Metascore
70

Generally favorable reviews - based on 35 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 31 out of 35
  2. Negative: 0 out of 35
  1. Reviewed by: Allison Benedikt
    100
    There isn't a bad performance here, but besides Thornton, Luke stands out.
  2. Reviewed by: Ian Nathan
    100
    The best sports movie for years, as it's not about sport at all. Forget fears of jingoistic grandstanding, this is an un-American all-American tale that deserves attention.
  3. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    90
    Few films have shown so powerfully the slashing double edge of sports fever.
  4. 88
    The movie demonstrates the power of sports to involve us; we don't live in Odessa and are watching a game played 16 years ago, and we get all wound up.
  5. A smart, sharp, stirring adaptation of the H.G. Bissinger best-seller.
  6. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    88
    One of the best football movies ever, Nights in the end celebrates the game.
  7. Thornton, giving a splendid, disciplined performance, seamlessly shapes his coach into a believable man of quality rather than star-size charisma.
  8. The film lets you get caught up in the excitement of this religion and the addictive nature of those stadium lights. Berg and cinematographer Tobias Schliessler get up close to the action, catching the hits and miscues in all their violent urgency.
  9. 80
    Country singer and sometime actor Tim McGraw excels as the bitter, besotted ex-Panther who can't cut his kid enough slack to follow his own game plan.
  10. Reviewed by: Benjamin Strong
    80
    Director Peter Berg, an actor himself, gets quietly excruciated performances from the team members.
  11. The movie works because Berg never forgets to keep his heart in the game and not just his head.
  12. Reviewed by: Andrea Gronvall
    80
    Captures all the action of a tumultuous season while showing the emotional toll on the players.
  13. 75
    Thornton gets inside the coach's skin. It's a subtle, soulful performance in a movie that otherwise goes for the jugular.
  14. Reviewed by: Robert Dominguez
    75
    Rousing, action-packed.
  15. Reviewed by: Staff (Not credited)
    75
    It also bears something you rarely experience in a football movie. Friday Night Lights has a soul.
  16. 75
    Berg's picture is certainly an above average effort that provides a solid emotional punch.
  17. The film goes for a grainy, fast-cut, documentary look that is both a blessing and a curse.
  18. Reviewed by: Angel Cohn
    70
    Stands out by virtue of its impressive visual style and the filmmakers' decision not to massage the facts into cliched conflicts with neat, feel-good resolutions that produce the proper sense of uplift.
  19. 70
    When Friday Night Lights gets to the big games, the time it's spent creates an atmosphere thick with tension, one akin to the real-world experience of watching a favorite team play for its life.
  20. Real enough around the edges to hold our attention even if it sacrifices accuracy for storytelling ease.
  21. Uplifting and troubling, partly because it is more honest than most sports movies about the high cost and short life span of high school football glory.
  22. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    70
    Friday Night Lights is the "Black Hawk Down" of high school football movies. As exclusively as Ridley Scott's picture was about combat, this film concerns football and nothing but.
  23. For all its energy, fine performances and dramatic confrontations, Friday Night Lights substitutes intensity for insight, dodging the book's harsher findings like a dazzling broken-field runner.
  24. Honest because it gets a paradoxical truth: There's more to life than football, even when there isn't.
  25. Reviewed by: Sean Daly
    70
    Give credit to Berg for keeping Bissinger's all-too-true ending intact. It's a doozy.
  26. The game footage is as engrossing as the real thing, although it comes at the expense of diminished attention to the teen players and their emotional problems.
  27. 63
    It's all amiably hackneyed, but it sucks you in anyway.
  28. 63
    The last half hour devoted to the Big Game, staged by a crew from NFL films, is genuinely rousing and inspiring. That's where Friday Night Lights finally shines.
  29. In the deck of clich├ęs that is the typical sports movie, it at least does us the courtesy of shuffling the cards a little.
  30. It's a passably made, grittily acted slice of life in Texas that veers not an inch from the norm for this sort of picture.
  31. 60
    The film also benefits from unusually solid writing and a masterfully understated turn by Billy Bob Thornton.
  32. 58
    Acted with earnest commitment and scored and edited with jazzy, laconic grace, "Lights" tells us absolutely nothing we haven't heard before -- and often -- in sports films
  33. Too much about the game and not enough about the town, the players and everything else.
  34. 40
    There's some good acting in this mess.
User Score
7.0

Generally favorable reviews- based on 102 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 47 out of 66
  2. Negative: 17 out of 66
  1. DanielV
    Jun 22, 2009
    10
    You have to be into sports especially football to really appreciate this work.
  2. TylerD
    Jul 28, 2007
    10
    One of the best, if not THE best sports film of all time. Myself being a fan of Explosions in the Sky only improves how much I enjoyed the movie, as well. Billy Bob Thorton at his best. Full Review »
  3. Jan 17, 2014
    6
    While I know this came first, seeing this in comparison to the TV series is like night and day. On one hand, the TV series is phenomenal. On the other, this is not. The story just feels so abbreviated and hastened. The great part about the TV series was that while it was about football, of course, it was about so much more than that. It was about the characters and their daily lives and then how everyone would unite on Friday to play football. In the movie, and this is to my point about the abbreviated nature of the movie, a lot of the characterization was missing and it ultimately felt almost impersonal. Sadly, this is why I could not enjoy this one a ton. Now, it was an ok movie and all, but cerainly not as great as I would have hoped. This story is clearly just better suited for television where everything can be explored in greater depth. Full Review »