A TV show based on a movie is rarely as good as the original movie. That is not the case with Friday Night Lights (the movie – 2004). The 76-episode TV show, which I reviewed a few weeks ago, was so good that I decided to re-watch the critically acclaimed movie (81% by the Rotten Tomato critics, 84% by the audience) that I had watched many years ago.
The result? I found the original movie less satisfying than the TV show.
Why? I loved the TV show because of its memorable characters, while the movie focuses on a more prosaic subject – high school football in Texas.
An excellent contrast between these two approaches can be shown with the only two actors that appeared in both – Connie Britton plays Tami Taylor, the coach’s wife, and Brad Leland plays Buddy Garrity, the team’s biggest booster. In the movie, both characters are superficial and have no depth. In the TV show, however, they come to life and become interesting and important roles. Plus, the TV show has a coach, Kyle Chandler, who is immensely more charismatic than the movie coach, Billy Bob Thornton.
FNL is based on a true story so the storyline isn’t quite as incredible, but as an editor in the movie The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence suggested, “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.” FNL also contains better football action sequences. In the end, however, I love the characters in the TV show, and missed them terribly in the movie. I give the movie only two and a half stars.