Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Notes on Friday Night Lights 

This is a powerful movie, and it might be one of my favorite sports movies. However, that's probably not for the reason that most people like sports movies. Typically, sports movies are about struggle, overcoming adversity, persistence, and eventually victory, or something like that. A sports movie where the main characters don't win is almost unheard of.

If you aren't paying attention, you might think that Friday Night Lights is just that sort of movie. However, what it's really about is having an unhealthy attitude towards sports. The movie is quite clear about where it stands on this, as announcers complain that not enough money has been spent on the high school's football stadium, and superstar kids can barely read their college recruitment letters. The kids in the movie are told that they don't have any opportunities aside from football, and they believe it. Because they believe it, it's true, and it's heartbreaking.

Aside from that, it's a pretty typical sports movie. Billy Bob Thornton is great as the football coach (but then, saying that is like saying that Courtney Love is an amazing actress when she plays a crackwhore), and all the other Texans put in very natural performances. The movie depends on that authenticity, because it's very much not in the traditional Hollywood style of, say, Jerry Maguire. The camera is frequently handheld, and it cut very quickly, like a music video. Some parts of it just seem like a highlight reel, fast-forwarding through time. Of course, all sports movies do that, but this one makes doesn't try as hard to hide it. That's not a criticism, either, it works well.

Huh? The Rocky model is so common it's almost expected that half the time the team/character will get second place and not first. Cool Runnings? Bring It On? The list goes on.
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