It’s all in the game

“Friday Night Lights” quotes from a well-worn playbook

by Adrienne Baker

In many ways, “Friday Night Lights” follows the fundamental structure of sports movies from “Hoosiers” to “Varsity Blues.” However, the film shakes up an era of formulaic, “based on a true story,” small-town-hero narratives.

The film is a hodge-podge of football movies from the past with a cast of characters familiar to every fictional underdog team.

A high school football team, in a town desperately dependent on its success, finds itself in a tight spot when its overconfident and academically underachieving star player gets injured. The team’s new coach is under increasing pressure to win state.

In a series of intense football games, the bench-warming underdog gets a chance to

show what he can do, the big brutish silent player finds his voice, the handsome hard-working player gets what he has worked for and the player with family problems makes amends because of his star-like effort on the field.

The team makes it to the championship, and in a finale montage with soothing music, the audience reads about what happened to the characters after high school.

Although “Friday Night Lights” is structurally set as another sports flick, it challenges the mold in three very interesting ways.

As in other films, the primary ideal of football is that winning makes you a man and playing is American. “Friday Night Lights” shows the raw effect of the pressure from both adults and peers. The most poignant example are the shots of young men sobbing.

The second element that sets this film apart from similar narratives is they way it was filmed. The camera angles are up-close, abrasive and constantly changing. There are multiple lenses through which the audience can read the story. Whether you are seeing a scene through the blinds of a window, spinning several hundred feet in the air or two inches from a character’s face, this film allows the audience to be critical.

The third and most important element is that while the film might seem predictable, we find that it is not.

“Friday Night Lights” is an engaging story about a team

of young football players trying to make a life outside of their town and memories they can cherish forever. It will most likely be lumped in with the sports films of prior years, but for now, it will stand as a film that gave a slightly more accurate depiction of high school sports and the social struggles they create.