Friday Night Lights Peter Berg

Friday Night Lights Peter Berg
Sports movies, especially those involving a high school sports team, have little room to expand on their predecessors' successes. The formula has become simple and often boring: underdog team gets underdog coach; a series of trial-and-error situations raise them from the bottom; and they triumph in some championship game against all odds; the end. Friday Night Lights, for the most part, follows this formula, but it also somehow manages to make it seem fresh. Based on H.G. Bissinger's 1988 novel, Friday Night Lights tells the admirably true tale of Coach Gary Gaines (Billy Bob Thornton), who leads the high school football team in small-town Texas to the state semi-finals. Though it is ridiculously patriotic and hits many clichés, Friday Night Lights will surprise most viewers. Director Peter Berg (Very Bad Things) shoots pure adrenaline into every aspect of this film, to the point that it almost becomes hard to notice its flaws. Thornton (who one must remember is actually a very good actor, despite his bizarre public image) is in top form, carrying the team and the film itself. Sports films usually view well on the small screen and this film is tailor-made for DVD. It's the perfect Sunday afternoon distraction. The bonus features are not too bad either, especially some of the decent deleted scenes and a featurette about the real life 1988 Permian Panthers. There's even a nifty "player cam" feature that allows viewers to see up close all the work that went into the football scenes. The only drawback is the third feature, "Tim McGraw: Off The Stage," showing the country singer's (who has a small role in the film) "transition to the silver screen." Just don't click on that one and enjoy everything else. (Universal)