Billy Bob Thornton, Lucas Black, Garrett Hedlund, Derek Luke, Jay Hernandez, Lee Jackson, Lee Thompson Young, Grover Coulson and Connie Britton

Peter Berg

Running Time:
118 mins

Out to buy on DVD 29/08/05

"We're going to win State"

1988 and the town of Odessa, Texas prepares for another season for the Permian High Panthers, the 'Mojo'. Coach Gary Gaines (Thornton) has been employed to bring the state championship back to the town and is been paid more than anyone else on the teaching staff, so the pressure is on. For the players this could be the defining year of their young lives, as the economically depressed Odessa doesn't have much else to offer.

Sports movies tend to be the same and extremely predictable but 'Friday Night Lights' is something different.

Based on the novel by H. G. Bissinger, this is a movie that highlights the importance of American Football to small town USA. Here we see how a successful team can unite a town and make the poverty, unemployment and low prospects for future go to the back of their minds for the duration of the game. This drives the town and the season becomes the major event in the calendar. Again we have seen films like this before but not many have displayed the intensity and realism of this movie.

Director Peter Berg and his crew have shot the film in an almost documentary style. The camera is very lose and in the centre of the action both on and off the field. You feel like you are witnessing something not just watching it, as we see the trails and tribulations that come with high school football. This makes the movie very realistic, a fact that is accompanied by the excellent true storyline that drives the movie on.

Bringing the story to life is an excellent cast. Billy Bob Thornton maybe the big star of the movie but his character of Coach Gary Gaines isn't really the lead role of the film. He does bring a dignity and intensity to the character, as he faces the criticisms and problems that come with the coaching job but he is not the main character of the piece. It is the young cast that receive all the dramatic roles of the film and it is through them we follow the season.

Lucas Black, Garrett Hedlund and Derek Luke as quarterback Mike Winchell, star player Boobie Miles and underachiever Don Billingsley all have their stories highlighted. Here we see how the pressures of doing right by your family can change your future, how an injury can totally change your future and how hard it is living in your father's shadow and coming to terms with his disappointment. Each of these young actors portrays their situations with the utmost confidence and realism as the trio make the characters very believable.

'Friday Night Lights' is a sports movie that has a story to tell. It isn't all about the underdog overcoming adversity to beat the odds; this is about a team that is expected to win and what happens when things don't exactly go to plan. The film is much more that just that however, as this is also a look into the power of sport and how it can be a shining light in the lives of the people of town. With excellent performances throughout and the almost documentary look, this is a first class sports film that will captivate you from start to finish.


Presented in Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1 with Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound, the movie is presented extremely well, highlighting the documentary visual style.


Action Packed Deleted Scenes (20.48 mins)
Entitled 'Don's middle finger', 'Extended 'Sincere warfare' speech', 'Janitor gives Gaines advice', 'Teachers give Gaines advice', 'Gaines in car with coaches/Shotgun scene', 'Comer hopes', 'Extended Midland Scene', 'L.V. shows up at Gaines' house', 'No gear training' and 'Extended 'Dare you to beat it' scene, these deleted and extended scenes suffer from not having a commentary track or introduction to explain why these scenes ended up on the cutting room floor.

Peter Berg discusses a scene in the movie (1.06 mins)
The director explains the party scenes and the reasons for it, followed by the scene itself.

Player Cam (4.19 mins)
Ryan Jacobs uses his camcorder to record behind the scenes footage during the filming of 'Friday Night Lights'. Here we see the fun on the set as the director and stars go expose the camaraderie and high jinx that when on during the production.

Tim McGraw: Off the Stage (6.12 mins)
The country star turned actor is joined by director Peter Berg, producer Brian Glazer and stars Billy Bob Thornton, Garrett Hedlund and Lucas Black, to talk about his character Charlie Billingsley, sports and making the move from music to movies.

The Story of the 1988 Permian Panthers (23.32 mins)
Director Peter Berg, author H. G. Billingsley, producer Brian Glazer and stars Billy Bob Thornton, Derek Luke, Garrett Hedlund, Lucas Black and Tim McGraw join the real life Boobie Miles, Don Billingsley, Mike Winchell and Brian Chavez to talk about the story of the 1988 Panthers team and the real life people involve in and around the team. Including real footage and interviews with the players from the time, the featurette shows how actuate the book and film is in representing this story.

Audio Commentary with Director Peter Berg and writer Buzz Bissinger
The director and writer, who happen to be cousins, come together to talk about the book and how it developed into a film. Both of them discuss the real life characters and team that the book is inspired from. The 1988 setting is also talked about with the fashions, style and look been very important. The visual style of the film is also revealed, with Peter Berg talking about why he chose a documentary style for the movie. The pair provides an interesting and informative commentary that offers a fascinating insight into the film and the story.

Universal Mediterranea (0.48 mins)
Promotional advert for the Spanish theme park complex


Universal have done a great job with the DVD package for 'Friday Night Lights'. With some fascinating and fun featurettes, some good deleted scenes and an informative commentary track, fans of this excellent sports movie should be pleased with this DVD.


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