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Friday Night Lights More at IMDbPro »

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Awesome Movie!

Author: Traced66 from United States
12 November 2005

This is a great movie! A movie not only about the "sport" football, but the pressure of living up to the expectations that are placed upon the player. I personally bought this movie because it engulfed the very essence of my small town and the extreme attitude towards football. This movie was from what I hear, well researched and a true story. Each player has a love for the game, but also has added pressures placed upon them by various people. The team is out of Texas, which is a serious football state anyway, and the town rallies around the team and lives for "Friday Nights". When the team loses, the town turns soar on the coach, who is played by Billy Bob Thorton, who is AWESOME! He plays this football coach who truly cares for his players, and without saying realizes the pressure these young high school kids are under. He is torn between the town's "gotta win" mentality, and his own view of "let's just give it our all, and have fun playing football". Of course he would never say the latter comment because his job is on the line. Thorton is the best actor to date. He is able to become the character, I mean truly transform into someone else. The QB is great in this film. I can not recall his full name at this time, but in the movie he is known as Michael Wintchum. He is a nervous kid, who is trying to get a football scholarship in order to help his sick/low income mother help. He looks at football as a job, needing to do well. Booby Miles was the star player and needed this as well, only..., well you will see for yourself. This movie is not just "jockish", there is so much symbolism involved. There are a lot of sad moments in the movie, such as when the coach is confronted in the Walmart parking lot, the QB at the kitchen table reviewing plays with his mom, the Booby Miles drama and the crying in the car scene, and the reunion between father and son after the final game, as well as the last play of the game. The music fits the dialogue well. Ten stars, watch it, I know I will be watching it again, after all, I have it right here.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Bank of America on Scoreboard?????

Author: wizardmaster from United States
30 April 2005

OK, not one to nit pick but I think corporate America slapping their names on anything that they can and is just getting out of hand. Did anyone notice in the beginning of the film during a football game that on the score bold in huge size was "Bank of America" and the logo.....

Just as a side note there was no Bank of America in 1988. It was Citizens and Southern (effectionally know as Crank and Screw). It became Nations Bank in early 1990's and only became Bank of America in the mid 1990's.

Just another sign of Corporate America trying to freaking make money and trying to post their name wherever they can.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

More of the same

Author: frankwhat from Lakewood, NJ
14 October 2004

I liked this movie better the first time when it was called "Varsity Blues"!

I don't kid you when I say that there were so many scenes copied directly from that it was absolutely appalling. The only difference was that "Friday Night Lights" was approximately 20 minutes longer and was a drama that contained comedy whereas "VB" was a comedy that contained drama. Any scene that wasn't from "VB" (which was scarce) was most likely from a different past football movie. Don't get me wrong, the acting was alright it was just that the plot was so unoriginal and it was unbearably slow-moving at times. The ending was the only thing that was somewhat unpredictable but even then it was more of a letdown than anything. If you score some complimentary tickets or are looking to burn a hole in your pocket than that's the only way I'd recommend seeing this as there was nothing special about it at all. Another thing I also hate is that every movie that supposedly had taken place in the '80s plays Run DMC's song "Tricky" even though no one really listened to it back then. The only time it was ever popular was after "Road Trip" came out a few years ago. People just don't stop to think about this at all. However one thing's for certain, Billy Bob has definitely been doing his fair share of bad movies!!!

Final Acquittal:

Movies: A waste of time.

DVD Purchase: Only for someone that loves sports movies more than anything.

Rental: You could, but view with low expectations.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Varsity Blues without the humor

Author: d_bornemann from Central Cali
9 October 2004

This movie was well done on all the general aspects (e.g. filmography) but the story and plot were a little weak. The movie is so much like Varsity Blues it's almost scary. West Texas high school football, over stressed young boys, teen angst, overzealous fans in town, etc. But then it's trying to be too much like Remember the Titans, too. The super motivated, down to earth, yet outrageously insightful coach. There's the injuries, the blood on the field, and the motivating locker room speeches.

The problem is that it doesn't have the humor or the fun that VB brought to the table, and it is not nearly as dramatically moving as RTT. What you're left with is some run of the mill football scenes, a predictable story, and not much else. Seven stars for good acting, great filmography, but a tired story.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

The Moose Hole - Review of Friday Night Lights

Author: Joseph Kastner ( from Delafield, Wisconsin
9 October 2004

There are numerous genres and film concepts that Hollywood rarely touches, some of which have changed the minds and perspectives of the studio executives with their recent, and ultimately shocking, successes. The pirate genre, for example, was deemed the poison of the box office after such expensive flops as Cutthroat Island starring Gena Davis with the recent animated film Treasure Planet seeming to confirm that fact but once Pirates of the Caribbean crossed the coveted $300 million mark domestically, no one seems to know what to do now with the genre. And the firefighter genre, barely explored extensively since Backdraft, Ladder 49 has performed admirably at the box office thus far. Another genre that had taken a few hits was the sports-drama, more specifically in the area of football. Rarely had the genre been explored as extensively as it is now, and even fewer successes were created outside of a few comedies here and there (the Waterboy being the only true success of them all), but after the surprising long-run success of Remember the Titans in Fall 2000, the movie studios are scrambling to come up with ideas to produce a football film. Here's hoping it's just as entertaining as the game itself – people can dream, can't they?

The story is based on the now-ten year old novel by H.G. Bissinger entitled 'Friday Night Lights', which Sports Illustrated described as one of the greatest sports stories of all time. In 1988, the small bumpkin town of Odessa, Texas is practically for sale with little high-interest business in the area and plenty of drunks to make the liquor industry exuberant for years. With life as it is, no wonder the only joy they seem to find out of the few months out of the year derives from the town's high-school football team, the Permian High Panthers, whose aspirations are to go undefeated and win the state championship. Then again, that's what the football fanatics of the town say year in and year out, season after season. This year may be different with the star of the football team, nicknamed Booby, leading the charge through every position you can think of on the football field. All hopes are dashed when that star running-back injuries his knee and appears to be out for the season, if not the rest of his potential college career. When the Panthers lose to a district rival, their first hope of going undefeated is destroyed and as the season drags on through the fall they find it harder each time to maintain that aspiration to acquiring the state championship, let alone getting into the playoffs. Off the grid-iron, each player seems to have his own personal conflicts to deal with, some of which deal heavily into their playing ability on the field and how their season may end. If they have any chance what-so-ever to achieve the ultimate goal of becoming the state champions then they must put off their personal disputes and unite as a team to become perfect in their own minds, whether they win or lose. The story for Friday Night Lights, regardless of whether it was good on print or in real life, is an absolute abomination on screen, plain and simple. This film can't hold a candle to the majesty of Remember the Titans, one of the best, if not THE best, sports films of all time. The thing about that film was there was a whole different aspect to the actions on screen besides football, namely racial tension of the 1960s. The press release made it sound like there was a religious connotation, instead you get one stinkin' Our Father (no offense what-so-ever to Catholicism) relatively near the end of the movie and apparently that makes it a religiously affiliated sports film – once again, this is another area Remember the Titans trumps it in.

Though the film's primary focus is the community on the whole, there are few, if any true, stand out performances in this film that will stick with audiences members long after they have left the theater. Billy Bob-Thorton is the obvious standout amongst the cast of this film and even with as vivid a performance as he gives, he appears to be greatly underused. The problem does not lie with Thorton himself but rather the direction the filmmakers fail to take the movie toward. With films like Remember the Titans, you at least got some what of an in-depth approach toward the personal lives of the coaches off the battlefield. With Gary Gaines, you barely get a foot-hold into what the man's life was really like. This isn't to say they should have made a film primarily focused on his biography but they could have given the audience more material then they did. The most anyway, outside of the ones who have read the book, could have gotten from this film about him was that he was a high-school football coach, had a wife and a daughter – Deep! Jay Hernandez serves no point in this film, just as he did appearing all too briefly in another recent release, Ladder 49. This is a shame after the young actor gave two engaging performances in crazy/beautiful and another sports drama, The Rookie, so would think he would get better, if not broader, roles from studios but apparently that didn't happen. Derek Luke's Booby (why would anyone take a nickname like that, let alone a successful player) is a character you just love to hate. There are those who say you should never be envious or spiteful to those that have the ability or the talent to do the things they can do, such as Booby did on the playing field, but when one such as this individual do so with not just pride but extreme arrogance, they often get brought down to earth with a thud as they should. And Tim McGraw, the well-known country music sensation, branches further into the movie industry with a supporting-role in Friday Night Lights and gives an intense, if not partially disengaging, performance. The real problem wasn't with him specifically but with the way the relationship between the father and the son wrapped up too neatly and without much incident, which seemed awkward compared to what was previously seen on screen. Had more information been provided on how McGraw's character sunk to the position he was in then perhaps there would be a better understanding, though not to say this would excuse his behavior in the least.

Overall, Sports Illustrated once called the novel from which this film is based the greatest sports story of all time and you can't help but have further disrespect for the magazine then after witnessing for your own eyes the travesty that is Friday Night Lights. Peter Berg's stylized, and often awkwardly close-up, camera direction may have worked splendidly in The Rundown but it doesn't here. There's may be saying that if you look into a person's eyes you are staring into their souls but when Berg does it with the characters of this film, all you see bloodshot eyeballs and a lot of sweat. Another key concept a brilliant film needs to grasp is the idea of transition – a smooth, seamless transition from one scene to the next, even if one scene is critical and the next isn't. The problem with Berg is that he doesn't do that anywhere within this film. He'll have a critical scene (for example, the boy's drunken father catching his son practically having sex with this girl and duck-taping a football to his hands – you'll have to see the film to get it, so don't freak out), play it out and then just awkwardly end it in order to move on to the next scene. He didn't do this once, this happen frequent throughout the film and confuses the audience easily. Without giving away the film's ending, let's speak plainly and say it made the entire previous two hours of this movie definitively meaningless. It's hard to describe the feeling without giving anything away but once you see that dialogue on that screen right at the end of the film, you'll know it. Bottom-line, there's was just no connection between what was occurring on screen and the audience. Perhaps those who have played the game of football will feel a more powerful connection or have a much broader understanding of the players and supporting characters on screen then the average Joe, who spent better time hitting the books then the dirt, but (and if this is getting tiring then this shows how bad this film is) Remember the Titans was able to appeal to not only that specific group but a wide demographic as well without losing its message. Here, there may be a message but the mainstream audience doesn't get it, so it's like it never existed.

My Rating: ** out of 5 (Grade: D)

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Awesome Football Movie

Author: BManBPM from Downingtown, Pennsylvania
9 October 2004

As a student in Pennsylvania, I believe that high school football is big in Pennsylvania. But the way Peter Berg brought out the intensity of Texans in Friday Night Lights was unbelievable. The passion of the players, coaches, and fans seemed to come to life in Friday Night Lights. The acting was superb. Billy Bob Thorton was great in the role of Gary Gaines. I read the book, and was just as pleased with the movie. The hard-hitting action was brought right to you, and you felt each hit. The ups and downs were magnified in the small town, and the movie brought that out perfectly. Also I did not know Tim McGraw could even act. What a job he did. The passion of the players was a wonderful thing to watch, and for any sports fan, not just football, it is a must see. The "be perfect" message has to be recited by all coaches before every game.

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Liked the way it got made, just wasn't very interested in the story.

Author: Boba_Fett1138 from Groningen, The Netherlands
28 June 2011

Normally I'm quite fond of sports films. I actually have a real soft spot for them, so I tend to forgive them for any weaknesses and inconsistencies, more so than any other type of movie. "Friday Night Lights" however just didn't do anything for me at all.

Perhaps I missed something but what exactly was supposed to make this movie its story such an interesting one? Seriously, I just didn't see anything special about any of the characters or anything that made this story an unique one, from a sports perspective. Stories like this happen every year, in every branch of sport, on every level, everywhere in the world.

So sports-wise this movie isn't a very interesting one to watch but also its characters and the rest of the story, revolving around them, just isn't that very interesting or original. I never got the feeling I got to know any of the characters, since they were really lacking some good depth, no matter how good the actors all are. It also made me not really care for any of them, or what was going to happen next in the story. But it's a sports movie, so the story is of course sort of predictable anyway to begin with.

I still think director Peter Berg did a good job with the material he had at hands. I liked the whole visual approach and style of film-making for this movie. It had a fast pace, with lots of quick cuts and hand-held camera-work. The whole style still kept me watching and also made this movie a still mostly watchable one, though it just isn't anything special at all.

It's a typical American movie, so perhaps this movie is better to watch if you're actually an American and especially when you're into American football as well of course. I just didn't do anything for me at all, though I can actually enjoy and appreciate American football on television. I just rather watch a real match than this movie, ever again.


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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Melrose Place on a Football Field

Author: sportmeetslife14 from United States
4 March 2011

When asked about this film by another sports fan, I couldn't help but and say that, to me Friday Night Lights is little more than Melrose Place of a football field. Or maybe the better put, the last time this film came out, it was called Varsity Blues.

Go figure, Billy Bob Thornton is a Texas high school football at Permian High; a school with a huge stadium and a bigger tradition for football. Permian's coach who, like every high school football coach in every film about football, has as his task coaching the underdogs to the state championship. The herd of football boys practice, play, win, and win more, then get interviewed by local media and generally get put on a pedestal as the sole means of inspiration for a small Texas town.

In chatting about this film, a friend of mine put it this way: "I never knew how big high school football is in Texas". That may be true, but football is big everywhere in the United States, so who cares? Why does Texas get special recognition for loving football, I wonder.

Carrying the film's predictability further, the successful season for coach and the boys leads them to play the top team in the state. Egos inflame and partying leads to some unruly behavior amidst the backdrop of social disparity and minor racial tensions.

More predictable --given today's trash TV and the need to do what you can to keep people watching-- is the amount of open sexuality and hook ups availed to these high school football players. After all, according to this film, high school football players claim instant celebrity status and have the physique of 26 year old men. Of course, only in a special place like Texas.

Sure there's a place in popular American film for a movie like Friday Night Lights, and an appetite among moviegoers. And the trashy, kitchy veneer is a standard part of the sales kit. Much of this appetite comes from America's love of film and sport both, and especially when movies and football are combined. However, the makers of the film seem to think that slick southern accents and "go get 'em" speeches stapled to pretty boys strutting around like NFL pros is something that is supposed to lift us up for life.

Unfortunately, while the thrill of the football play is there in the film --for die hard football fans-- the whole of Friday Night Lights is a canned, predictable stock movie we've seen a hundred times before.

written by Andy Frye,

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

A Perfect High School Story to Always Remember.

Author: rr614961 from United States
17 March 2009

This shows an excellent story of the high school lives of small town Texas kids and the love of football they all share together. The kids ban together to win a state football championship. They grew up together and live their hopes and dreams through playing football. Most cannot get out of the small town with academics and look to football as an escape method. They continually work and struggle with one common goal in mind. Billy Bob Thorton gives a great performance as the head coach and shows how most students use their coach as another parent to mentor them through the tough times of growing up. This film takes you on a journey through mental and physical toughness and prepares you for a chance to take an adventure into the world of sports and relive your childhood through the eyes of the ambitious high school athletes in America.

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Friday Night Lite - but enjoyable anyway

Author: Roland E. Zwick ( from United States
19 October 2005

The best thing about "Friday Night Lights" is how it exposes the small town obsession with high school football. In Odessa, Texas, where the story is set, businesses shut down and radio sports commentators opine with the pretentious air of political pundits when the Permian Panthers take to the field. Now this is some serious football country, as the mood of the town fluctuates with the win/loss record of the team and family dynamics follow along with the ebb and flow of the season. It may be that somebody down there in Odessa just seriously needs to get a life.

Based on the book by H.G. Bissinger, the film recounts the 1988 season when Coach Gary Gaines, despite the loss of his best player, still managed to carry his team to the state championships.

Unfortunately, the storyline and characters in the film are not always as interesting as the setting and milieu. The drama is occasionally lacking and many of the characters rank as little more than hoary sports movie clichés: the supportive coach's wife; the abusive, alcoholic father trying to relive his high school glory days through his son; the cocky star player humbled by the exigencies of a cruel fate. Yet, the film has assets that help it to overcome some of the weaknesses of the script. Billy Bob Thornton plays Gaines as a thoughtful, even-tempered individual who knows what it takes to win but understands that life does not begin and end on the football field. His inspirational locker room speech towards the close is restrained, pointed and well delivered. In fact, the coach seems far less obsessed with winning than many of the ordinary folks he runs into - and has to take unsolicited advice from - on a daily basis. It is that pressure to win at all costs - placed not only on the boys but on the coach as well - that the movie dramatizes so effectively. The film also makes it clear that, for many of these boys, football is the only ticket they will ever have out of small town America.

"Friday Night Lights" isn't nearly as compelling and involving as "Remember the Titans," but die-hard football fans won't be complaining.

POSTSCRIPT (2014). Little did I imagine at the time I wrote this review that "Friday Night Lights" would one day become my favorite TV series of all time.

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