A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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).
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?
- In theaters: October 8, 2004
- On DVD or streaming: January 18, 2005
- Cast: Billy Bob Thornton, Lucas Black, Tim McGraw
- Director: Peter Berg
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Sports and martial arts
- Run time: 117 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: thematic issues, sexual content, language, some teen drinking and rough sports action
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.