From the big cities to the smallest wind-swept towns, high school football really is a way of life in Texas. H.G. “Buzz” Bissinger captured it with eloquence and evocative detail in his 1990 best seller “Friday Night Lights,” and director Peter Berg does it again in his film of the same name. It’s easy to overdramatize the heroism and heartache of a sports movie, but Berg resists the urge and goes in the opposite direction.

Billy Bob Thornton continues to show he can bring nuance to any role as the under-pressure coach of the Permian High School Panthers. Among the stars of his squad are shy quarterback Mike Winchell (Lucas Black), who’s not really sure why he’s playing football, and party-boy tailback Don Billingsley (Garrett Hedlund), who’s living in the shadow of his alcoholic father (country music star Tim McGraw, who’s surprisingly convincing in his first film).

Rated: PG-13 for thematic issues, sexual content, language, some teen drinking and rough sports action. Running time: 105 minutes. Rating: 3 out of 4 stars.

– Christy Lemire, AP Entertainment Writer
‘Raise Your Voice’

Hilary Duff, who seems to represent the last bastion of all that is sweet and pure in these mixed-up teen-idol times, stars as an aspiring singer in this movie, which plays like “Fame” with Christian overtones. Imagine the performing arts students from that film (which seemed so racy back in 1980, didn’t it?) being transplanted from New York to Los Angeles and depleted of their nudity, unwanted pregnancy and desperate dreams of stardom, and this is what you’d have.

While it’s admirable of the filmmakers to try and offer something for young people that’s not hopeless or subversive, what they’ve come up with here is earnest and wholesome – but unfortunately stiff and corny. Rita Wilson, John Corbett and Rebecca De Mornay co-star. Rated: PG for thematic elements and language. Running time: 103 minutes. Rating: 1 1/2 out of 4 stars.

– Christy Lemire, AP Entertainment Writer
‘Taxi’

A disappointing follow-up for director Tim Story, who made an impressive debut with 2002’s “Barbershop.”

Based on the 1998 French flick of the same name written by Luc Besson (who also produces the remake), “Taxi” is substandard issue in the mismatched buddy comedy genre. Queen Latifah plays a cabbie whose souped-up taxi is commandeered by a bungling cop (Jimmy Fallon) to chase a gang of gorgeous women robbing banks. The jokes are mostly lame, the characters are cliches, while the car chases and other action are tediously repetitive.

Latifah and Fallon have individual moments of comic charm, but together, they’re often as awkward as actors feeling their way through an audition reel. Rated: PG-13 for language, sensuality and brief violence. Running time: 97 minutes. Rating: 1 1/2 out of 4 stars.

– David Germain, AP Movie Writer


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