Friday Night Lights (2004)

(Release Date: October 8, 2004)

2.5 Stars... At BEST!2.5 Stars... at BEST!1/2

Great story, good acting, bad movie!

Peter Berg is NOT a director!!!
J.C. Maçek III
The World's Greatest Critic!

There's an interesting and effective kind of film making known now as "Documentary Style" (or Cinema Verite) shooting. This involves overall grainy film stock with quick and loose camera movements and on-the-fly re-focuses to give the feel that what made it to the screen is the most realistic thing you can get. The effect is perfect for sports movies, particularly football movies, as it gives a rapid-fire sort of in-the-game impression.

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I put me in the picture... In this case it could ONLY improve it!

When Friday Night Lights began I felt like I might be in for a real-life Any Given Sunday or Remember the Titans. Then the action left the field and inept non-director Peter Berg not only didn't stop the unfixed camera, but actually amplified it. In Berg's ridiculous reach for "Documentary Style" Film Making he's made the mistake of believing that documentary film makers are complete idiots and can't handle a camera to save their drunken lives! It's forgivable and even welcome to see such a thing in a Sports Action scene, but when two adults are sharing a meaningful conversation in a bedroom rife with meaningful dialogue, should the camera act as if it's strapped to a neurotic puppy dog with ADHD and an itch? Throw a pint of Vaseline on the lens and break the camera's Auto Focus feature and this is how even the best parts of Friday Night Lights come across.

It's all a victim of Peter Berg's desire make an impOrtant mOvie and thusly be seen as an impOrtant directOr. Berg's ham-handed attempts at being impOrtant are all over this movie like sweat on a jock strap, and is only equaled by the silly shots at impOrtant dialOgue. Ah, well, what should I expected from a bad actor whose name means "Dick City"?

It's a real shame too because Friday Night Lights really is a good and true story based on an intrepid football team who made it all the way to the Texas State Championships. And if you think that everything in a story like that is predictable, you're only 80% right, Amigo! Sure, Berg throws in every sports cliché into the film until I actually expected a cameo by John Madden or Bob Uecker, but, being a true story, there are some elements that even Berg couldn't Hollywood Whitewash, and those parts manage to be surprisingly realistic, if less than satisfying.

This account of the Odessa, Texas Permian High Panthers, and their city-wide dream of greatness, is enhanced by some good acting by the overall good cast. Billy Bob Thornton leads the cast as the hard-nosed, near celebrity football Coach Gary Gaines. His ups and downs leading a "perfect" team of High School Jocks, including the versatile and always watchable Derek Luke; the creepy kid from The X-Files Movie Lucas Black; Crazy/Beautiful's Jay Hernandez; Troy's Garrett Hedlund and newcomer Lee Jackson is as consistent as it gets until the dialogue gets cartoonishly melOdramatic. You can almost smell which lines in the script by Berg and co-author David Aaron Cohen are Cohen's and which lines are Berg's attempts at proving that he's impOrtant! Thornton deserves another Oscar for being able to deliver lines like "... if yew believe that... then yew... will truly... fly" without bursting into laughter. This coupled with the horrifyingly bad camera work shoots the good movie this could and should be in the cleats! Peter Berg, to paraphrase your own bad dialogue, You're writing or directing like the village idiot! You want people to think of you as the village idiot! There are most steady camera shots in The Blair Witch Project!

And that's the detriment of this movie. It could have been something so much better if it weren't for such stupid and smug attempts at artistry that give an overall ironic missing of the target. It really is a good sports story, made into a bad movie masturbating in its own sense of self-impOrtance! If you're on LSD, this might look like an okay and steady film... if not, either motion sickness or bad lines will keep you reaching for the nausea bags! Don't know about you, but I'm going to go read the true story in Book form by H.G. Bissinger! At least that won't have Berg getting a mentally ill person drunk and strapping a camera to his crotch and screaming "GO FIGHT BILLY BOB" in that experience. There's a glimmer of a great story in this movie... so to la bibliotheque I shall go!

When I find out whose friggin' cousin Peter Berg is, I'm gonna go to him and find a way to have Dick City's ASS! He's a "director" why? How? Nothing but nepotism or an amazing amount of sexual favors can explain how a director who ruins such a great story even with great actors can keep getting work! It's impOrtant that next time there's such a great story to bring to the big screen that an actual directOr gets hired. A good story, very good football scenes, and overall accomplished acting save this movie from the poor script and self-satisfied entitlement of Peter Berg! Far be it from me to dis any movie with a Cameo from Christian Kane, but, damn it, Two and One Half Stars out of Five for Friday Night Lights. As it stands it's not a great movie... but it sure had the potential to be! Watch This Space for the review of the Novel Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream. Until then, I'll see you in the Next Reel... and if you believe that... then you... will truly... fly! RAH RAH RAH! HIS NAME IS DICK CITY!

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Friday Night Lights (2004) Reviewed by J.C. Maçek III who is solely responsible for his own views and for the fact that he's seen virtually EVERY sports movie ever made!
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His name is Dick City!!!!

I haven't seen this many bad lines in one place since someone replaced my Coccaine with Rat Poison!