Based on the non-fiction bestseller by H.G. Bissinger, Friday Night Lights
looks at high school football in the harsh light of reality, finding heart and hardness while stirring our emotions. Actor-director Peter Berg is Bissinger's cousin; he knows the material well, and understands how an obsession with winning turns high school kids into somber, over-pressured gladiators--expendable soldiers in a community war against shame and obscurity. The fact-based story focuses on the 1988 football season of Odessa-Permian high school in West Texas, and as a fast-paced sports movie, Berg delivers the goods with a rousing, frenetically styled crowd-pleaser. But there's darkness in this tale of weary underdogs, including an abusive father (well-played by country music star Tim McGraw), threatening townsfolk, an injured star running back (Derek Luke), a tormented quarterback (Lucas Black), and the melancholy coach (Billy Bob Thornton) who takes his team to the finals. Berg's film could use less flashy cutting and more drama to support its gridiron intensity, but Friday Night Lights
offers a refreshing alternative to the conventional sports movie. --Jeff Shannon, Amazon.com
Based on the best-selling book by H.G. Bissinger, Peter Berg's gritty, powerful drama tells the true story of a small Texas town in which high school football is the only thing that matters. Set in 1988, Friday Night Lights
opens on the first day of practice for the Odessa Permian Panthers. Under intense pressure and scrutiny from the town's residents, head coach Gary Gaines (Billy Bob Thornton) nonetheless maintains a calm faÃ§ade. His star player, Boobie Miles (Derek Luke), is a running back with unlimited potential, but the rest of the team is undersized and lacking killer instinct--especially quarterback Mike Winchell (Lucas Black), who's shy and short of confidence, and Don Billingsley (Garrett Hedlund), who is tormented by his father (Tim McGraw) for being too soft. When Boobie goes down on opening day with a career threatening knee injury, the season appears to be over. But Gaines won't give up, and neither will the rest of his feisty players. Billy Bob Thornton delivers another outstanding performance in Berg's impassioned drama, as do the film's young actors (most notably Luke, Black, and Hedlund). Tobias Schliessler's fuel-injected photography and Explosion in the Sky's electrifying score make Friday Night Lights
an even more spectacular movie-going experience.