Based on H.R. Bissinger's book about a small Texas town obsessed with
their high school football team, Friday Night Lights is one of those overly
melodramatic sports movies that make me wonder why sports movies are even
Night Lights (2004)
Starring: Billy Bob Thornton, Lucas Black,
and Derek Luke
Billy Bob Thornton stars as Coach Gary Gains. His Permian High School
team, made up of the stereotypical troubled, overconfident, or driven
athletes, is expected to win the state championship. Of course, that means
they'll get there and play a spectacularly talented team in a game that
goes down to the final second. (I'm not spoiling anything, trust me. What
kind of movie would it be if they went 2-10 and didn't even make the playoffs?
Have you ever seen a mainstream sports movie that doesn't follow that
Of course, Gains and his players have to battle adversity to get to that
game. Quarterback Mike Winchell (Lucas Black) lacks self-esteem and is
constantly belittled by his mother, making it hard for him to be an effective
leader. Halfback Boobie Miles (Derek Luke) is already browsing for a Mercedes-Benz
because he thinks he's going to make it to the pro level. Basically, every
featured player has something to overcome on a personal level and playing
on the Permian Panthers is going to solve that problem for them. If only
life were so simple.
Director Peter Berg uses the now-extremely overused handheld camera style
in almost every scene. The in-game sequences feature hits punctuated with
loud rock music and work on a basic level but don't offer anything fresh.
If you've seen any football movie, you've seen most of the goings-on here.
The biggest revelation here is the on-screen debut of country singer
Tim McGraw as Charles Billingsley, whose son, Don, may not live up to
his legacy. McGraw is effective as the alcoholic, angry dad. Not spectacular,
If you're a sports movie fan,
Friday Night Lights will probably satisfy you with its "more of what you're used to" formula.
If you love movies with plenty of thought-provoking characters and surprising
developments, please skip it. You'll be glad you did.
with the authenticity of some actors playing assistant coaches, director
Peter Berg turned to actual Permian High School coaches to deliver
some lines during game sequences. (Source: The
Internet Movie Database)