80 for Brady review
Football fans accustomed to the superstitions and obsessive fandom that comes with following a squad should find lots to love with 80 for Brady…with the exception of Atlanta Falcons fans. It also should score with audiences looking for an earnestly good-natured and only slightly rowdy girl’s trip.
A group of friends — Lou (Lily Tomlin), Trish (Jane Fonda), Betty (Sally Field) and Maura (Rita Moreno) — get hooked on football the same game Tom Brady makes his NFL debut. Intrigued by the young soon to be Hall of Famer’s journey, the quartet’s bond strengthens over football. They quickly become massive fans of Brady and the New England Patriots with their own superstitious rituals they have to do before every game.
With Brady and the New England Patriots en route to another Super Bowl, Lou and her crew decide to go to their first big game. Of course, with Super Bowl tickets being insanely expensive, the quartet rests their hopes on winning a contest held by Pats radio hosts (Rob Corddry and Alex Moffat) who are looking for the best story. Four women over 80 obsessed with football? Hard to top that one.
Soon the crew is off for Houston for the big game and a series of unexpected misadventures including a high stakes poker game with a scene-stealing Billy Porter, a hot sauce BBQ contest with Guy Fieri and the occasional life lesson from Brady. Per the requirements of the genre, there’s also a scene featuring the gang unintentionally getting high. Just because that’s become a cliche doesn’t make it any less funny in this instance.
The script from Booksmart writers Sarah Haskins and Emily Halpern is fun channeling the buddy road trip feel of Girls Trip while still providing the film with its own charm.
Haskins and Halpern wisely give the four leads more layers to their characters than stock personality traits to play off each other. Maura is a skilled gambler but won’t take a chance on the kindly neighbor at the senior home (Glynn Turman). Trish is a novelist writing Gronk fanfic while longing for relationship stability.
Betty has become a genius level football analyst in part as a way to provide a break from her husband’s (Bob Babalan) constant indecisiveness. Lou is hiding a secret from her daughter (Sara Gilbert) This helps make the foursome feel less like comedic cutouts and more like real people.
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In a nice touch, Fonda’s romantic interest is played by Harry Hamlin, who’s 14 years younger than her. This bucks the normal trend with the older guy having a much younger girlfriend that’s more age appropriate to be their daughter.
One undeniable aspect of the film is how much fun the stars seem to be having. The cast is delightful playing off each other like they’ve done countless movies together — beyond Tomlin and Fonda. Ron Funches also has a very fun supporting role as the Super Bowl security guard who develops a cat and mouse relationship with the girls.
In the context of this story, this historic Super Bowl does make for a fantastic movie even with the liberties taken to give it an even more cinematic twist. Even more impossible than that vaunted comeback, somehow the film accomplishes the challenging feat of making Brady seem almost likable if you’re not a Patriots or Bucs fan.
Rating: 8 out of 10
Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures