Friday Night Lights (2004) - Rotten Tomatoes

Friday Night Lights (2004)



Critic Consensus: An acute survey of the football-obsessed heartland that succeeds as both a stirring drama and a rousing sports movie.

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Movie Info

A drama that chronicles the entire 1988 season of the Permian High Panthers of Odessa, Texas, with football players, coaches, mothers, fathers, pastors, boosters, fans and families struggling with ongoing personal conflicts while the team fights for a state championship. A town for sale, Odessa, Texas has seen better days--the financial bust evident in its boarded-up shops and broken lives. Yet one hope sustains the community where, once a week during the fall, the town and its dreams come alive beneath the dazzling and disorienting Friday night-lights. When the Permian High Panthers take to the field. In a city where economic uncertainty has eroded the spirit of its inhabitants, nearly everyone seeks comfort in the religion of the Friday night ritual, where the unfulfilled dreams of an entire community are shifted onto the shoulder pads of a team of high-school athletes.more
Rating: PG-13 (for thematic issues, sexual content, language, some teen drinking and rough sports action)
Genre: Drama, Action & Adventure
Directed By:
Written By: David Cohen, David Aaron Cohen, Peter Berg
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jan 18, 2005
Box Office: $60.6M
Universal Pictures - Official Site


Billy Bob Thornton
as Coach Gaines
Lucas Black
as Mike Winchell
Garrett Hedlund
as Don Billingsley
Derek Luke
as James `Boobie' Miles
Jay Hernandez
as Brian Chavez
Lee Jackson
as Ivory Christian
Lee Thompson Young
as Chris Comer
Tim McGraw
as Charles Billingsley
Grover Coulson
as L.V. Miles
Connie Britton
as Sharon Gaines
Connie Cooper
as Mrs. Winchell
Morgan Farris
as Jennifer Gaines
Laine Kelly
as Comer's Girlfriend
Gavin Grazer
as Trapper
Turk Pipkin
as Skip Baldwin
Brad Leland
as John Aubrey
Lillian Langford
as Nancy Aubrey
Buddy Hale
as Booster
B.T. Stone
as Slammin' Sammy
Wade L. Johnston
as Coach Miller
Rick Herod
as Coach McCutcheon
Paul Wright
as Coach Belew
Julius Tennon
as Coach James
Dennis Hill
as Coach Harper
Timothy Walter
as Coach Vonner
Robert Scott Smith
as Coach Smith
Kenneth Plunk
as Coach Plunk
Josh Berry
as Coach Campbell
Branson Washburn
as Coach Washburn
David Johnson
as Coach Johnson
Roy Williams
as Midland Lee Assistan...
Ty Law
as Graf
Tommy G. Kendrick
as Odessa Doctor
Wade Johnston
as Coach Miller
Ken Farmer
as Booster
Paul Wright III
as Coach Belew
Katherine Willis
as Booster Wife
Angie Bolling
as Booster Wife
Charles Sanders
as Buddy's Burgers Mana...
Barry Sykes
as Permian Play-by-Play...
Clay Kennedy
as Permian Color Announ...
Lewis B. Johnson
as Carter Play-by-Play ...
J.D. Hawkins
as Carter Play-by-Play ...
John Patrick Hayden
as Permian Booth Coach
Chris Palmer
as Permian Booth Coach
Kyle-Scott Jackson
as Scott Jackson-Carter...
C. Anthony "Charles"...
as Carter Booth Coach
Kippy Brown
as Carter Booth Coach
Cleveland "Chick" Ha...
as Carter Booth Coach
Billy Melvin Thomas
as Carter Assistant Coa...
Kammerin Hunt
as Carter Assistant Coa...
Gary Mack Griffin
as Marshall High School...
Randy Brinlee
as Marshall Game Refere...
Dan Rankin
as Cooper Game End Zone...
Tim Crowley
as Carter Game Referee
Harvey L. Jeffries
as Carter Game Official
Tiki Davis
as Carter Co-Captain - ...
Harry Everett Smith
as Carter Quarterback -...
Peter Harrell Jr.
as C.C. Russeau
Kevin Page
as John Wilkins
Brady Coleman
as Jerald McClary
Stephen Bishop
as Loie Harris
Bob Richardson
as Marvin Edwards
J. Mark Donaldson
as State Trooper
Aisha Schliessler
as Cheerleader
Evan Bernard
as Drunk Driver
Rutherford Cravens
as Kansas Wesleyan Recr...
Wayne Hanawalt
as Kansas Wesleyan Recr...
Brian Thornton
as Recruiter
Sam Austin
as Recruiter
Mark Nutter
as Recruiter
Jeff Gibbs
as Journalist Jim
Robert Flores
as Reporter
Terry Parks
as Skip Baldwin's Camer...
Talon Smith
as Young Kid
Taylor Sawyers
as Young Kid
Bradley Lisman
as Young Kid
Aaron Babino
as Football Player
Dean Baldwin
as Football Player
Ben Bronson
as Football Player
Sunny Byrd
as Football Player
John Clark
as Football Player
Bobby Doherty
as Football Player
Chris Fisher
as Football Player
Cedric Foster
as Football Player
Corey Hargers
as Football Player
Tavis Harvey
as Football Player
Deshaun Hill
as Football Player
Ryan Jacobs
as Football Player
Nick Jester
as Football Player
Brett Robin
as Football Player
Mike Jones
as Football Player
Russell Tyrone Jones
as Football Player
Mark Llewellyn
as Football Player
Jon Luke
as Football Player
O.J. McClintock
as Football Player
Robert Nguyen
as Football Player
Dewayne Patmon
as Football Player
Everick Rawls
as Football Player
Bret Robin
as Football Player
Ray Ross
as Football Player
Chad L. Stevens
as Football Player
Travis Thompson
as Football Player
Matt Trissel
as Football Player
Brandon Tully
as Football Player
Darrick Wallace
as Football Player
Steven Rogers
as Football Player
Joseph Norman
as Football Player
Chris Fisher
as Football Player
Mike Jones
as Football Player
Barney Welch
as Police Officer
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News & Interviews for Friday Night Lights

Critic Reviews for Friday Night Lights

All Critics (173) | Top Critics (45)

Few films have shown so powerfully the slashing double edge of sports fever.

Full Review… | November 1, 2007
Top Critic

A heart-pounding big-screen treatment that captures all the action of a tumultuous season while showing the emotional toll on the players.

Full Review… | March 26, 2007
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

The affecting, gruelling result is less a document of recreational sport than one of obligation and ordeal.

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

So much more than a football movie.

Full Review… | December 24, 2010
Common Sense Media

What Friday Night Lights offers is the perspective that, for the people and young players caught up in this whirlwind, football simultaneously means everything and ultimately nothing.

Full Review… | October 30, 2009
Window to the Movies

Friday Night Lights is a feel-good movie, but it's not real. It's a hard-hitting Hallmark greeting card. It's no wonder it appealed to Larry King %u2014 it's safe, easy, conventional, and feigns incisiveness.

Full Review… | February 2, 2009
Bright Lights Film Journal

Audience Reviews for Friday Night Lights


Another film about football, this sports drama has been lauded by critics for its grotesque portrayal of on-field action, its raw emotion, and fighting spirit. It went on to inspire a television show that was a critical darling until its end in 2011, and remains one of the few sports movies that many relate to and love. The film follows the Odessa-Permian panthers in their 1988 season, a real team that was characterized by a book of the same name in which this film was based. It follows the team as their star coach has to grapple after the injury of one of their best players, and the ensuing losing streak. The film becomes an underdog tale as the team struggles to gain a foothold among the other teams competing for the title of state champion. Like other sports movies the action is rather built up, there is the tension of the town's Southern poverty thanks to an oil shortage in that year, and the characters having to traverse the regular hardships of their teenage existence. The town itself has a perverse stake in the football season and this generation's prowess, their interest ever present but most so in the beginning of the film, and though addressed throughout with an ex-champion father to one of the players, now a loud alcoholic played by Tim McGraw, there isn't really any change in that attitude. Instead that small town arrogance permeates the rest of the film and this football team's prominence is covered by the town's radio, television, and public opinion, which is simply sickening. The film also does not represent its characters very well, only briefly looking at their personal lives and more often than others cutting to the football field where they are harassed and abused by their assistant coaches and family members. The characters are badly defined, most often badly acted, and forgettable. "Boogie" is the only empathetic or interesting character, and he barely has anything to do with their season. In the end the attitude of sports being most important prevails, and none of the characters show any growth, only expressing their sadness at never playing again. Besides being an underdog story there isn't much tension, and with all the buildup that's vitally important, which is why this film leaves you deflated.

Spencer S.

Super Reviewer


A movie is rare when they make a movie as good as Friday Night Lights, and a movie that is the best performance from Billy Bob Thorton ever. The plot is the best sports plot ive seen since Rudy or Hoosiers. The characters were all great, they all gave a backround of themselves by their expression, really good acting. I was surprised to discover the music was tremendous, really well made. The cinematography was really shaky for a football movie. This movie was amazing.

Jim Careter

Super Reviewer

Mike Winchell: This is for the state championship. I love all of ya'll, baby. I love all of ya'll. 

"Hope Comes Alive on Friday Night"

As far as football movies or sports movies in general go, Friday Night Lights sets itself apart from most. I don't know if I've seen another movie that captures the emotion of high school athletics as well as Friday Night Lights did. Anyone who's ever played a high school sport knows the emotion that's involved. That last game of the season and for about 95% of the players; the last game of their lives. 

The State Championship sequence is highly manipulative. I'll be the first to admit that. Everything about it is manipulative. But it's undeniably well-made, emotional, and powerful. For many of the players, it is the biggest moment of their life. They aren't going to have another day where 55,000 people are screaming and their only a touchdown away from a state championship. 

The characters are all well developed and are all deeply moving in their own way. Billingsley can't hold on to the football, but he fights through that and ends up being one of the teams best players. Winchell is a hard working and tough quarterback who never gives up on himself or his team. Boobie is the most talented player, but also the most cocky. That is until he goes down for the season. He rallies around his team even though he can't play, and it's killing him. Hell even Billingsley's dad is moving. Yeah he's a piece of crap to his son at the start. But he grows to be a good dad at the end in a pretty emotional shot. We can't hear what he says to his son, but we really don't need to.

If you love sports and know the emotions that are involved; this movie cannot be missed. It's really a spectacular look at one season and how it can affect a town in so many ways.

Melvin White

Super Reviewer

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