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Friday Night Lights (2004)



Average Rating: 7.1/10
Reviews Counted: 168
Fresh: 136 | Rotten: 32

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


Average Rating: 7.4/10
Critic Reviews: 43
Fresh: 37 | Rotten: 6

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



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Average Rating: 3.6/5
User Ratings: 184,754


My Rating

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


Drama, Action & Adventure

Peter Berg, David Cohen

Jan 18, 2005


Universal Pictures - Official Site External Icon

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Latest News on Friday Night Lights

December 9, 2013:
Peter Berg Says the Friday Night Lights Movie Is Off
"I've come to believe it's probably not a good idea and I seriously doubt it's gonna happen."
June 19, 2012:
Peter Berg Celebrating Father's Day
He's set to adapt another Buzz Bissinger book.


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All Critics (173) | Top Critics (45) | Fresh (136) | Rotten (32) | DVD (37)

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

November 1, 2007 Full Review Source: Newsweek
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

March 26, 2007 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Nuance typifies both Mr. Thornton's highly calibrated performance and the film's absence of unnecessary underlining.

November 11, 2004 Full Review Source: New York Observer
New York Observer
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Substitutes slick, cynical point-scoring for insight.

October 19, 2004 Full Review Source: | Comments (4)
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Friday Night Lights is the real deal, a grim, in-your-face expose of one West Texas school's fanatical sports program.

October 12, 2004
San Jose Mercury News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

So much more than a football movie.

December 24, 2010 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media | Comment (1)
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.

October 30, 2009 Full Review Source: Window to the Movies
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.

February 2, 2009 Full Review Source: Bright Lights Film Journal | Comments (6)
Bright Lights Film Journal

Had Billy Bob Thornton not been so good in so many films, people would be talking about this as his greatest role.

July 31, 2008 Full Review Source: Film4

The script spends at least as much time exploring the psychologies of the young players and the problems they face at home as it does rallying the audience behind their efforts on the field.

April 14, 2007 Full Review Source: Film Threat
Film Threat

While the atmosphere is excellent, and the general elements all strong, the film sadly fails to give any real insight or depth in regards to explaining the hows and whys of the near fever over the game and its players.

October 30, 2006 Full Review Source: Dark Horizons
Dark Horizons

You'll leave the theater somewhat emotionally spent -- feeling like you've been tackled by a 220-pound linebacker -- but it's worth the ride. One of the best sports movies ever.

September 22, 2006
Christianity Today

The movie's principles are seriously out of whack, even as it angles toward a Big Life Lesson about learning to live with falling short of greatness.

May 26, 2006 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid | Comments (2)
Combustible Celluloid

The best sports movie for years, as it's not about sport at all. Forget fears of jingoistic grandstanding, this is an un-American all-American tale that deserves attention.

April 1, 2006 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

An excellent effort that packs a solid, emotional punch.

January 17, 2006 Full Review Source: Sydney Morning Herald
Sydney Morning Herald

a good film, but it is preaching to the converted

September 3, 2005 Full Review Source: Draxblog Movie Reviews

Friday Night Lights is a film about football, but it shares more in common with films from the horror genre than with its predecessors.

July 25, 2005 Full Review Source:

A Friday night movie if ever there was one.

July 21, 2005 Full Review Source: RTE Interactive (Dublin, Ireland)

Thornton anchors the film with his understated but no less effective performance but the stand-out is Derek Luke (Antwone Fisher) - the scene where he finally realises that his football career is over is truly heartbreaking to watch.

May 14, 2005 Full Review Source: ViewLondon

Its script is pure corn, drenched in syrupy sentiment and topped with prize ham in the shape of Billy Bob Thornton's tub-thumping coach.

May 10, 2005 Full Review Source:

There's nothing particularly universal or relevant about this place- and sport-specific ode to American football. Although it's a gripping and watchable true story.

April 18, 2005 Full Review Source: Shadows on the Wall
Shadows on the Wall

Both a great sports film and a terrific commentary on human nature.

February 7, 2005

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.
May 7, 2013

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.
July 22, 2011
Melvin White

Super Reviewer

I probably would have liked this film a ton better had the TV show not eclipsed it in grandeur many times over. Billy Bob, you are no Kyle Chandler.
April 29, 2011

Super Reviewer

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