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Awesome: 31.43%
Worth A Look51.43%
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9 reviews, 51 user ratings

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Friday Night Lights
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by Laura Kyle

"All is fair in love and football."
5 stars

FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS is set in 1988 Odessa, Texas, where football is much more than a game, in fact: it's the very heartbeat of the rural town. And in order for the seventeen-year-old senior high school football players to get out of Odessa, they'll have to carry it to victory first.

Coach Gary Gaines' (Billy Bob Thornton) strategy of success rests upon the shoulders of star running back Boobie Miles (Derek Luke), but when his injured ACL threatens the team's chances of advancing, the already mounting pressures rear their ugly heads upon the other players. Promising college scholarships, the town's esteem, and ultimately: that last shot at glory, lay on the other side of the touchdown line.

Friday Night Lights is one of those "based on a true story" films that is actually authentic. Although there are expected characters, the familiarity of a sports movie and its players is not taken advantage of by director Peter Berg, who trusts his audience enough to let realism and acting play out, rather than force character arcs and "football is a metaphor for life" themes. He lets the real story behind the screenplay entertain. Yes, there is the usual montage of the team's wins and losses, and of course that final race against the clock, but Berg created something original and inspired.

The young cast featured in Friday Night Lights is solid. The likeable Lucas Black as the serious quarterback who must bare the responsibility of caring for his unwell mother, is perfectly cast, maintaining such a solemn and tough exterior while hinting at great turmoil beneath the surface. Derek Luke is fabulous as an arrogant, and somewhat foolish football star who must come to terms with his Achilles' Heel, and Garrett Hedlund, as Don, a son tormented by his father's overbearing and abusive need for him to succeed in the game, gives a heart wrenching performance. Country singer Tim McGraw makes a surprisingly wonderful transition onto the big screen as Don's drunken dad. And it is safe to say that Bill Bob Thornton has appeased some of the more speculative moviegoers who perhaps weren't too impressed by his preceding performances, though he still appears to be exploiting the same techniques. Thornton's seemingly unaffected portrayal, which may have hindered him in earlier films, in this case - is just what Gaines needs.

Friday Night Lights is based upon the novel by Buzz Bissinger, and translated to the screen by David Cohen and director Berg. And it's an Oscar-worthy script indeed. Friday Night Lights is about a small town's obsession with high school football, where stores shut down for every game, and citizens threaten a less-than-perfect coach. A town where early 20th Century racial tensions has not died. A town so depressed, it must put all its hopes and dreams into a stadium score board.

And alas, FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS is not about winning (a notion that distracts many sports movies), but brotherhood, forgiveness, and the human spirit.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=10978&reviewer=369
originally posted: 10/23/04 12:26:28
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User Comments

9/13/17 morris campbell very good u should read the book as well both recommened 4 stars
1/14/09 Shaun Wallner Very Interesting 4 stars
5/02/07 David Pollastrini pretty dull 2 stars
10/18/06 alexzander duke it was a great movie one of my best 5 stars
7/04/06 William Goss Mercifully unsentimental, but exhausting in its town pressure and teen angst. 3 stars
3/18/06 Elizabeth Pretty good - worth a rent 4 stars
3/17/06 MP Bartley I detest American Football - yet, this is a great film. Thumpingly heartfelt. 4 stars
3/07/06 Carolyn Rathburn A good hometown movie 4 stars
3/07/06 myzzy Teen flick, not much more.. rent it vs movie theater to save some money 3 stars
3/06/06 Annie G This was ok, but I was sorry I had bought the DVD instead of renting it! 3 stars
1/03/06 Piz Just another "sports meets teenage angst" movies. Seen one, seen em all. 3 stars
12/12/05 joe mieres this movie was very heart felt and i could fell myself in there position. 5 stars
12/08/05 Frank Rountree A movie with a true and good story, can't go wrong here. 4 stars
11/15/05 Jodie GREAT!!!! LOVED IT 5 stars
11/14/05 Taylor Fladgate The only football movie better than "All the right moves" 5 stars
10/27/05 millersxing Failed to connect on a Hoosiers level with either the football or the personal lives 3 stars
10/20/05 Brandon Hudspeth this film was one of the greatest sports films ever made 5 stars
10/06/05 ed garza good 5 stars
8/08/05 Doremimi If watching people cry over football makes you roll your eyes, you'll wanna skip this one. 3 stars
7/10/05 Charlie The plot is pretty good, but Billy Bob is even better. 4 stars
6/08/05 R.W. Welch Engrossing fact-based gridiron yarn. No doubt hyped a bit but effectively done. 4 stars
5/03/05 Romes Best film of 2004 5 stars
3/29/05 Fred An average movie, constant camera angle changes make it seem like a home-made movie 3 stars
2/19/05 HL Nothing Deep Here..A Formula Movie...Bit Overdone...Visual Though 4 stars
2/14/05 Angela Saunders Typical football movie but if you love Tim McGraw or Billy Bob Thornton it is a must see! 4 stars
2/13/05 Jeanine Price Loved this movie 4 stars
2/05/05 Susan Chamberlain Pretty intense. Not a cheer you up movie. 4 stars
2/04/05 Colleen Goldrick good movie 4 stars
1/31/05 Robert Pfeifer A great football movie. Great acting and a nice storyline. 4 stars
1/30/05 Michael Lisanti Fantastic Movie, up there with the orginial Rocky in terms of sports movies. 5 stars
1/29/05 Carl Gorney Has the feel of a documentary-great job by alll 5 stars
1/29/05 Pete H Just because the film doesn't end in the cliche manner, doesn't make it an awesome movie!!! 3 stars
12/12/04 rich cliched, no character developed, lame 2 stars
11/15/04 Mike V One of the darkest and best sports movies ever made 5 stars
11/03/04 Attorneychick Perfect depiction of Texas High School Football! Had no clue Tim McGraw can act?! 5 stars
10/26/04 Cindy It was a geat movie. I really connected with the characters and got involved in the movie. 5 stars
10/24/04 moviedude shows football as the all end all in the texas town, but does nothing else for this viewer. 2 stars
10/22/04 cristi definetly an accurate portrayal of Texas High School football 5 stars
10/19/04 Jake The movie was great, I felt like crying at the end, The music was very well done 5 stars
10/16/04 MR Damn this movie was tight. I'm a big football fan and it was the shit, it delivered. See it 5 stars
10/16/04 Vinnie B It takes guts to make a movie like this that avoids cliches and a feel good ending. 5 stars
10/16/04 mactheknight very good. Did not like all the close-ups 4 stars
10/16/04 Jeremy Burroughs its the best football ive ever seen 5 stars
10/12/04 Elizabeth The agony & ecstacy of football as a microcosm of smalltown life. Poignant and enjoyable. 4 stars
10/12/04 Desperado Great movie, based on a even greater book, Thorton and McGraw (?!) are great 5 stars
10/11/04 JW movie is more "faction" than anything--based on true story but significantly softened 5 stars
10/08/04 Kris Bad Santa teaches football. Who can resist? 5 stars
10/08/04 malcolm distracting camera work. also see "All The Right Moves" and documentary "Go Tigers." 4 stars
10/05/04 Jessica Hedrick more factual than the book it is based on, if you lived in w. texasd you'll love it 4 stars
10/03/04 Josh Standlee The ONLY good football movie is "Waterboy". Don't see this shit!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 1 stars
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  08-Oct-2004 (PG-13)
  DVD: 18-Jan-2005



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