Last Watch Date – September 8, 2022
Total Times Watched – Once
Let’s go back to high school like Matthew McConaughey with some Friday Night Lights action. Oddly, I had never seen this movie before. I think it fell in a weird time for me when I was finishing up college and wasn’t really watching many movies about sports. Probably because I wasn’t really playing sports at that time.. Doesn’t matter, I watched it tonight!
This movie has a lot of praise and I’m not sure it’s totally worthy. It is a story you’ve DEFINITELY heard before if you are into sports. Not specifically this team, but this same general story of a team seeking a state championship. Scrappy little underdogs in this case, an undersized team was trying to take down the big baddies of Texas football. This is based on a real story, though takes significant liberties in a bunch of places. I’m not really sure it needed to do that – the real story is interesting as it is. Whatever.
You get the “I’m going no where without the game” type, the “my dad used to play and wants to relive his glory through me” type, the “quiet but dangerous” type, and even “the single parent, shitty home life” kid. None of these stories are particularly interesting because, well, you’ve seen them all before done much better. There’s an odd scene where the one drunkard dad (TIM MCGRAW) rains shit on his son and chucks his state championship ring out onto the side of the road. His kid panics and tries to go find it (spoiler: he finds it), but while he looks for it, he’s distraught like someone threw his puppy out the window. What is the attachment this kid would have with his dad’s ring? It makes no sense, especially if your dad is an abusive drunk dickhole.
Let’s go on to the football itself though. You’d like to see a “based on real events” sports movie handle the actual sports scenes seriously, but they made them so over-the-top that it was laughable. Guys getting helicoptered, flipped, slammed, clotheslined, etc. I should’ve known something was up when I saw it was directed by Randy “The Macho Man” Savage. They really try to play up the drama but it falls flat for the most part. Billy Bob doesn’t really inspire me as a coach. I don’t need fire and brimstone, but I don’t buy Billy Bob as a head coach. I also think they failed to capture the extreme talent disparity across high school teams, both between squads and within the same squad.
The acting is played up by everyone except Billy Bob, who seems to underplay the role. Connie Britton is in this (and the subsequent TV series which I have also not seen), but you only see her on screen for a couple minutes. She is the coach’s wife who theoretically exists. The players are young but not actually high school aged, so I expected more from them. It’s a weird juxtaposition to see the quiet guy get fired up one game and immediately have Billy Bob talk to the team as if they’re in a library right after. What were they trying to do here?
The biggest crime this movie commits, though, is the post-final game future summaries for a few key players and coaches. This movie was made in 2004 but has a lot of 1980s sensibilities in the worst way. It’s like because it was set in the 80s they had to make the movie feel like an 80s movie in structure and execution. It doesn’t work for me.
This movie takes itself VERY seriously but doesn’t feel serious at the same time. For that reason, I’m a NO.