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Movie Review: Friday Night Lights

Alternate Title: Texas-Sized Pressure

Occasionally you will find a Guest Movie Review in this space. The beauty of having one's own website is that there aren't any rules.
And so - my young pal, Co-Zoo Guide at the Central Park Zoo and oft-times movie buddy, Mary Schwalm, offered to write a review of a film that she knew I would never see. Mary is a Sports Photo Editor for the Associated Press and knows a heck of a lot about sports (I do not).Check out her website at www.maryschwalm.com.

Story: Even the bright stadium lights can't shed optimistic light to this true story based on a novel by the same name by H.G. Bissinger. The story is about the pressures and escapism of high school football, a team from economically challenged Odessa,Texas as it tries to win the State Championship.

Adding to the challenge of the big task, the key players all come from broken homes which adds to the stress of their everyday life. Quarterback Mike Winchell has a sick mother and absent father, Runningback Boobie Miles is raised by his uncle, and Don Billingsley is abused by an alcoholic father reliving his high school glory days unsuccessfully through his son. Coach Gary Gaines has the task of balancing the challenge of appeasing the town with their threats and ideas about how to win while coaching a team of hormonal teenagers who shoulder tremendous expectations from their family, peers and community.

Success on the field is the surest way out of town for a better life. The result is a thoughtful well done film, full of riveting pep talks that left me with no choice but to root for the underdog so the hard working nice kids could get out of Odessa.

Acting: A great young cast Lucas Black (Winchell), Derek Luke (Miles) and Garrett Hedlund (Billingsley) are believable and will no doubt have full careers as a result of the exposure and success of this film. Billy Bob Thorton is an excellent cast as coach Gary Gaines, perfectly depicting the up and down temper of your stereotypical high school coach.

Predilection: I always like movies about sports.

Soundtrack: Run DMC-esqu, not my favorite, but easy to ignore.

Theater Audience: a handful of others, all reading the sports section instead of the 20 minutes of advertising.

Sappy Factor: Some sap during the pep talks, but they worked!

Squirm Scale: Some good hard bloody hits that are sure to draw a flag today. For anyone who's torn an ACL, Im sure you'll feel it right along with the


Predictability Level: It's based on a book, I knew the ending.

Tissue Usage: If you're from a town like Odessa, you'd cry right along with the wins and the losses. I'm grew up in El Paso, but got out before high school. Didn't need tissues.

Oscar Worthy: Billy Bob does a pretty good job.

Nit Picking: Couldn't they find some actors who actually look like high school students?

Big Screen or Rental: The hits look pretty good on the big screen. For other happier sports movies, check out Bring it On, and Love and Basketball.

Length: 117 minutes

LOBO HOWLS (by proxy): 8