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GeoReview: Friday Night Lights
by Clayton Ruley

Football in most non-metro areas is big in the United States. This is especially true in Texas, California, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida. This movie directed by Peter Berg ( The Rundown )is based on a book by H.G. Bissinger and is about economically depressed town of Odessa, Texas and their high school Permian Tigers and hopes for a state title in 1988.


The cast is lead by Billy Bob Thornton (Sling Blade), Derek Luke (Antwone Fisher), Garrett Hedlund, (Troy) and Lucas Black (Cold Mountain) and newcomer country singer Tim McGraw (R.I.P. Tug!). Thornton plays Coach Gary Gaines, a man under tremendous pressure to lead his town's only claim to fame to the Promised Land. Luke plays his star running back Boobie Miles, a player destined to make it big, Hedlund plays Don Billingsley a young running back who lives in his dad's (played by McGraw) shadow on the field and Black plays Mike Winchell, the team's quarterback who struggles with the pressure.  


This movie takes the perspective of the town's people into account always showing how positive and negative the players and coaches are treated and the reactions to that treatment. Of course, some of the better parts of the movie are the game scenes where you get to relive your glory days on the high school field.   The action scenes are good and even better are the interactions between the players on the field. The off the field is good as well and lets you know the trouble you get into even on that level of football.   In the end there is an ending that surprise many but was probably justified.


The team really played a star role on this film and not one person blew me away but the interaction between McGraw and Hedlund's characters were very real because many can associate. The film is missing a lot of the details that made the book great but it's a good translation unless you want to see a five-hour movie. The DVD features include Tim McGraw: Off the Stage, Deleted Scenes, ãThe Story of the 1988 Permian Panthersä, and a player camera feature.   


I'll give the DVD 4 globes.

Any questions or comments please direct them to Clayton at


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