Friday Night Lights

7.21 h 57 min2004X-RayPG-13
Based on the true story of Permian, Texas, a town that lives and dies with its high school football team - and how players, coaches and families cope with the pressures of winning at all costs.
Richard LinklaterPeter Berg
Billy Bob ThorntonJay HernandezDerek Luke
English [CC]
Audio languages
EnglishEnglish [Audio Description]
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Supporting actors
Garrett HedlundLucas BlackTim McGrawConnie BrittonLee Thompson YoungLee JacksonGrover CoulsonConnie CooperKasey StevensRyanne DuzichAmber HeardMorgan Farris
Brian GrazerAlan J. Pakula
PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)
Content advisory
Alcohol usefoul languagesexual contentsmokingviolence
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4.7 out of 5 stars

3425 global ratings

  1. 81% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 11% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 5% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 1% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 2% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

JDW307Reviewed in the United States on June 17, 2019
5.0 out of 5 stars
Excellent movie. Worth watching.
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This story from Texas imitates my life. I played football all my life, forth to twelfth grade. Concussions in the seventh and tenth grade, torn MCL in the tenth grade, dislocated right shoulder in the eleventh grade. We to came so close to winning state. After 30 years I can still taste the sweat, blood and yes tears of those all moments on the field. And I wouldn't trade'em for the world! Going on to college was a huge deal in my family, I was the first. I'm so glad to see that those boys went on to further their life by doing so. But being an engineer, truck driver, insurance agent, surveyor, trash-man, lawyer, or whatever we do, ain't what makes a man or woman. It's what's in their heart that matters. How they live. How they treats others. And how they treats themselves. This movie is one of my favorite movies and I suggest all young men and women playing sports to watch this film.
10 people found this helpful
H. P.Reviewed in the United States on November 17, 2018
4.0 out of 5 stars
Sometimes it really is how you play the game.
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The Friday Night Lights book produced a great family drama, a very good high school movie (if you count Varsity Blues), and a very good sports movie. That final game!

The movie hews much closer to the basic facts of the book than the show. Maybe the TV show better captures its spirit, but the movie does benefit from the verisimilitude of reality. Who would come up with a coin toss to get into the playoffs?

Watch Varsity Blues or FNL and you might get the impression that Odessa is nestled in green, rolling hills. (Yes, Texas does have green and does have rolling hills.) But Odessa is past the green and the hills, past settled Texas, out in the ugly brown anvil of oil derrick-spotted west Texas. The Friday Night Lights production crew drove out of Austin and, unlike those other two, they kept driving all the way to Odessa. The real Ratliff stadium is more imposing than anything on Varsity Blues or FNL.

Featuring: A quarterback whose accent isn’t unintentionally hilarious (Texans don’t speak with southern accents, but it’s still better than whatever James Van Der Beek was doing). Tim McGraw, channeling his best Dwight Yoakam from Sling Blade. Jay Hernandez and Lee Jackson, who were a lot less excited to be cast as Brian Chavez and Ivory Christian after they read the script.

Three actors from the movie would return for FNL by my count. Brad Leland, who would reprise his role as a key booster, this time a little goofier and a little less sinister. Connie Britton, who would reprise her role as the coach’s wife, this time in a speaking role (only with a different coach at a different team). And Tim Crowley, a college football official who plays a ref in the state finals in the movie and one of the assistant coaches in the show (he is the one coach who follows Coach Taylor to East Dillon).

The runtime demands of a film means the story winds up heavily, heavily condensed. Only Boobie, Billingsley, and Mike Winchell get proper arcs. The story suffers from being squeezed into two hours, but Berg can say a lot with a few lingering shots—an early shot of little black boys wearing #45 jerseys chasing after Boobie contrasts with an injured Boobie watching a black man collect trash.

The comparison to Hoosiers: both tell a great (true) sports story, but both also show the dark side of a small town obsession with high school sports. This is fair, and enriches both works, as far as it goes. But if small towns have problems, those problems aren’t limited to football-mad towns with a rich tradition of success. My hometown has a lot of the same problems, and our high school football teams have more usually been wretched. And if Odessa (which isn’t really a small town) has particular problems of its own—and it surely does—it isn’t clear those problems are tied all that tightly to Permian football (or even at all). My thinking on this was changed to a degree by a feature included with the blu-ray on the true story. The feature includes footage from the 1988 season and, more relevant for our purposes, interviews with the real Winchell, Boobie, Billingsley, and Chavez (nobody cares about poor Jerrod McDougal). They come off as exceedingly . . . normal. I don’t know that they are any different from any other minute little average slice of America, only they have this one brilliant moment they can always treasure. The movie is perhaps a little over salutary, sure, but the book was very much the opposite. (Boobie and Chavez did wind up having legal trouble after the movie was made.)

Friday Night Lights improves on rewatch because it is so dang emotionally rich. You really feel for those kids. Perhaps because Friday Night Lights is the rare sports movie that doesn’t end in a victory. Sometimes it really is how you play the game.
5 people found this helpful
FrequentAmazonShopperpaloozaReviewed in the United States on June 23, 2019
2.0 out of 5 stars
Poor execution of a great story
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I read the book. It's fantastic...and I'm not even a huge football fan. I watched the TV series and thought, meh, it's nothing like the book, basically just an over-dramatic angst-y teenage soap opera. So I was looking forward to seeing the supposedly stellar movie, expecting that Billy Bob and a well-made movie would do justice to the book. Wrong! The movie's even worse than the TV series! The movie conveys absolutely none of the book's depth and subtlety and complexity. Zero. Billy Bob never had me convinced that he's a football coach, for as fine an actor as he usually is. And many of the characters in the movie are so loathesome (drunk dad, quarterback's mom, Booby, et al) that you kinda just want 'em to get hit by a truck or something. Read the book. Skip the movie and TV show.
5 people found this helpful
Eric WarrenReviewed in the United States on November 2, 2015
4.0 out of 5 stars
The glare of those lights...
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"Gritty" is kind of a cliched term, but that is really the best term to describe this excellent drama about the hard-core world of Texas high school football. It appears to be a true story -- as most of these well-done sports films are -- but that is really beside the point, at least while one is enjoying the top-notch writing, superb acting by all concerned, and the solid direction from Peter Berg. Basic storyline is the Odessa-Permian High School football team is accustomed to winning...and winning big. But when the new head coach arrives, played by one of my favorite actors, Billy Bob Thornton, it becomes immediately apparent that the level of expectations of parents, boosters etc. are very, very high. This is, after all, the West Texas team that has won three state championships. What starts out as a rah-rah football story quickly elevates into high human drama, when (and this is not a spoiler) the star running back suffers a career-ending injury. This plot twist sets up the true tension in the story - given that the team and offense are built around this guy, do they have any chance at all of winning, let alone making it to State and winning there. And, more importantly, is failure even an option. What a great set up for the marvelously precise side-stories that are so well told. The running back who seems invincible is suddenly brought crashing down to Earth. The so-so quarterback with the clingy mother has to step and actually excel at his position. The coach has to avoid losing not only the season, but his job as well. Great, great stuff, and Derek Luke, Garret Hedlund and Lucas Black are all superb. As is Tim McGraw, who seems to appear in a lot of films side by side with Thornton, usually playing a drunk father (think, Sling Blade, here). but McGraw really can act. Enjoy...
6 people found this helpful
Grandpa JimReviewed in the United States on August 29, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
Fantastic True Movie
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On my top ten list for true story movies. I had seen trailers on this movie and said I need to watch this someday. The story was so moving and well acted. Everyone needs to see this movie to understand what can conquer racism. Especially right now in our country.
3 people found this helpful
KathyReviewed in the United States on July 14, 2021
1.0 out of 5 stars
Not So Great
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After watching both the movie and the TV series I have to say the movie does not do a good job of developing the characters. It might be directing or script or both. Billy Bob is one of my favorite actors I have been watching Goliath and he is great in that but in Friday Night Lights his character is then really thin, I feel like we barely get to know him and you barely know he's married. Now on the series you get to know all of them very well. I don't like to criticize but this movie is thin and stiff and compared to the series it is quite awful
idontwnatapenameReviewed in the United States on April 15, 2012
3.0 out of 5 stars
This is an action movie. The action-drama TV series is much better.
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This is a movie about young people playing a sport under high expectations. The primary focus of the movie is the on-field performance, so it's an action movie with a dramatic twist. Artistically, the highest achievement of the movie was the instrumental soundtrack by the Texas band Explosions in the Sky (even if it's not original music from them; it was recycled from existing albums).

This movie could have been so much more.

(1) Wasted acresses: In the TV show, we find out that Connie Britton (who plays the coach's wife in both the TV show and this movie) is an exceptionally talented actress, but we only get a peek at her talent in the movie during the scene where she talks about escaping to Alaska. Similarly, Amber Heard (who was in this movie for about 1 minute as the topless girl on the couch) is now a leading female actress with serious talent.

(2) Not enough focus on high school social life: We play high school sports in large part for the girls. But other than the party scene near the beginning, we learn nothing about the challenges of high school relationships; the girlfriends have almost no impact on these guys' lives. The TV show turns the girlfriends, played by accomplished actresses Minka Kelly and Adrianne Palicki, into main characters and thoughtfully explores their impact on the game of football.

There are other things missing, but I understand that you can only cover so much ground in 2-hours. If the movie had traded some action scenes for drama scenes involving actresses, it would have been a much better film, instead of just an action movie.
One person found this helpful
KGReviewed in the United States on April 2, 2012
5.0 out of 5 stars
A terrific film about growing up and high-school football
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Almost everything works in this portrait of the madness for and around
high-school football in a small Texas town.

One of the best sports movies I've seen, largely because it's not really about
the sport, or the big game, or winning and losing. It's about growing up, letting
go of dreams, the pressure adults put on kids to fulfill their own dreams, losing
perspective and gaining it. It seems to try and honestly look at both sides of high
school football; how it helps young men grow, challenge themselves and bond,
but at the same time how it subjects them to physical harm, an unrealistic set of
expectations about life after being a local star, and being forced to carry a whole
town on your shoulders when you're only 17.

Some terrific visuals, both in the quick cutting ferocity of the games, and in the
long aerial views of the empty Texas plains.

It does cheat in a few moments, trying to have it's cake and eat it too - a few plot
lines are resolved a touch too easily or neatly, a few plot twists feel too familiar
from other films. And I understand those that say the film displays a superior
attitude towards these small town people. But I found those weaker moments
fleeting in a film that surprised me with the strength of it's acting, writing, and filmmaking.
3 people found this helpful
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