‘Lights’ a touchdown for Thornton, McGraw

By on October 27, 2004

“HUT ONE, HUT TWO, HUT THREE” is the usual wakeup call for all football players and fans. Though football may not be a main priority to some people in this world, (which may be difficult to find) Director Peter Berg takes audiences on a rollercoaster ride through the tackles and touchdowns on and off the field in “Friday Night Lights.”

“Friday Night Lights” is set in Odessa, a west Texas town, where football is considered king and the Permian High Panthers its royal subjects. Based on H.G. Bissinger’s 1990 non-fiction book, “Friday Night Lights” gives an accurate portrayal of the Permian High Panthers 1988 football season.

Though “Friday Night Lights” offers amazing football footage with handheld cameras, nothing shines more in the movie than the cast and their hit and misses on and off the field. Permian High Panthers football star Boobie Miles (Derek Luke) injures his knee at the beginning of the season and tries desperately to get back on the field where he belongs. Mike Winchell (Lucas Black) the Panthers’ quarterback tries to deal with the demands of his position while taking care of a sick mother at home. Don Billingsley (Garrett Hedlund), whose goal for the season is to just catch the football and cross the 100 yard line, has to confront the expectations bestowed upon him from an abusive, alcoholic father played by country singer Tim McGraw.

With pressures and expectations from the community of the small Texas town, the Panthers seek guidance from their often rough around the edges Coach Gary Gaines played by Academy Award winner Billy Bob Thornton. Coach Gaines is constantly pushing his players to succeed and to be the best that they can be on the field and in life. From pushing drills to giving valuable lessons in life to his players, Thornton reminds his boys to always believe in themselves and to remember to live on the football field not as individuals, but as one.

To elaborate on the importance of the players and the public’s expectations of them, cinematographer Tobias A. Schliesser turned up the tension on the football field with the use of handheld cameras. The handheld cameras were able to put the audience where the actors were, either by pushing an opposing lineman out of the way or running down the field as someone scored a touchdown. Audiences feel that they are a part of the action on the rough, hard field.

“Friday Night Lights” offers the best feature a sports movie includes: team unity, personal struggles on and off the field and defeat and triumph. “Friday Night Lights” is fit for any type of person, whether you enjoy sports or not and will make anyone come out of the theater feel as if they themselves have scored a touchdown.


About Anne Wrobel