One of the problems with “80 for Brady” is the Tom Brady-ness of it all. Not that I’m one of those TB12 haters, but outside of New England (and to an extent, Tampa), I’m not sure about the audience appetite for a movie about a group of seniors who love Tom Brady — a movie that was produced by Tom Brady and is filled with Tom Brady memorabilia and is capped off by an extended cameo in which Tom Brady plays Tom Brady.
It’s going to be a particularly tough sell in Atlanta, seeing as how the film’s climactic scenes take place at Super Bowl LI, where Brady’s New England Patriots rallied from a 28-3 deficit to beat the Falcons in overtime in one of greatest championship game comebacks ever. As for those of us who recognize Brady as the GOAT but aren’t particularly hyped to see a movie that worships at the altar of Brady (as well as the NFL and product placement in general): The best thing about “80 for Brady” is seeing legendary icons Rita Moreno, Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda and Sally Field having a grand old time playing the diehard Patriots/Brady fans who make the pilgrimage from Massachusetts to Houston to see their team in the Super Bowl. Only Tomlin attempts a Boston accent, and that comes and goes, but they all look great, and they light up their screen with their overall wonderfulness. Maybe someday soon they’ll get a project worthy of their magnificent talents!
This is not that project.
’80 for Brady’
With a jokey, clunky, clich?-riddled screenplay by Sarah Haskins and Emily Halpern that is 100 yards away from the brilliance of their script for “Booksmart,” serviceable but not particularly stylish direction by Kyle Marvin (“The Climb”), “80 for Brady” is so pleasant and vacant it’s like a party guest everybody forgets 10 minutes after they leave. There are a few chuckles sprinkled here and there, but for a movie about football it doesn’t seem to know all that much about football (certain scenes that transpire during the Super Bowl are cartoonishly implausible), and the four primary characters are rather thinly drawn.
For nearly 20 years, Tomlin’s Lou, a cancer survivor, has been hosting Patriots viewing parties at her home, with her three best friends always in attendance. Jane Fonda’s Trish is a bombshell who writes Rob Gronkowski-themed erotic fan fiction, and no I’m not kidding, she has authored books with titles such as “Between a Gronk and a Hard Place,” apparently never married and still has a very active dating life.” Sally Field’s Betty is a retired professor of mathematics who is all about analytics and taking care of her clueless husband (Bob Balaban), who literally forgets to put on his pants until she reminds him, twice. Rita Moreno’s Maura is recently widowed and has a penchant for gambling.
That’s pretty much all we know about the ladies save for a few twists I won’t spoil. If you’re guessing this is the kind of movie that features an Accidental Ingesting of Edibles as well as a Quickly Choreographed Dance Number, you wouldn’t be wrong.
Guy Fieri shows up as Guy Fieri, who presides over a wings-with-hot-sauce competition at the NFL Experience, which is treated like some kind of holy shrine by this movie. Harry Hamlin plays Dan, a former NFL player who has two Super Bowl rings and takes a shine to Trish. Billy Porter drops in as Lady Gaga’s choreographer. Patton Oswalt is in a poker scene for about 50 seconds. Brady sports a 2017 Tom Brady haircut and is a bit stiff playing himself. Gronk is funnier and more natural playing himself.
For the first three quarters, “80 For Brady” is pleasant, comfort-viewing fluff. In the fourth quarter, it collapses under a blitz of absurdity, falling apart like the Falcons did against the Patriots.