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A Review of Friday Night Lights

Published October 10, 2004 in MOVIE REVIEW
By Ryan Parsons | Pictures property of Universal
Friday Night Lights

Get tough and hold hands.
In an attempt to see Team America: World Police early, I ended up seeing Friday Night Lights instead. Now, I am a fan of youth football movies such as Varsity Blues and Remember the Titans, and, like these two films, Friday Night Lights is able to show what it means to play on a football team within a small town that relies on what I would call forced-to-mature-to-quickly players due to the strains placed on them [they are only in high school] by a struggling community.

First Look at Friday Night Lights

With the above being said, I greatly enjoyed the film. This is not saying that Friday Night Lights has the entertainment value of Varsity Blues or Remember the Titans [both films serve up much more humor], but it takes a cool, and interesting, look into small town football within a very serious light. When we see the addicted-to-football families in Varsity Blues we are allowed to laugh and mock this type of seriousness towards the game. In Friday Night Lights, this addicted-to-football attitude is almost to the point of frightening when you witness the pressures and burdons that are placed on teens to succeed; the only option to allow most a way out of their small, somewhat corrupt, town.

Since the film did remind me a lot of Varsity Blues [except that Friday Night Lights is based on a true story], the only way I could quickly explain it is to call the film Varsity Blues without the MTV label.

Arts of Cinematography Applied to Football

Where this film succeeds above films such as Varsity Blues is the cinematography applied to the in-game scenes [cinematography by Tobias A. Schliessler]. While some may complain that the scenes seem a little jerky and erratic at times, I found that style truly compelling as it allows the viewers to get into the mind-frame of the sport [which is full contact].

There is also a lot more use of the actual 'art' of film in Friday Night Lights. The director, Peter Berg, uses a lot of film shots that feature blurs, flashes, hues, and awkward angles. All in an effort to add a different feel to this football story. And, in this respect, he completely succeeds at producing something that is not just different, but a look and feel that completely fits the film. At times you feel as if you are watching a behind the scenes documentary.

The Score

Just another aspect of Friday Night Lights I thought should be pointed out. I do not know whether some would call this as a risk on Peter Burg's part by hiring a small-time band, Explosions in the Sky, to handle almost the entire score to the film, but it was a risk well taken. To create the score, the band basically just re-wrote some of their older songs and applied them to the feel of the movie [which should have been relatively easy to do since the film does fit the band's theme]. The music really comes through at the end of the film to help drive the viewer emotionally.

Final Judgment: I greatly enjoyed this film, but let me say that it is not an easy, enjoyable, ride. While the in-game scenes are fun and exciting, the story itself is very real in its attempt to re-live the glory days of high school football and the dilemmas constituted in and out of the game. A-

Expect to see this band, Explosions in the Sky, as next issues 'Band of the Month.'
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Compiled By (Sources)
Ryan Parsons
Sources: Pictures property of Universal

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