Friday Night Lights

Movie review by
Nell Minow, Common Sense Media
Friday Night Lights Movie Poster Image
Powerful drama is so much more than a football movie.
  • PG-13
  • 2004
  • 117 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 8 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 9 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Themes include competition, hard work, the importance of family, tragedy, triumph, and teamwork. Race and class are also issues. All of these issues are dealt with realistically and insightfully.

Positive Role Models & Representations

These are flawed, complicated characters; many mean well. Cast is diverse, but there's also plenty of racist language, and race is an issue in the final game.


Rough football skirmishes with some bloody injuries; a father is abusive to his son.


References to "getting laid," making out, implied teen sex, bare back and quick glimpses of bare breast.


Language includes "s--t," "hell," "damn," "ass," "goddamn," the "N" word, "Jesus Christ," and "oh my God" (as exclamations).

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Underage drinking; an adult character abuses alcohol.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Friday Night Lights has some tense family scenes with an abusive father. Underage characters drink, and an adult character abuses alcohol. There are sexual references/situations (including passionate making out and some quick glimpses of bare breast) and use of the phrase "getting laid." The football scenes are powerfully staged and very intense; some skirmishes result in bloody injuries, and viewers may almost feel that they're the ones getting tackled. The movie is frank in its treatment of race and class. Expect some strong language ("s--t" and more).

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bycinders March 1, 2015

Had to turn it off

I read the reviews, and knew that other families had recommended the viewing age as 13. I thought if I was just quick on the FF button during the party scene,... Continue reading
Adult Written bymelikao7 November 19, 2014

Pretty Boring

They go overboard with the romance and the videotaping is not good. It has more sexual content than football. I would not recommend this for children under 13.... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byDeclan1700 February 10, 2018
Kid, 9 years old September 20, 2015

It's good as a movie, it's better as a sports movie, but it's dark, and it's brutal.

I never get too excited to see sports movies. They tend to be over-dramatic, they tend to be poorly acted, and I sports is really just a game, it's not som... Continue reading

What's the story?

FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS follows the story of Coach Gary Gaines (Billy Bob Thornton) and his team, the Permian High Panthers of Odessa, Tex., a town that literally revolves around high school football. The film chronicles one season from the first day of practice to the championship game and is about dreams, competition, families, tragedy, triumph, and teamwork. Because it's set in America, it's also about race and class. Most of all, though, it's about how, in this small town, high school football affects individuals. Boobie Miles (Derek Luke) is the star player who juggles calls from college recruiters. Disenchanted former player Charles Billingsley (Tim McGraw) hopes to recapture the glory through his son but has no idea how to reach him except through insults and abuse. Mike Winchell (Lucas Black) juggles caring for a sick mother while trying to help the team win the title. And Coach Gaines shows his love for the game and for the boys on the team.

Is it any good?

Director/co-screenwriter Peter Berg has produced a movie that has both immediacy and resonance, filled with moments of authenticity and insight. Friday Night Lights has an intentionally rough, gritty, bleached, documentary feel, but Berg is in complete control, with every shot a small gem of precision and mastery. Many of the performances are quite moving, and, as always, Thornton brings subtlety and natural honesty to his role.

Within a very traditional sports movie structure, Berg assembles a mosaic of gem-like moments that illuminate a much bigger picture. This is not a football movie -- it's a rich and meaningful story about people who play football and the people who watch them, with respectful and poignant insights, beautiful performances, and sensitive treatment of issues that touch us all.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what it feels like for the 17-year-old boys in Friday Night Lights to carry so much of their family's and the town's sense of pride. What's good about that? What's bad?

  • Why was it so important to Don's father that he succeed? Why did he define success the way he did? Did his team's championship "carry him forever"?

  • How do parents help their children learn what success means? If it is not football that defines success in your community, what does?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love sports

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

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