80 for Brady
It’s 2017 and the Patriots are headed to the Superbowl. Four older women from Massachusetts with a fondness for famed NFL quarterback Tom Brady decide to attend. What ensues is a charming yet underwhelming series of events featuring a range of cameos that begs the question, “was most of the budget spent on talent?”
Perhaps what is most baffling about “80 for Brady” is that some of the greatest actresses of all-time star in this uplifting comedy from “Booksmart” screenwriters Sarah Haskins and Emily Halpern. Sally Field, Jane Fonda, Rita Moreno and Lily Tomlin have five Academy Awards, 13 Emmy Awards and 12 Golden Globes among them — and the list goes on. Their collective star power, experience and acting prowess, in addition to their clear love and respect for one another, make a rather delightful film that would otherwise be somewhere between disastrous and average.
The lead-up to the Superbowl is certainly the strongest portion of the film. The four women, Betty (Field), Lou (Tomlin), Maura (Moreno) and Trish (Fonda), visit the NFL Experience in Houston where they each have their own triumphs throughout the day. Betty wins Guy Fieri’s Spicy BBQ Hot Wings Challenge (much to Fieri’s surprise) and Trish holds an impromptu fan reading of her Rob Gronkowski erotica book. The ladies are invited to a pre-Superbowl party where they get high on edibles and Maura unwittingly enters a private charity poker game with some recognizable names in entertainment and sports like Marshawn Lynch, Patton Oswalt and Billy Porter. These bizarre and unexpected moments are where the film thrives. There are some great bits that are made even better by the comedic timing of these four legendary actresses.
Unfortunately, one of the more absurd aspects of “80 for Brady” that just does not land is a scene where Lou imagines Brady is talking to her via a bobblehead figure of him and another where he speaks to her through a television interview playing outside the stadium at the Superbowl. It could have been amusing — or at the very least, interesting — but Tom Brady’s stiff, cult leader-like line delivery makes the intentionally uplifting lines he’s saying sound strangely ominous, pulling the viewer out of the story. While undoubtedly a brilliant quarterback, Brady is no actor and that is immediately evident from the first line he utters.
Ironically, there is a scene near the end of the film where Brady says he will never retire. Of course, he would have to retire at some point, but it’s even more awkward given that he announced his retirement a mere two days prior to “80 for Brady”’s release Feb. 3. While this is by no means the fault of the writers or of the director, Kyle Marvin, it creates an issue within the film that is rather unfortunate: This sincere, inspirational moment becomes difficult to take seriously.
While the scenes with Brady himself are rather uninspired, overexaggerated and unintentionally awkward, the uplifting message of the film still finds its way into viewers’ hearts. The women all have needs and wants which they articulate clearly. Their lives and relationships with one another and with the other people they care about are utterly endearing. This is ultimately a story about friendship and platonic love above all else.
Through all that these women experience during their trip to the Superbowl, they find themselves. Even at their age, they are still learning about who they are and about life, which is truly something worth celebrating. Despite Marvin’s bland direction and Brady’s lack of effort, the film is still quite pleasant, as long as one is able to look past some of the cheesiness of the story and the dull, almost cheap-looking visuals.