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The popularity of high school football across the nation is such that attendance at games in 2015 was 166 million people. Moviemakers have sought to capture that enthusiasm by producing engaging films, with three movies standing out in this select genre, all of them made within the past 35 years. Below are reviews of these movies.
All the Right Moves-1983
Tom Cruise’s career was just getting started when he was cast as a high school football player seeking a scholarship that would help him avoid working in the Pennsylvania steel mills for the rest of his life.
The film does a good job of showing how important football is for small towns in that part of the country. The movie was filmed in Johnstown, Pennsylvania at a time when the steel industry was collapsing in the Keystone state, which enhanced the realism of the situation. The film ended up grossing over $17 million.
Remember the Titans-2000
This movie was based on the true story of the 1971 T.C. Williams High School football team. A black head coach, played by Denzel Washington, supplants the white coach, while the replaced coach becomes Washington’s top assistant. The two then help lead the team to the state title.
Being a Disney film, some of the more contentious bigotry has likely been toned down. In addition, some creative license with some facts and a few anachronisms stand out. Still, it’s an entertaining movie that also delivers a social message that few may have known about.
One actress in the film worth noting was Hayden Panettierre, who was just 11-year-old when she played the assistant’s football-savvy daughter.
Friday Night Lights-2004
Capturing the fervor of Texas high school football was this 2004 film that was based on the 1990 book by H.G. Bissinger. The Permian Panthers are the centerpiece of Odessa, Texas, with all economic demographics coming together to support the team.
That passion and the pressure on coaches in Texas is artfully captured and helps explain why high school stadiums costing $60 million end up being built in the state. The popularity of the film led to a five-year run as a TV series, with 76 episodes produced.
Due to the fact that drama is ever-present in high-stakes situations, high school football will continue to be a valuable source for future films.