"Friday Night Lights" takes place in a dismal West Texas suburb where society revolves entirely around high school football and the "winning is everything" philosophy is considered an All-American value.

Director Peter Berg ("The Rundown") vividly captures life here beginning with the opening shot -- an aerial view of sagebrush, oil pumps and dust rising to a hazy horizon as a pickup barrels down a dirt road, an AM radio sports show blaring out its windows with boorish, pejorative fans calling in for a round of Monday morning quarterbacking.

But the film seems to endorse the hardcore sports-junkie attitude that obstinately forgives arrogance, misogyny, substance abuse, narrow-mindedness and bullying in any star athlete just as long as he produces results on the field. The movie's principles are seriously out of whack, even as it angles toward a Big Life Lesson about learning to live with falling short of greatness.

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