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Anyone who knows me knows I’m a sports fanatic. Major League Baseball (Chicago Cubs), National Collegiate Athletic Association Men’s Basketball (Indiana University), National Hockey League (Chicago Blackhawks) and National Football League (Chicago Bears and Indianapolis Colts) are my jam.
As a Colts fan it’s been my job to dislike Tom Brady for a hot minute, though I must admit I came away liking Brady a whole heckuva lot better after listening to him on Dax Shepard’s “Armchair Expert” podcast a while back. Hot on the heels of Brady’s retirement from the NFL comes “80 for Brady” (now in theaters), which he produced and plays himself in a supporting role.
Four aged gal pals Lou (Lily Tomlin), Trish (Jane Fonda), Maura (Rita Moreno) and Betty (Sally Field) gather to watch their beloved New England Patriots every Sunday. They began doing so back in 2001 when Lou was fighting leukemia and Brady entered the league as a starter. As Lou fought for survival, Brady fought for success. She beat cancer. He won the Super Bowl (his first of seven – six with the Pats, one with the Tampa Bay Bucaneers).
We flash forward 16 years. The ladies still engage in their same pre-game rituals (everyone must sit (or stand) in the same spot, the same beverages and foods must be consumed, chips must inexplicably be spilled on the floor). The Pats are headed to the Super Bowl yet again – this time against the Atlanta Falcons (a memorable game to be sure).
On the precipice of what might be an unfortunate medical prognosis, Lou decides she and her friends must attend the Super Bowl in Houston. Hijinks (muted) and hilarity (muted) ensue.
I must admit I didn’t care much for “80 for Brady” in the early goings. I initially found it cloying, garish and sitcom-y in the worst possible ways. The script by Emily Halpern and Sarah Haskins – both of “Booksmart” – isn’t anywhere near as sharp as their previous work. The direction of Kyle Marvin (best known for writing, producing and starring in indie cycling flick “The Climb”) is workmanlike, but nothing to write home about.
I did fall into the movie’s rhythms once the granny gang leaves Boston for Houston. These four actresses are all pros and admirably elevate the material – I was especially impressed by Moreno and Field both of whom provide the picture its biggest laughs. The presence of Guy Fieri (someone I like just as much if not more so than I dislike Brady) doesn’t hurt matters either. Brady proves to be a pretty decent dramatic actor (I admittedly/embarrassingly cried during speeches Lou gave to Brady and Brady gave to Lou), but he’s entirely inept at doing comedy. The filmmakers are smart enough to surround their all-star quartet with appealing and funny performers such as Billy Porter, Rob Corddry, Alex Moffat, Harry Hamlin, Bob Balaban, Glynn Turman, Sara Gilbert, Jimmy O. Yang, Ron Funches, Matt Lauria, Patton Oswalt and Andy Richter.
The movie, which is very loosely based on a true story, went over big at my crowded screening. Much of the audience was comprised of women of an advanced age. I know I’m not the filmmakers’ target demographic (despite being a football fanatic), but I’d argue “80 for Brady” is mostly gravy and not just for old ladies. It’s a field goal as opposed to a touchdown, but these folks put points on the board.
Saw the trailer for this at YES cinema when I watched A Man Named Otto and The Whale. Decidied it was a must see for me, in spite of my dislike for Tom Brady. Thank you for your spot-on review!!!!!!