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Friday Night Lights

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Friday Night Lights

Starring: Billy Bob Thornton, Derek Luke
Director: Peter Berg
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 117 Minutes
Release Date: October 2004
Genres: Drama, Sports

*Also starring: Garrett Hedlund, Jay Hernandez, Lucas Black, Lee Thompson Young, Connie Britton, Tim McGraw, Lee Jackson, Josh Berry, Paul Wright, Dennis Hill, Kevin Page

Review by Susan Granger
3½ stars out of 4

P> Based on what Sports Illustrated calls one of the top five sports stories, this true tale chronicles an American subcultural phenomenon: the obsession of local Friday Night football.

In 1988 in Ratliff Stadium in the economically depressed town of Odessa in the West Texas desert, the perennial powerhouse, the Permian High School Panthers, are determined to win their fifth state championship. For these devoted young, multiracial athletes, their senior year is the pinnacle of their lives - and each has a backstory - as does their embattled head coach Gary Gaines (Billy Bob Thornton). There's the great running back Boobie Miles (Derek Luke), troubled quarterback Mike Winchell (Lucas Black), Harvard-bound captain Brian Chavez (Jay Hernandez), motivating middle linebacker Ivory Christian (Lee Jackson), plucky third-stringer Chris Comer (Lee Thompson Young) and fumble-prone tailback Don Billingsley (Garrett Hedlund), the tortured, self-destructive son of a local legend (country singer Tim McGraw).

As the rabid adults live vicariously through their kids, the mania for football can tear families apart or hold them together. Adapted by David Aaron Cohen and Peter Berg from H.G. Bissinger's 1990 best-seller, and directed by Peter Berg, "Friday Night Lights" not only captures the exhilaration of the adrenaline-propelled gridiron action but also delineates how the intense pressures of these communal rites and rituals affect the pivotal characters - the obstacles to be overcome. Like "Hoosiers," "Miracle" and "Remember the Titans." Even the Coach's compelling half-time speech, defining perfection, rises above clichés. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Friday Night Lights" is an impressive, inspirational 8 - focusing on honor and integrity.

Copyright © 2004 Susan Granger

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