Review: Friday Night Lights

Based on true events, this film follows one season of the Odessa-Permian Panthers Gridiron team, and their newly appointed coach Gaines (Billy Bob Thornton). Odessa, you see, is a town full of deadbeats, no-hopers, and coulda-beens whose only bright spot is their high school football team, and Coach Gaines is under enormous pressure to win, win, WIN AT ALL COSTS. Lucas Black is the brooding but unassuming quarterback who has an ill mother and designs on leaving Odessa forever, ASAP. Derek Luke plays the egotistical but talented star player, and Garrett Hedlund is the son of a former champion Odessa-Permian player turned volatile drunk (played by country star Tim McGraw, very believably too).

2004 Peter Berg (“Very Bad Things”, “Lone Survivor”, “Patriots Day”) gridiron drama has fine performances and seems fairly rooted in reality, but doesn’t offer much else in the way of originality or entertainment for the non-Gridiron loving person like me (it seems a perfectly acceptable 80 minute game stretched agonizingly to about 180 excruciating minutes that feel even longer!). It’s all too low-key and mopey for my liking, with really only two fully-realised characters (Thornton’s and Black’s).

I’m afraid there wasn’t a whole lot going on for me here, beyond the cast. It’s nice to see Thornton and his “Sling Blade” co-star Black together again, even if the results are much lesser this time around. One for the American sports nuts, I guess but I thought it was pretty formulaic and clichéd for the most part.

Rating: C+


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