There are some memorable football movies there, but I can almost guarantee that there are only a few of that portray the game as real as Friday Night Lights does. This film, based on a book by Buzz Bissinger, is so good that not only was the movie successful, they made a five-season TV series based on the same story. I’ve never been a fan of Billy Bob Thornton, but I got to say one of his best performances is here as coach Gary Gaines. After bouncing around a handful of schools he finally finds a home in south Texas where the dream of the perfect season and state championship is all anyone cares about. The aspect I love the most is the movie doesn’t hold back on how serious the game means to the parents, kids, and old folks who still cling to every moment of the glory days.
Blood, sweat, and tears would be the best way to describe the action in the movie. Tim McGraw is brilliant here as the washed-up dad who puts so much pressure on his kid, that he’ll spend a part of the movie looking for his dad’s championship ring in the bushes on the side of the road. Then there is Boobie Miles (Derek Luke) who is probably the best player on the team, but after an injury destroys his playing time and future, has to regroup and face reality in several moments that could break your heart. Finally, there is star quarterback Mike Winchell (Lucas Black) who would do anything to leave town even though problems at home have him pulled in different directions.
The great thing about Friday Night Lights is it’s grounded and doesn’t create drama to entice the audience, it just lets the drama come naturally. Whether it’s the fans, the media, or the internal problems of the dressing room, everything just paints a beautiful mess of what life is really like for high school football players in Texas. The ending is real and doesn’t get the typical Hollywood ending that most people would expect. Even heroes in defeat should get glory too, sometimes it is not always about the heroes who win all the glory. 8/10