Friday Night Lights

"Very Good"

Friday Night Lights Review


When the lights come on at the 20,000-seat Ratliff Stadium, the city of Odessa, Texas shuts down. Streets are deserted and stores close early so that everyone can crowd onto the sparse campus of Permian High School to cheer on their Panthers. In this small, barren town, Friday night football is bigger than life.

Based on journalist H.G. Bissinger's best selling book, Friday Night Lights examines the craze surrounding the team's bumpy road to the 1988 state championship. For these players, excelling at football is the only ticket out of their dilapidated desert town. All of Odessa's residents are motivated to do their part to help get them out. Players are pushed to the breaking point on the field by driven coaches, and equally pressed off the field by their win-obsessed parents. At the local burger joint, players eat for free, heed words of advice, and pose for pictures with fans.

Under the watchful eye of second-year coach Gary Gaines (Billy Bob Thorton), the season once again looks promising. But, when their superstar running back Boobie Miles (Derek Luke) goes down with a severely injured knee in the season opener, the unimaginable happens: The team starts losing. Gaines is immediately criticized on local radio, and chastised publicly for building the Panther offense around one player. With very few alternatives, Gaines turns to the team's quarterback Mike Winchell (Lucas Black), third-string running back Chris Comer (Lee Thompson Young), and tailback Don Billingsley (Garrett Hedlund) to shoulder the load.

The remainder of the season is a struggle, and yet, because of the tireless dedication and desire the Panthers have to overcome their problems on and off the field, they make the impossible possible. FNL remarkably captures the heart and spirit of its players, the pride of their parents, and the uncompromising addiction of its fans. All are relentless in their pursuit to make Permian High better than perfect.

Director Peter Berg scores touchdowns for his ability to accurately capture the intensity and fervor of the gridiron. The film's gritty look, along with cinematographer Tobias Schliessler's dizzying handheld camera shots, make us part of every hard-hitting tackle. We're never just watching from the stands; we're in the middle of the action, and in close-ups so realistic we actually fear the linebacker that's ready to pummel our ass. Off the field, Schliessler widens-out his camera to find soft, quiet pink and amber sunsets and desolate, wind-swept one-road plains. The West-Texas desert never looked so beautiful.

Despite all of the passion conjured up on screen, surprisingly we feel little of this emotion in the audience. While Berg does an amazing job placing us in the middle of the action, strangely, we never feel connected to these players as fans. This is because FNL keeps us at an unfair distance that really never allows us to know the players. We only scratch the surface of Winchell's struggles with his estranged mother, the constant beatings Billingsley gets from his drunken father (Tim Mcgraw), or Boobie's reluctance to watch from the sidelines.

When the film's big finale arrives, we find ourselves too far away from the edges of our seats. And in that moment, when the big play should mean the most to us, we're quickly tackled for a loss of yards.

The DVD includes 20 minutes of deleted scenes, commentary from Berg and writer Buzz Bissinger, and some making-of footage.

Hut two!



Friday Night Lights

Facts and Figures

Run time: 118 mins

In Theaters: Friday 8th October 2004

Box Office USA: $61.2M

Box Office Worldwide: $61.3M

Budget: $30M

Distributed by: Universal Pictures

Production compaines: Universal Studios, Imagine Entertainment, Friday Night Lights LLC, MDBF Filmgesellschaft mbH & Company KG

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 81%
Fresh: 136 Rotten: 32

IMDB: 7.3 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer:

Starring: as Coach Gary Gaines, as Mike Winchell, as Don Billingsley, as Boobie Miles, as Maria, as Brian Chavez, as Chris Comer, as Charles Billingsley, as Loie Harris, Grover Coulson as L.V. Miles, as Sharon Gaines, Connie Cooper as Mrs. Winchell, Kasey Stevens as Flippy, Ryanne Duzich as Melissa, as Jennifer Gaines, Katherine Willis as Booster Wife

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Hidden Figures Movie Review

Hidden Figures Movie Review

This film recounts such a great true story that we don't mind the fact that...

The Founder Movie Review

The Founder Movie Review

This is the story of Ray Kroc, the man who created the concept of McDonald's....

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

Keanu Reeves picks up his supremely efficient hitman immediately where the 2015 original left him:...

Fences Movie Review

Fences Movie Review

After winning Tony Awards on Broadway, Denzel Washington and Viola Davis reteam for a film...

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

A spin-off from 2014's awesome The Lego Movie, this raucously paced action-comedy is proof that...

The Space Between Us Movie Review

The Space Between Us Movie Review

While the premise of this movie makes it look like a sci-fi adventure, the truth...

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

On paper, the idea of a two-hour 40-minute German comedy may not seem very promising,...

Advertisement
Gold Movie Review

Gold Movie Review

Based on a true story, this lively and sometimes outrageous adventure is packed with twists...

Loving Movie Review

Loving Movie Review

While this film tackles a huge issue in the history of race relations in America,...

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

It's been 20 years since we last saw four freewheeling young junkies from Edinburgh spiral...

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Based on an astounding true story, this battlefield drama mixes warm emotion with intense action...

Sing Movie Review

Sing Movie Review

The quality of the animation in this musical comedy may not be up to Pixar...

Jackie Movie Review

Jackie Movie Review

Rather than make a standard biopic about the most famous First Lady in American history,...

Split Movie Review

Split Movie Review

After a few badly received sci-fi blockbusters, M. Night Shyamalan returned to his earthier style...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.