Friday Night Lights (2004) Poster

User Reviews

Review this title
310 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
A sports movie worthy of non-sports people
trillian287 December 2004
Warning: Spoilers
This movie is not what you might expect. It is not your typical sports movie, where a disparate team comes together to triumph over adversity as the music swells with a dumb sense of pride. This is a movie about people, kind of like Seabiscuit that way, except less happy and with no horses.

This movie is about Odessa, a medium-sized town in Texas with no economy and nothing to do besides obsess about high school football. It is a town where they pay the football coach twice as much as their teachers, where a boy's best chance out is to get a football scholarship to a faraway college, and where these boys are under so much pressure to win because the town seems unable to succeed at anything else.

A movie like this depends on its actors, because it is a character drama at its core. Much noise has been made of Billy Bob, and how he gives a great performance, and this is very true, but he is not the only star in this movie. The boys all do a great job too, especially Lucas Black. I have never noticed this actor before, but he is so intense as Mike Winchell that he makes you really feel for him. The other boys, including Derek Luke and Jay Hernandez, are also note-perfect.

There is a great moment at the end, after their final game, when they talk about what they are going to do next. They haven't graduated yet, but it is already over for them. There is a sense that nothing else matters. Subtitles tell us what happens to everyone. It is sometimes funny, often tragic, and always ironic, and you leave the movie feeling like you've met some new people who are very real.
84 out of 109 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
The Real Varsity Blues
zatz-19 February 2005
This is a very dark sports movie. It's about fanaticism, the great weight of importance certain people place on sports. Sports fans often regard their teams as extensions of themselves. In "Friday Night Lights," the entire town of Odessa, Texas collectively puts their town's reputation on the shoulders of a high school football team. It's basically the same exact plot as "Varsity Blues," except a serious version of high school football in small town Texas.

One thing the movie does extremely well is taking hackneyed plots of the individual players (because it's all been done before) and putting them all in the background. So the plots play out not in a cheesy, inspirational, in-your-face way. Instead, they are just there with only as much attention as the viewer wants to put on them. The great aspects of sports are enough to keep us interested and makes the movie incredibly real.

The only character whose plot is really focused on is Boobie, the cocky running back who is injured and tries to defy his own injury. This is a plot in sports movies that has been focused on somewhat - the injured player. But never before has the pain been so real and so powerful.

This movie is heart-wrenching. Sports movies usually have so many moments of redemption and cheesy happiness that often feel false. This movie only has one such moment and it is incredibly powerful. Nothing about this movie is Hollywood. Billy Bob Thorton gives a great, understated performance as the coach, a man who is simply internal, who can do nothing but sit back and watch events unfold, knowing full well the impact that each game has on himself and his family. All the actors playing the football players do a good job, especially the guy who plays Boobie.

Don't expect this movie to uplift you. But it will show you an interesting side of sports you may have never considered. And, in the end, it shows exactly what is great about sports, and it has nothing to do with winning or making a career out of the game. It's about giving all you have for a teammate.
55 out of 77 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
The Best Sports movie ever made
espenshade5510 October 2004
This movie was phenomenal in every way. It had incredible performances under a great director with a fantastic story to back it up.

It tells the story of a high school football team in Texas through the course of their 1988 season. Billy Bob Thorton played the coach of the team and give the best performance I've ever seen him give. The film was directed by Peter Berg who gave it a unique film style. He managed to tell this story in a very beautiful way.

Tim McGraw gives a great debut performance of an ex-high school football player who has become the drunken abusive father of one of the players currently on the team. He was almost unrecodnizable in this role and he portrayed it well. He, and the rest of the cast for that matter deserve a lot of credit.

This is the only football film I have ever seen that has done justice to what it feels like to play football in high school. I played under Friday night lights myself, that time of my life ended just a year ago and it still holds fresh in my memory. And because of that I can tell you how accurately this film portray's the sense of brotherhood and friendship that is felt by every team, at least every good football team.

Whether you ever played under Friday night lights yourself or not anyone should be able to appreciate this film.
74 out of 109 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Excellent Look at a Small Town's Football Madness
jabell9 October 2004
To be honest, I went to this movie primarily to see Christian Kane, but the reviews had been excellent. I expected a cross between All the Right Moves and Remember the Titans, but it was nothing like the second, which was about two coaches forced to make their teams blend into one while avoiding racial problems. There were elements of All the Right Moves, though, as several of the young men expressed their desire to get out of Odessa through football, but the movie focused on several of them rather than just one. Its best companion piece in my opinion is the Texas Cheerleader Murder, which shows the same football madness from the other gender as they will do anything to be cheerleaders!

Billy Bob Thornton was excellent as the coach, facing pressure on all sides to win the state championship. An excellent touch was the large number of for sale signs on his lawn after his team was blown away in the game following Boobie's injury. The community put pressure on the boys as well, everyone who owned a state championship ring from prior years pushing them in the kids' faces. Tim McGraw was a revelation as Brian's abusive father, and the actress who was Mike Winchell's mother gave a brilliant performance.

All of the young actors were excellent, especially Derek Luke as the unfortunate Boobie. He made the audience feel his pain and frustration. Lucas Black, who had done such a marvelous job in American Gothic, has a face that reflects his pain as he faces all of his tribulations, which include the pressure of suddenly becoming the team's best hope when Boobie is out and of having a mother with mental and/or emotional problems. Every one of them is a gem.

The cinematography was outstanding, and the shots of the town and the bleak surroundings certainly demonstrated why the kids wanted to get away. Despair hung in the air, with people clinging to their moments of glory as the only happy days of their entire lives. This was its primary likeness to All the Right Moves, although the hated home town was a Pennsylvania steel town (Johnstown, PA, which I escaped from myself), not a Texas prairie city.

And what made things even more intense was that this was a true story. Showing the boys' fates at the end was an excellent conclusion.

And Christian Kane? I knew he only had a cameo, as he had told Peter Berg that he'd love to be in the movie and would take any part there was. He was the man in the restaurant/bar who asked Mike Winchell if he'd take a picture with him & his kid. He was long-haired, unshaven, and, to be honest, if I'd seen him this way first, I'd never have given him a second look. He did a good job as a "good ole boy," though!
50 out of 78 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A review by a football player
pulpface21 February 2005
"Gentlemen. The hopes and dreams of an entire town are riding on your shoulders. You may never matter more than you do right now. It's time."—Coach Gary Carter addressing his team.

For years, the Buzz Bissinger's book "Friday Nights Lights" has been proclaimed as the greatest football book ever written. The story is about the 1988 Permian Panthers from Odessa, Texas. In the book, Bissinger illustrates how much high school football effects a town in West Texas that has basically nothing to live for. Almost everyone in Odessa is poor, train tracks divide the town the white and black communities and the school system is below average, yet on Friday Nights (as the tag-line of the movie says) "Hope comes alive".

The thing that I like most about the movie was the it didn't go away from the book too much and the movie tried to imply the same themes as the book did. Anyway, let's get to the actual movie now.

Unlike most sports movies where the viewer is spending about two-thirds of the movie trying to figure out who all the characters are, "Lights" actually does a good job in identifying all the characters. For example, you will know who "Boobie" Miles is (the Panthers' star running back) right when the movie starts. Another unique thing about "Lights" is that when watching, it feels like the viewer is watching a documentary, because movie does a great job on including detail on the attitude the town and players carry throughout the story and highlights from EVERY game are shown (something that never happens in sports movies).

The characters in "Lights" make the movie great, especially "Boobie" Miles (played by Derek Luke). Boobie is not only the best runner on the team, he is probably the best running back in the state. On one play, he broke three tackles and burned two other defenders. The only thing that faster than his legs is...his mouth. He makes Terrell Owens and Freddie Mitchell look modest. Whenever a member of the media talks to him, he proclaims that he is God gift to football and how God made Boobie beautiful and all that junk. When asked about his grades he replies "I'm an athlete, I make straight A's". Boobie is obviously not smart, when he was reading one of his recruitment letters from the University of Southern California, he sounded like a five-year old. Football and his uncle L.V. are the only two things that Boobie has going for him.

The main character of the movie is Coach Gary Carter (played by Billie Bob Thornton). Coach Carter's job is not an easy one. Throughout the movie, he is constantly bugged by boosters and supports telling him that he should imply this scheme or this player should play this position, Coach Carter just ignores them, but he knows that expectations are very high in Odessa (especially if they are the favorites to go the Texas Bowl).

Another character(s) that make the movie great is Don Billingsley (played by Garrett Hedlund) and his father Charles (played by country superstar Tim McGraw). Don probably feels the pressure of playing for the Panthers more than anyone because his dad as on a state championship team for the Panthers and his dad is also an alcoholic. During the first practice of the season when Don fumbled the ball, Charles came running out of the stands and when yelling at his son about "some little fumble". Don is ashamed by his father which is why he probably the biggest playboy on the team as well. However, Don is one tough kid (as evident in the final game).

Football is the only thing that Odessa cares about, after a loss a person calls-in a local radio station to say "there's too much learning going on at that school!" On Friday Nights, all the businesses are closed, the Ratliff Stadium (where the Panthers play) is packed an hour before kickoff and everyone is wearing black and white.

The game scenes are the best part of the movie. Some of the hits are so hard, it would put Terry Tate to shame, especially in the final game of the story. That game scene was the best I have ever saw because it captured everything that goes on during a football game (trash talk, adjustments, dirty play, emotion, etc.) Where does Friday Night Lights among football movies? Personally, I think it's the best football movie of all time. I have played football for nine years and I have seen about every single football movie ever made and I will have to say that this film truly captures what football REALLY is. If you are a sports fan, you will love this movie.

GRADE: 9.5 out of 10.

FOOTBALL GRADE: TOUCHDOWN with the 2-point conversion
55 out of 96 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Not so good
captain_astronaut27 February 2005
Warning: Spoilers
The problem with Friday Night Lights is that the filmmakers let technique get in the way of story telling. Peter Berg employed the same camera style he used on his failed show Wonderland. Multiple hand held cameras constantly shaking around with short snap zooms. It becomes annoying and takes me out of the moment I want to pay attention to. I didn't care about any of these people, because I wasn't sure who I was looking at or supposed to pay attention to. I didn't know Billy Bob had a daughter until an hour and 17 minutes into the movie. Is that important? Probably not, but she was there to deliver a line about the family needing to move again. I didn't care, because I didn't know anything about his family. Either stick with the main characters and main story or figure a way to fit it all in with out annoying technique. Miracle is a good example of a successful sports movie making. It was not gimmicky and we followed a lot more people. It didn't jump up and down and say "Look how clever I am!" I'm also displeased that the story was changed from the semi-finals to the finals. Can the audience only enjoy the movie if the team is playing the big game? Reality and truth can be a lot more interesting than pandering if you have skilled writing and directing. I like Peter Berg as an actor, but he still doesn't impress me as a film maker.
17 out of 27 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
An incomplete pass
hoodcsa17 October 2006
Warning: Spoilers
There are some nice touches here, things like the idiots calling in on the radio shows and "for sale" signs on the family's lawn after a loss. But overall I was disappointed. I haven't read the book so I don't know how to compare it with the film, but on its on the movie left me flat. Billy Bob underplays his part nicely, but I NEVER got a sense that this was a veteran high school football coach at one of the more high pressure, high profile programs in Texas. I love that actor who played the QB, but again never saw him as a player of the caliber he was supposed to be. Mostly, he just screwed up. The way Permian suddenly started playing well in the playoffs didn't make any sense. The assistant coaches were non-entities (as they almost always are in football movies.) Would a high school coach not check with a star player's doctor himself if there was an injury question? The flashy black tailback (Booby) and the quiet but powerful black lineman (Preacher) are almost stock characters, though both are well acted. Actually the most interesting character was the Hispanic defensive back, but the movie didn't do anything with him. The climactic game was highly dubious. It's hard to imagine a team being that physically dominant and then suddenly getting pounded for the last two quarters, Again, I didn't read the book, but the movie overplayed Carter's viciousness. Don't refs in Texas throw flags for that stuff? There were more things in this film I liked and more I disliked, but overall it was a disappointment. The great high school football movie remains to be made. I guess I'll have to write it myself.
18 out of 29 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Some Historical Faults, but none the less, a very good movie
ShadowGldtr4 February 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Spoilers included Yes I know that there are many flaws in the movie. Bobbie was actually hurt in a scrimmage, Ivory was actually a linebacker, Chavez was a tight end, and Don's dad was actually not abusive as it was portrayed. Also, some equipment that was shown was introduced in 2003 way before the Permain saga began.

BUT, i forgave all that. You don't watch a movie to be nit picky, you watch it to be entertained and entertained you will be. This is the best football movie since Remember the Titans. The basic story is in a 1988 Odessa, Texas, their High School team, the Permian Panthers were looked to win the State Championship in division 5A which is one great accomplishment. The story is told through a gritty view of the whole Texas Football Culture.

It shows how real Texas towns act. Every Friday night, the boys suit up and the lights go on. Everyone comes and cheers on your team, and people get drilled on the field. That IS what Texas HS Football is. It's a religion. I especially loved the segment on the preseason because it does show what it looks like to be on the "team". I do wished they showed the two a days. The games themselves are very well done as they do use the jersey's and fields for the teams. I did like that. I also liked the story about Chavez being the only one who could get out of Odessa because that is how some of these small towns are(I know Odessa isn't small but bear with me). You have to be very athletic and very smart to get out of them. Also, Ivory Christian character did stay to the source material as he was very shy. Boobie was a boaster and Michael was one of those types of people. I thought Billy Bob did a great job as the coach.

Now onto what i didn't like. I didn't like how they made the State Championship West vs East because it's actually North vs South. Also, the whole fight between Don Billegnsly's dad and him was way to melodramatic and did take time. Also, Michael's mom was kinda of too cheerful for someone who was suppose to be very sick. Especially during the championship game.

Over all, i loved this movie, but I can see why some might not like it. i still highly recommend it.
17 out of 28 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
I played West Texas Football, NCAA, and NFL
scottstevo4 January 2006
I am not a professional movie reviewer. And I did not play for Permian.

I have seen many great high school football movies including Remember the Titans, All The Right Moves, Radio, Varsity Blues and others and there is nothing better than non-fiction. My high school coach made us read this book during summer ball and I can honestly state that this is what West Texas High School Football is all about. No matter what the "Movie Review Nerds" say, this is great story. Watch it, watch it again and buy the DVD for your kids. Teach these values to your kids. Forget about preconceived notions about the actors.

39 out of 74 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Friday Night Explosions in the Lights
andrewCmcauliffe5 February 2006
When I first heard of this movie, I immediately let it go under my radar because I am not a big fan of sports movies. However, I am a huge fan of the Texas band Explosions in the Sky and when I heard a few months ago that they scored most of the soundtrack for Friday Night Lights, it was compulsory that I check it out.

It turns out that I freaking love this movie. The cinematography is nicely done, comprising wide, sweeping shots of Texas plains, oil-rigs, and football fields. The colors come through nicely (the white and black of the jerseys is particularly nice). As I already mentioned, I am not a big sports fan, but from what I could tell, the football sequences were well done and quite intense.

The acting is superbly executed by most in the film. However, there are still one or two times when one of the players' lines is delivered with that all-too-well-known teen-acting cheesiness that almost makes me cringe a little. Those times aside, the acting works wonderfully.

As I already mentioned, the reason why I initially watched this movie, was because Explosions in the Sky did the score. In my opinion, every song that they wrote (or adapted from previously written songs) for this movie lends beautifully to the content. Their lush soundscapes play nicely alongside the beautiful fields of Texas (no surprise, since TX is their home). Their crescendo-laden rock happens also to fit perfectly with slow-motion sequences (which there are plenty of in Friday Night Lights).

I am sure that almost all of the other reviews here have touched on the fact that this football movie does not play like other football movies (with all of the regular sport movie clichés). Because of this, I won't go into that. My thoughts are, if you like football (and also enjoy genuinely good cinema) OR if you aren't really a big fan of football (and also enjoy genuinely good cinema), you will probably dig Friday Night Lights.

So go and buy the DVD; and while you are at the store, pick up an Explosions in the Sky CD.
6 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
One hell of a sports cliché fest
mmckaibab12 February 2005
Warning: Spoilers
***Spoilers below***

For the life of me I don't understand how so many folks are so ga-ga over this turkey. For me this was a complete snooze-fest until around half-way through when it got entertaining simply because it was so much fun counting up all the old, tired sports clichés they managed to cram into it.

1. First, there's the setting: small-town, nowheresville Odessa, where high school football is the True Religion, all the kids are desperate to get out, and the football players are the local Gods who get all the free food, booze and sex they want. And, oh yes, there are also the Beautiful Sunset Shots and the Soaring Aerial Views of parts of the town, especially the football field, that tip us off to the fact that something beautiful is really going on under this bleak surface.

2. There's the troubled quarterback with the single mom (who may be seriously ill). Early in the season he's a pretty mediocre player but, when adversity strikes, he steps up and becomes the team leader with skills only slightly less impressive than Troy Aikman's.

3. There's the kid abused by his father and his father's athletic dreams who also, when everything is on the line, suddenly becomes one of the team's stars. He also gets to listen to his father, in a fit of remorse, lecture him on making the most of his senior year because it's all downhill from there and these are the best memories he'll ever have.

4. There's the strutting minority star player with dreams of riding his athleticism to fame and fortune who suffers a serious injury, tries to come back too soon (through the negligent inaction of his coach and his beloved father-figure Uncle), and has his career ended. To drive the point home, the film-makers show us the star sitting dejectedly after his injury watching a group of trash collectors going about their jobs.

5. There's the solid, silent defensive star who has spoken hardly a word, but during half-time of the Big Game he suddenly gives the inspirational speech that fires up the team.

6. There's the calm coach in the center of the storm who, again during half-time of the Big Game, gives the "it's not about the scoreboard, it's all about what's in your heart, it's all about love, and you're all winners" speech. This despite the fact that he has previously (and negligently) ignored what he really knows about his star's serious injury and allows him to play because he wants to win so badly.

**Spoiler follows**

7. Then there's the Big Game itself in which Our Heroic Team gets pummeled by the Bad Guys (including flagrant fouls and one incredibly bad officiating call that make the crisis even worse)in the first half only to suddenly find a way to claw their way back (with accompanying swelling music) to one final last-second try that gloriously fails. Then, for the next several minutes we watch in slow motion shot after shot (from different angles of course) of the stars kneeling in noble defeat next to that football just a few agonizing inches from the goal line.

Then there are the Big Steals from Hoosiers:

1. The "Davids" from Odessa end up in the Big Game playing the "Goliaths" from Dallas Carter.

2. The entire town of Odessa apparently closes down and the entire populace drives across the state of Texas in a long convoy.

3. The "I love you guys" speech transplanted from the coach to the troubled quarterback.

Unless you're looking for a primer on how NOT to make a unique sports film, I'd suggest you avoid this turkey.
22 out of 40 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Nothing Like the book
Scottiep5220 January 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I read the book before seeing the movie. And i must say the book was ten times better than the movie. The movie never captured the emotion of the book. And the movie didn't delve into the issues outside of football such as education and whatnot. All in all i was pretty disappointed in the movie. And the team never did make the finals they lost in the semi finals to a team that survived their star players flunking out. Ivory Christian and Brian Chavez were not really identified with. The story was mostly about Winchell Billingsley and Boobie. What about Ivory and Chavez? If your going to make a movie about a book at least try and have some similairties with it. The game wasn't played in the Astrodome either!!! The game was played on a rainy day at the University of Texas.

7 out of 10 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Excessive Camera Movement = Bad
kalvinr1113 September 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I honestly expected more from this movie. That may have been the problem. There was not one time when the camera was still - ever. On close ups, the camera shakes, the subjects move, and I get a headache. The cuts are so often and so fast, that the viewer often finds himself/herself wondering what just happened. (LOOK OUT, SPOILER ALERT) And at the end of the movie, when you expect to have a happy ending after being put through so much useless thought to comprehend what is going on, they end up losing. To me, this was a basically terrible movie, wrecked by a camera man with ADHD, and lack of a meaningful meaningful plot.
16 out of 28 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
This movie sucked.
mistresskiki10 February 2005
Warning: Spoilers
It was full of plot holes, inaccuracies (doesn't the time-clock stop for injured players or loss of helmets in Texas football games?) and not so much redemption (So Your Dad Beats the Crap out of You? Well, do something right for once and then he will Love You and make it all worthwhile).

Either make the movie about a team and its quest for a championship OR make a movie about a player within a team and his personal struggle but instead, this movie tried to do it all and came up more than a couple yards short. The book probably showed the whole story much better; the movie should have picked one element of the story and stuck with that.

Instead, the movie jumped from one character dialogue to flashes of game play and then another character dialogue months later without actually telling you who people were or why they were important--the QB calling his sibling to take care of the mother--whatever happened with that? Because the mother was coherent by the end of the final game, does that mean she's not crazy anymore? Its one redeeming quality was the soundtrack. Buy that and then watch SportsCenter highlights while Iggy Pop plays in the background.
22 out of 41 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Decent for what it is, bit no new ground broken here
Denver5316 March 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Ever watched a movie that was technically very good, with fine performances by the actors, but which contained no surprise and even was filled with plot twists you just knew were coming? That's Friday Night Lights.

The movie is put together well. Billy Bob Thornton is very good, as are most of the other actors. There is some confusion that isn't explained when the football team does well or poorly with and without a key player ... is the movie saying that at first the team struggled, but then grew as a team and later was better without him? It isn't clear. But otherwise, everything moves along pretty well.

Minor spoilers - The problem is, we have all seen this before. Small town in which many adult residents overly focus on the local high school football team. Players under intense pressure as a result. Coach who faces comments everywhere he goes about how the team is doing or will do. Even a father trying to relive his life through his son. It has all been done. Nothing in this movie was a surprise. There is a mild one at the end to avoid total cliché.

I expected the movie to be stronger, but instead I felt like I was watching the son of "All the Right Moves" or cousin of "Radio." We gave it a 6.
4 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Adequate Football film, but generic and disappointing.
dmc42c6 September 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I have to say first of all that I had high expectations for this movie. I heard it was supposed to be a very realistic film about high school football. Having heard that, I had in mind a high school equivalent of a movie like Any Given Sunday, which I felt was amazing in representing on-field play and (I imagine) very good about off-the-field goings on. I must say that FNL didn't represent High School football the way I remember it. I played for a fairly small school (about 500 students) in a small but supportive town of 6000. I remember we had about 2000 spectators for one game. The kind of football represented in Friday Night Lights is the kind that may be authentic for the large and rabid Texas town in which it is set, but a brand which seems to me closer to college football than the high school football that I and probably most others remember playing.

I think the weakest part of the movie was the character development. By the end, you could tell that certain players were supposed to have been main characters, but yet you're left with a very empty and superficial understanding of who they are. For example, there was one character (who I won't name to avoid any kind of spoiler) who we find out in text at the end went on to a very prestigious profession, and yet we had been left with no particular impression that he was smart or ambitious from the movie to that point. In fact, I felt that I knew almost nothing about the character at all. I did feel a connection to one character, Don Billingsly, although I thought even that was a bit underdone, and to the quarterback Mike Winchell to a lesser extent.

The on-field and other football aspects of the film were alright, although I think a bit generic. They are not particularly inspired though, and don't convey the raw emotion and excitement of being on the field particularly well. I don't know, but I am left to suspect that the director and/or cinematographer may not have experienced high school football themselves.

All that being said, it was still a decent movie. I don't feel I wasted my time in watching it or anything, but it certainly did fall short of expectations, and certainly is not of the same caliber as Any Given Sunday, or even The Program.
12 out of 21 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
"Over the Top" Directing Detracts Strongly
chron24 May 2005
I rented this movie primarily on the strengths of Billy Bob Thornton. I think he takes on consistently good roles. This movie had a lot to offer in terms of plot. Rural Texas is big on football, often more so than on academics. The plot point came out in the movie, but seemed to be glossed over to a large degree.

One of the subplots also deals with the relationship between a father, a past high school football champ, and his son who has the opportunity to become a state champ. It is a contentious relationship, but the movie failed to explore that relationship beyond a superficial level.

Perhaps the greatest distraction in this film is the awful directing by Peter Berg of the football action sequences. They were very unrealistic and "over the top" so that they seemed more like a John Madden video game than a high school football game.

The acting was good and the plot was sufficient to prevent this from being a truly horrible film. If you are a sports movie fan, there is a likelihood that you will like this movie much better than I did. However, I was expecting a little more realism and a little more character depth than I saw in this movie.
13 out of 24 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
anonymous1231 December 2004
Warning: Spoilers
This movie was very disappointing in that several elements of the book were wrongly done. The main story is the same but there are several flaws that hurt the movie.

1) Boobie Miles gets injured in the beginning of the story in a preseason game at Texas Tech. This means he won't get anything done during the season at all and Chris Comer comes up sooner on the team.

2) The game against Marshall was lost at Marshall. The team depicted as Marshall was actually Midland High one of Permian's main rivals and here is the proof- Marshall High is the Mavericks colored Scarlet and Silver, Midland High is the Bulldogs colored Purple and Gold. Look at the jerseys and you will see who it is. Also the real Marshall High's football roster is overwhelmingly Black, the team shown was racially mixed like Midland High.

3) Permian only loses to Midland Lee by one point in district play. Midland Lee loses to Midland High and Midland High loses to Permian. These are the teams that set up the coin toss as such.

4) Boobie comes back on the team as a reserve to Chris Comer and after not getting any playing time in the Midland Lee game, he quits the team completely at half time and never stands on the sideline or goes to any games again.

5) Brian Chavez was a Tight End and Defensive End who wore #85 not a Tight End and Strong Safety. In addition, Boobie wore #35 and Ivory Christian wore #62.

6) The coaches end up liking Chris Comer as a player more than Boobie because he has a better lifting ethic and runs more straight up plays the way the staff prefers him too, this is in part why Boobie quits the team.

7) Dallas Carter is played in Austin at Darrell K. Royal Memorial stadium where UT plays in the state semi-finals not the state finals. Carter wins the state title but is forced to forfeit due to an ineligible player.

The acting is done pretty well but if you read the book, you will see these flaws are pretty true. I am also tired of hearing all the PC hypocrites out there complain about the depiction of Dallas Carter's football team. The team according to the book is as large, monstrous, talented, and black as the movie shows. People say it is a racist depiction but reading the book, you see a true depiction of the team. The story is very altered giving this movie a score of 3.5/10.
13 out of 24 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Don't understand the hype
Gembird2218 September 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I just saw this movie last night, and after reading all the reviews I expected a good, emotional sports film. What I got was something clichéd and boring. Yes, I thought it was boring. I saw the all-star getting hurt long before the game. I figured maybe they'd wait for him to collapse until, ya know, the game before the "big one" but I guess the first game is good enough.

The parental relationships were also very clichéd, with the dominating drunk father (I will say McGraw impressed me, however), and the boy who wants to stay and help his (ailing?) mother.

I especially liked the random girls (Melissa and Maria) who were in the movie for all of 5 minutes, and placed there simply to get the football boys some action off the field. I thought "ok, now how does this work into the plot again?" Maybe I missed the point, beyond "Well they play football in a town that loves it so the girls throw themselves at their feet" point.

The sports action had some good points, but most of it was so rushed! I think the first game lasted longer than the montage of the entire playoffs! And I wasn't so sure about the continuity of the winding-down clock in the final game.

I guess I could see this movie winning the ESPY for best sports film if it was the only one released. Honestly though, I found it to be a boring movie full of people sickeningly-obsessed with the pigskin. For a better football film, see Remember the Titans.
13 out of 25 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Rack Focus is out of bounds
marcvarr6 March 2005
The reason Varsity Blues is so much like Friday Night Lights is b/c VB is a fictional story which was written 10 years after the true story of FNL took place in Odessa, TX in 1988.

The game faces worn by the players in FNL are genuine. The "Religion" of High School Football gave them no other choice. H.G. Bissinger spent almost an entire year with his family in 1988 in Odessa, TX. He essentially became a part of the community and team in documenting and then writing his book Friday Night Lights. He said that due to depressed economic conditions, lack of higher education, and good paying jobs, the communities in West Texas looked upon the high school football programs as saviors from reality.
14 out of 28 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Not as good as the book.
Paige-223 January 2005
I just don't see how anyone who didn't read the book could follow the story at all. The book was so watered down, and the story is almost unrecognizable. We saw precious little of Booby Miles' complexity or the pressures around him over which he had no control. We saw almost nothing of Chavez, one of the very few players who actually made something of himself, or what effect the high school football experience had on his success in life. And the other players ... their personal lives were so affected by what happened that single season, and it was pretty much ignored. There was so much background about the frenzy that Mojo generated (and still generates) in Odessa that just wasn't shown.

That being said, I can see why the people in Odessa so disapproved of the book and loved the movie. The movie doesn't show the rather affectionate, yet unflattering picture that Buzz Bissinger painted of the town. Instead, it only showed the stereotypical hype of small town football. After seeing the movie, PLEASE do yourself a favor and read the book.
14 out of 28 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Motion Sickness
heavenlyrider29 October 2004
I had to leave the theater, just over half way through it. The film was shot poorly, and the so called in game effect, literally made me sick. I wasn't the only one effected by it, during the film, I witnessed at least 4 people get up and leave. Weather they went for drinks or bathroom breaks, seems unethical. My husband was also another one effected by the movement of the camera, he didn't get sick. He only, thankfully, received a migraine. Non the less, a movie should not be made to make you sick unless its a horror film. Thats my opinion any how. I've never really been a fan of football films, and this movie not only reminded me why I've never liked or appreciated them, but it reassured me, that I still don't care for them. There is however 1 football film that I have managed to watch and enjoy, and of course, that would be none other than Varsity Blues.

Thank you for you time.
13 out of 26 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Was a joke to claim this movie was based on a true story
FMRBPNOWICE24 January 2005
Watched the movie over 15 years after reading the book. As I watched the movie, I kept on thinking, "This wasn't how I remembered it in the book." I went back to the book and noticed the following inaccuracies:

1. In the movie it was stated that it was Coach Gaine's 2nd season. In the book/real life it was his 3rd season as head coach.

2. In the movie it was stated that Coach Gaine's salary was 60k. In the book/real life it was 48k. This is a prime example of how poor a job that the producers did with this movie that they couldn't even get straight how long the coach had been there and what his salary was.

3. In the movie they showed the team practicing at Ratliff stadium. In the book/real life they practiced at the high school.

4. In the movie the star running back Boobie Miles suffered a knee injury in the 1st game. In the book Friday Night Lights/real life he injured his knee in a scrimmage.

5. In the movie Permian was shown losing their 2nd game to Abilene Cooper 49-7. In the book/real life the Permian school district chartered a 737 jet to fly the team 530 miles east to play East Texas power Marshall. Permian lost the game by 1 point.

6. In the movie Permian is shown losing to rival Midland Lee by a touchdown. In the book/real life they lost to Midland Lee by 1 point.

7. In the movie Permian finished the regular season with 2 district losses and in a 3 way tie for the conference title with Midland Lee & Cooper Abilene. In the book/real life Permian finished the regular season with one district loss in a 3 way tie with Midland Lee and Midland.

8. In the movie a 5 round, 32 team playoff bracket was shown. In the book/real life there was a 6 round/64 team playoff bracket.

9. In the movie Permian was shown defeating Dallas Jesuit in the 1st round of the playoffs. In the book/real life they beat Amarillo Tascosa in the 1st round of the playoffs.

10. In the movie Permian was shown beating San Angelo in the second round of the playoffs. In the book/real life they beat San Angelo in the last game of the regular season, and beat the Andress Eagles in the second round of the playoffs.

11. In the movie Permian was shown beating Amarillo in the 4th round of the playoffs (again, they beat Amarillo in the 1st round in the book/real life). In the book/real life the beat the Lamar Vikings in the 4th round of the playoffs. The only playoff game that was portrayed accurately was the 3rd round win over the Irving Nimitz Vikings.

12. The movie showed Permian losing to Dallas Carter 34-26 in the 5th round of the playoffs, the state championship. In the book/real life Permian lost to Dallas Carter 14-9 in the 5th round of the playoffs, the state semifinals. The movie portrayed Permian being stopped on the 1 foot line with no time left. In the book/real life the game ended on an incomplete pass.

13. The movie showed Permian and Dallas Carter officials meeting in Midland deciding where to play the game, agreeing to play the game in the Houston Astrodome. In the book/real life they agreed to play the game at the Univ of Texas Stadium in Austin.

14. The movie showed the star running back who was hurt at the beginning of the movie, Boobie Miles, quitting the team and then rejoining the team for the trip to play Dallas Carter to cheer the team on, showing him forming a special bond with his teammates. In the book/real life, Miles quit the team, never rejoined it, and listened to the game on the radio back in Odessa.

15. The movie portrayed one team captain, Ivory Christian, as a defensive end. In the book/real life he was a linebacker.

16. The movie portrayed another team captain, Chavez, as a defensive back. In the book/real life he was a tight end.

There are numerous other examples of inaccuracies in the movie and erroneous portrayals of what actually occurred in the book/real life. Some of the other posters have already commented on many of them. In addition the movie used a bunch of actors obviously in their mid 20s to portray the Permian players. The Dallas Carter players in the movie all appeared to be in their 20s and 30s. These high school players in real life were mostly 16-17 years old. It looks ridiculous to have actors in their 20s and 30s playing a bunch of 16-17 year olds. The movie portrays Odessa as a small town. Its not- its a city of 100,000. And anyone on here who refers to Odessa as a small town is completely ignorant to the fact its not. The movie also overly and negatively stereotyped the citizens of Odessa as a bunch of ignorant, racist rednecks. That's typical stereotyping by Hollywood liberals of small city folks and southerners. Some of the real people portrayed in the movie probably even have grounds for defamation of character lawsuits.

Its a joke that this movie was called based on a true story, and this is coming from someone who lived in small city Texas for several years and followed Texas high school football. It should have been called what it was-a mostly fictional movie. The movie was typical Hollywood garbage. As usual, whenever Hollywood tries to make a movie based on a true event, they always intentionally and unintentionally get their facts wrong, alter events, and make up stuff that didn't happen. Its not worth even paying $4-5 to rent from Blockbuster. The book, on the other hand, is worth the read.
12 out of 24 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
This is what highschool football is all about
OriginalMovieBuff2110 October 2004
Friday Night Lights is a very realistic portrayal of highschool Texas football. I just saw this movie 3 hours ago with my whole family and I couldn't have seen a much more realistic football film that this. The acting was great especially by Billy Bob Thornton and my favorite character in the film was that number 90 guy named Christian, also know as the "Preacher." He was excellent and he couldn't of done any better. The music especially was excellent and so good by Explosions in the Sky. The guitar playing is brilliant! There might of been some messups in the movie from the book but this film is excellent. It is the 2nd best football film, close to #1 Rudy, but this one of the best football films ever made. I highly recommend it because this film is really touching and realistic.

Hedeen's outlook: 9.5/10 **** A
14 out of 29 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Blah Blah Blah
hexlub8 October 2004
I always think you lose something when you turn a non-fictional account into a 'loosely based' film. This story would have been much better served as a documentary. You know what you are seeing actually happened for the most part, but somehow you are not truly sold. 'Seabiscuit' had the same problem. Though 'Seabiscuit' was actually watchable in my opinion.

Character development seemed quite forced (i.e. - this guy is the quiet guy, this guy is the loudmouth, this guy is the one who wants to leave but is tied to home). The story seemed to drag on. The game scenes were well shot. Most of the movie was well done but unfortunately, the script and general story were not.

Pleasant surprise was Tim McGraw. Though his character was pretty one-dimensional, he did not seem out of place. Perhaps using some of his own experiences as a model.

Anyway, while I am not upset I saw this film, I do not think I would have been upset if I had not. The last twenty minutes are so were quite enjoyable to see in the theater environment (people were actually cheering and applauding). All in all I can see myself watching this on TNT some Saturday afternoon when I long for my memories of playing high school football. But I could not see myself shelling out $10 to see it in a theater.
9 out of 17 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews

Recently Viewed