Friday Night Lights

  • Review Date: January 17, 2005
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2004
  • Running Time: 117 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Powerful drama is so much more than a football movie.
  • Review Date: January 17, 2005
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2004
  • Running Time: 117 minutes





What parents need to know

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

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).

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Underage drinking; an adult character abuses alcohol.

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).

Parents say

Kids say

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. It 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.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about what it feels like for these 17-year-old boys 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

Theatrical release date:October 8, 2004
DVD release date:January 18, 2005
Cast:Billy Bob Thornton, Lucas Black, Tim McGraw
Director:Peter Berg
Studio:Universal Pictures
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

This review of Friday Night Lights was written by

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About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 16 years old Written bymovieman09 April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age


This movie was one of the best movies i have ever seen. You don't have to understand football to enjoy this movie. There are some sexual refernces and scenes but they have nothing to do with the story so you can fast forword them. 10 and up.
Teen, 17 years old Written bytankgaski April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age
Teen, 15 years old Written byredsox1 December 19, 2010
I loved Friday Night lights it was one of the best football movies I have ever seen. This movie is based on a true story about a high school team who works really hard during the season and go undefeated and lose in the state championship game. This movie was fantastic because the actors in this movie were great and did a nice job. However, it was an easy to follow movie and that's why I rated this movie 5 stars.
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Great role models


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