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Friday Night Lights looks at high school football in the harsh light of reality, finding heart and hardness while stirring our emotions. Actor-director Peter Berg (Very Bad Things, The Rundown) is Bissinger's cousin; he knows the material well, and understands how an obsession with winning turns high school kids into somber, over-pressured gladiators--expendable soldiers in a community war against shame and obscurity. The fact-based story focuses on the 1988 football season of Odessa-Permian high school in West Texas, and as a fast-paced sports movie, Berg delivers the goods with a rousing, frenetically styled crowd-pleaser. But there's darkness in this tale of weary underdogs, including an abusive father (well-played by country music star Tim McGraw), threatening townsfolk, an injured star running back (Derek Luke), a tormented quarterback (Lucas Black), and the melancholy coach (Billy Bob Thornton) who takes his team to the finals.