Thursday, October 14, 2004

Yeah, it's a bit Hollywood-glossed, and yeah, it gets the slightest bit too fist-pumping at times. Regardless, Friday Night Lights is an excellent film, particularly because it's not just about sports, but about the way that football emotionally impacts an entire west Texas town. There are plenty of one-the-field action scenes, sure, but there's also quite a bit of one-on-one dialogue in this film which gets to the heart of the way football affects the kids who play it, and the adults who watch. Billy Bob Thornton gives a bravura performance as coach Gary Gaines - really, though, you could expect that by now, right? What may surprise is the strong acting job done by Tim McGraw - yup, that Tim McGraw. He sinks his teeth into the role of Charlie Billingsley, a drunken, abusive shell of a father whose only glory in life was winning a Texas state championship years ago, and who now expects his son to do the same. And, and for those who thought/wondered if Antwone Fisher was a one-shot, Derek Luke gives what might be the most powerful performance in the film, as cocky BMOC Boobie Miles; the scene in which he understands that everything's changed for him, forever, is wrenching. Friday Night Lights also isn't afraid to show the dark, seamy underside of highschool sports. Where Hoosiers, the king of this genre, was pretty much all uplift, Lights gets its hands dirty, to the film's benefit. Even if you're not a sports fan, let alone a football fan, you'll likely find yourself cheering, and definitely find yourself getting involved in the lives of the film's characters (as my bf did, though his like of the film is much more subdued than mine). This one's a first-round draft pick, folks. A

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