Culture > Movies

Friday Night Lights

Movies | Some of the negative aspects may be positives, depending on parents' evaluation of their children's maturity

Issue: "2004 Election: Countdown," Oct. 23, 2004

To go or not to go to Friday Night Lights (rated PG-13 for thematic issues, sexual content, language, some teen drinking, and rough sports action)?

Let's review those PG- 13 elements, starting with "thematic issues": I suspect this refers to the gritty realism of a film about Texas high-school football where an injury ends the career of a star player, a dad emotionally abuses another player, and the ending is not Hoosiers-style. But is it necessary to shelter most 13-year-olds from some sad themes?

"Sexual content, some teen drinking": The film, which accurately shows the enormous pressure some adults in an economically depressed small town place on 17-year-olds, depicts offers of sex and liquor as part of the pressure. The party scene shows not fun but misery.

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"Language": Sure, you'll hear some bad words, but the head coach, who is the admirable adult figure in the book, never swears, even when he is under enormous pressure. Players kneel before games to recite the Lord's Prayer, bringing into theaters language not often heard there-and the director portrays that recital as honorable.

"Rough sports action": Absolutely, and those crunching tackles cover over several errors in detail that Texans and football fans will spot. Authentic game action shows the knife's edge between winning and losing and should suggest to Christians how grateful we should be that we can live by grace and not by works-because we'll always fall short.

So the negatives may be positives, depending on parents' evaluation of their children's maturity. And the biggest positive may be terrific acting by many, including Billy Bob Thornton (as coach Gary Gaines) and Derek Luke (as the running back who quickly moves from contemplating a future Heisman Trophy to watching garbage collectors with the realization that his top aspiration may be to join them).

Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.

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