as a strong crutch and Three Days to Kill was more or less Costner trying to prove he could be Liam Neeson if people wanted him to be audiences still seemed to be on shaky ground as to whether Costner is that "face on the poster" kind of movie star that could usher a film into general audience favor as he once was. Needless to say, this is the better of Costner's two leading roles this year mostly because there is some real investment here not only because it serves to function as one big commercial for the NFL but because there is genuine drama to be had in the dynamics of a teams general manager and every other point of contact that is to be made throughout the course of what is no doubt the busiest day of these guys year. As its title would suggest, Draft Day takes place over the course of twenty-four hours and in that seemingly short time span writers Rajiv Joseph (a short list of TV credits) and Scott Rothman (no previous writing credits at all) are able to evoke a multitude of storylines and layers to give us a game of politics with a backdrop most of the movie-going public is at least vaguely familiar with. I didn't expect much from Draft Day, but as the film nicely paces itself and builds up to its final scene I became increasingly intrigued in the outcome of these characters lives and couldn't help but to wonder how Costner's Sonny Weaver Jr. might find a way to please everyone and, despite the fact the bow is tied a little too neatly in the end, would be lying if I said Sonny and his movie didn't satisfy me and indeed actually exceeded any expectations I held for it. Full review here. C+

Though I am typically a fan of director David Wain and his crew of comedians that that populate all of his films I became weary of They Came Together after it both premiered without a wide theatrical release and was subject to some less than stellar reviews. I mean, I was one of the few who enjoyed Wanderlust and of course love Role Models and Wet Hot American Summer despite the fact I didn't experience that film until nearly a decade after its release. The point being, I have a certain level of expectation for a new Wain/Paul Rudd collabo and so it was with lowered anticipation I finally sat down to watch their latest. They Came Together hues much closer to Wain's feature directorial debut than anything he has done since and what makes it so charming is not that it recognizes and spells out for the audience the joke it is telling, but that it fully immerses itself in the world of the joke it is telling. Framed by couple Molly (Amy Poehler) and Joel (Rudd) telling the story of how they met over dinner to Karen (Ellie Kemper) and Kyle (Bill Hader) we are delivered a series of romantic comedy tropes that are amped up to eleven here and called out on all of the simple-mindedness with which these light and fluffy films depict our complex society. You will recognize every situation and character that is presented here and then you will laugh at how expertly Wain and co-writer Michael Showalter have exposed the hackneyed situations presented in these formulaic contraptions that usually depict love in its most backwards and dishonest forms. They Came Together is a full-on satire and doesn't make any apologies for it, parading out Cobie Smulders, Christopher Meloni, Max Greenfield, Jason Mantzoukas, Ed Helms, Michael Ian Black and Kenan Thompson among many others to stress the points of how convoluted and ridiculous things can get when a board room is allowed to put together a story about one of the most personal and unique emotions to each of us. They Came Together isn't looking to go deep though, and we should recognize that as the film certainly does. It isn't shooting for the stars, it just wants to grab a couple laughs by dissecting many film lovers have come to despise and to that effect it does its job well. B-

I have yet to see one of director Kelly Reichardt's films and don't plan on starting with her latest, Night Moves, which stars Jesse Eisenberg and Dakota Fanning as a pair of radical environmentalists along with Peter Sarsgaard who are looking to execute the protest of their lives: the explosion of a hydroelectric dam. I've heard good things about her previous effort, 2010's Meek's Cutoff, but the buzz just wasn't here for this one and gives me no motivation to seek it out though I can only imagine I'll eventually see a work of hers whether it be Cutoff or a newer release that garners more attention.







Another in the long line of faith-based films to come out this year, though you wouldn't know it by anything about the plot synopsis or the cover art. Moms' Night Out features Sarah Drew (Grey's Anatomy) in a leading role supported by the likes of Sean Astin, Patricia Heaton and yes, that is Trace Adkins about a couple of moms who embark on a girls night out scenario, but who can't even count on their husbands to keep things under control for a few hours. The reviews weren't kind to this one and give me no reason to waste my time with it.