The Last Picture Show meets Any Given Sunday.
Last night at least 900 people paid $100 each for a ticket to see the Texas premiere of Friday Night Lights in Odessa. And, it was a real premiere with limos, a red carpet, tv crews, stars, the director. The only thing missing was Joan Rivers.
Author H. G. "Buzz" Bissinger apparently never really understood the intoxicating effect winning can have. And, in his book he treated the people of Odessa as some sort of curiosity. Forget the book. The movie was the book Buzz Bissinger should have written. Anyone who has ever enjoyed a football game will enjoy this movie. And what a powerful movie it was!
The camera work was tremendous. And, the well choreographed, Dolby amplified, hard slamming football action made me want to hide behind the seat in front of me. And some of the scenes were so climatic that it made the movie audience want to cheer. We had to remind ourselves, it's only a movie. It's only a movie.
Coach Gary Gaines can finally hold his head high again. Billy Bob Thornton did an excellent job of portraying him as competent and firm yet compassionate. The real Coach Gaines should be quite pleased with the movie.
There were some unlikeable characters in the movie. In particular, Tim McGraw played a drunken football-obsessed dad whose destructive tendencies were almost overwhelming. But, it was a great performance, and it must have been a tough part for McGraw to play.
Derek Luke was a smashing hit as Boobie Miles. Luke played Miles as a brash braggart with nothing but fabulous things in his future. The real Boobie Miles was in attendance, and his outgoing personality made him unmistakable as he held court at the post premiere party. But, in the movie, Miles sustains a knee injury, and the scene in which he sits with his uncle, L. V., in the parking lot of Ratliff Stadium and finally faces up to reality will just reach into your chest and rip out your heart. Take a handkerchief.
There were no scenes in which the stadium crowd cheered because a player got injured, so reason must have prevailed in the editing room.
Before Miles' knee injury Permian was on top of the world. "Expectations couldn't be any higher," the coach tells the players. "We will win state."
Following Miles' departure from the game, Permian went from the upper dog to the underdog which had to claw and fight its way back inch by bloody inch. And, with just the sheer luck of a coin toss Permian got the chance to play for the state championship in the movie.
The championship game in the movie was between Permian and Dallas Carter in the Astrodome. And, if anyone had come off as a villain before, that all fell to the wayside as we met Dallas Carter. From the first encounter with the Carter coaches as they played the race card in a preliminary meeting, to the last unpunished game violation, you could feel about as much compassion for Carter as for O. J. Simpson.
The championship game will really get your adrenalin going. You probably already know how it ends, so I won't dwell on it. But, I'll say that last night, regardless where we came from, we were all Permian Panthers.
Two thumbs way up! Go see it!
Updated 10/12/04: Welcome visitors from GruntDoc.com; Jessica's Well; Bull Durham's Hot Corner; BillyBobapaloosa; and Amerika Kiest. I have had a great time covering the making of the movie, and finally being able to see it on the big screen was a pleasure almost beyond words.
[To see all of the items at this web log about the movie and the making of the movie click "Friday Night Lights".]