80 for Brady (2023) Review
OF FRIENDSHIP, FOOTBALL,
AND TOM BRADY
Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Jr….is known to the sports world by another name…. Tom Brady, earning a highly coveted position amongst the National Football league and has earned the respected title of G.O.A.T. (Greatest of all Time) within American Football. Drafted into the league in 2000, Brady was the 199th overall pick (earning a reputation as the NFL’s biggest draft steal ever) and joined the New England Patriots. By his second season with the Patriots, Brady became the starting quarterback for them, which saw them win their first Super Bowl title in Super Bowl XXXVI. This began the Patriot’s dynasty, with Brady (along with head coach Bill Belichick) being a central contributor to the franchise from 2001 to 2019, with star quarterback leading the organization to 17 division titles, 13 AFC Championship games, nine Super Bowl appearances, and six Super Bowl titles. During the final years of his career, he joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers team, and led the team to victory in Super Bowl LV, securing his seven Super Bowl ring. Retiring from the game, the legacy of Tom Brady endures, with the famed quarterback winning multiple awards and titles during his time playing the game and is widely regard as the greatest quarterback of all time and one of the greatest players in NFL history. Now, Paramount Pictures and director Kyle Marvin present a new movie that talks about four senior citizens getting the chance to see Tom Brady at Super Bowl LI in the film 80 for Brady. Does the movie find a proper balance of comedy and heart within its sports comedy narrative or is it a just a forgetful throwaway to embellish the glory praise of Tom Brady?
Back in 2017, longtime best friends Lou (Lilly Tomlin), Trish (Jane Fonda), Maura (Rita Moreno), and Betty (Sally Field) and are deeply in love with the New England Patriots football team as they make their run to Super Bowl LI, with quarterback Tom Brady in command. The elderly foursome are extremely superstitious about the team, yet are excited to see that their favorite team is heading to the “big show” against the Atlanta Falcons, holding a desire to go to the Super Bowl and dreaming up the chance to see Brady play in person. Learning about a local radio context for four tickets, Lou sells her story of friendship and passion for the Patriots to acquire the seats, ultimately scoring the once-in-a-lifetime chance to see the game live. Traveling to Texas, the ladies experience the adventure of a lifetime when the tickets go missing, forcing the gang to drum up an alternative way to getting into the stadium. Dealing with security enforcement and other misadventures along the way, Lou, Trish, Maura, and Betty soon reflect on their own personal experiences in both love and life, maintain inspiration to see Brady lead the Patriots when Super Bowl LI.
THE GOOD / THE BAD
While I do love cinematic movies and theatrical films, I do love watching and going to sporting events. Growing up in the suburbs of Maryland / Washington D.C. area, I grew up watching a lot of teams within that area, including the Washington Redskins (Commanders as they are now called), the DC Wizards, and the Baltimore Orioles, just to name a few. So, of course, while watching Football every Sunday, I do remember seeing the rise of Tom Brady throughout his tenure as quarterback in the New England Patriots football organization (and then to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers late in his career) and how much he had amassed during that time with winning games, awards, titles, and a collection of Super Bowl ring. While some do have mixed feelings on Brady himself, I do find him to be an interesting individual, especially since he was the 199th picked of the NFL Draft, and how really no team wanted him. Flash forward years later to see how much of a “Cinderella story” has become, with Brady garnishing fame, respect, and popularity amongst fans, players, sports broadcasters, and a great host of others, who watched him becoming the G.O.A.T. when no one really saw that in him when he was first drafted in the league. In truth, Brady’s career in the NFL is a testament to perseverance and determination, proving doubters wrong and believing in one’s talent and skills.
Naturally, this brings me back around to talking about 80 for Brady, a sports comedy / romantic comedy endeavor that seeks to capitalize on the popularity of Tom Brady’s fame as the G.O.A.T. To be quite honest, I really didn’t hear much about this project when it was first announced, for nothing was really mentioned about it when it hit the internet sometime ago. I think my “first impression” of this movie came in the form of the film’s movie trailer, which showcased a very surreal situation (to me at least) as four elderly women venturing to Super Bowl LI to see Tom Brady and the New England Patriots square off against the Atlanta Falcons. From the preview alone, it looked to be quite an amusing feature, with plenty of lighthearted moments and with a talented group of four leading ladies (i.e. Tomlin, Fonda, Moreno, and Field) and (of course) Tom Brady himself. Whether it was for a love of football or just something akin to Book Club, I was interested to seeing 80 for Brady. I did decide to check out this movie when it was scheduled to be released on February 3rd, 2023, but, due to my work schedule and delaying my 2023 reviews so I could “finish up” posting my 2022 leftover reviews, I had to keep pushing back my review for 80 for Brady. Now, nearing the end of the year, I’m finally ready to share my personal thoughts on this film. And what did I think of it? Well, I actually liked it for what it was. Despite having a very thin and sometime silly plot, 80 for Brady does manage to elevate itself thanks to its four leading ladies and surreal premise of a quartet of elders journeying to the Super Bowl to see Tom Brady. It’s a bit goofy at times, but the initial setup of it all seems to work in the film’s favor, finding comedic bits and friendship heart at the center of this romantic-comedy-esque of relationships and football.
80 for Brady is directed by Kyle Marvin, whose previous works includes for the TV series All Wrong (as a director) as well as The Climb and Hunter Gather (as an executive producer). Thus, given his background in the film world, Marvin certainly makes the most of his time on this project and makes this movie his most ambitious project (i.e. his sophomore directed feature). To his credit, I think that Marvin did a pretty decent job helming this project. Granted, I didn’t expect much from this movie in the ways and means of super dramatic or Oscar-worthy or anything of that particular caliber, but I was surprised how much fun the project was, especially with Marvin knowing to place a lot of the film’s credibility into the hands of seasoned acting talent of its four leading ladies. With that in mind, 80 for Brady succeeds in making the whole endeavor quite amusing and lighthearted, with a story (though simple and sometimes gets a bit too carried away) that it is still easy to digest in a viewing experience. At its center, the movie is about the four friends (Lou, Trish, Maura, and Beth) and how their love of the game football (and Tom Brady) propels them to make go on a bizarre misadventure journey of getting to the Super Bowl, with plenty of comical scenarios and situations that they find themselves in. It’s all goofy fun and I sort of expected this, so it was quite enjoyable to watch. Heck, I did laugh more times in this movie than some full-blown comedy movies of late. Of course, the jokes and gags are not the sharpest written material, but still manages to be handled the correct and especially by the acting talent that delivers them. It’s definitely a credit to them (as well as to Marvin) for their efforts in making 80 for Brady fun and entertaining.
There are also plenty of personal journeys that the quartet of elders find themselves and, while some could’ve been expanded upon (more on that below), the result gives them plenty of context and insight into their personal lives and what they learn on this journey to see Super Bowl LI. Naturally, the football aspect is indeed integrated to the main storyline of this movie, so (of course) sports fans out there can partake in the fandom that surrounded Tom Brady, the Patriots (even a bit of the Atlanta Falcons), and the whole endeavor of Super Bowl LI. It’s not the most ambitious demonstration of American Football gridiron experience in a film, but it sure gives enough to make the project enjoyable for its fandom and incorporates live-action footage from the actual game and other perihelial sports nuances. Plus, it was kind of fun to see the four elderly ladies bouncing around such a football event in a silly and sometimes corny way. In addition, I felt that the movie was quite breezy and easy to digest, with the feature having a somewhat short runtime of 98 minutes (one hour and thirty-eight minutes). In truth, I felt that the project didn’t feel sluggish or aimless as Marvin kept his eye on the prize / goal for the four ladies and the journey of going to the Super Bowl LI. While, yes….some parts were a bit carried away with its silly humor, but it was still fun and able to make the picture lighthearted. In the end, Marvin’s 80 for Brady, while not the “must see” of the year, still manages to make the most of its premise (and then some) and provides plenty of humorous distraction, a few tender moments of lasting friendships, and the love of gridiron game.
In the presentation category, 80 for Brady definitely meets the “industry standards” for project of this caliber with enough polish and vibrance to make the whole endeavor appealing to the eye. While that might sound a bit like “mediocre” expression, the movie itself (narrative and characters) don’t exactly call for expansiveness and elaborate set designs to tell its story / plot. Thus, what’s presented definitely works and has enough to make the whole experience “visually pleasing” to look and (again) meets what I would expect from a movie of this particular genre. Thus, the film’s “behind the scenes” key players, including Wynn Thomas (production design), Thomas P. Wilkins (art direction), Jon J. Bush and Henry Somarriba (set decorations), and Allyson B. Fanger (costume design) should be commended for their efforts made on this project and help provide a fun visual playground for the various character to play around in. Likewise, the cinematography work by John Toll is decent enough in a few areas where it is utilized for some dramatic purposes. I do also have to mention that the editing work by Colin Patton is pretty slick in few areas as the feature does utilizes some of the footage from Super Bowl LI and integrate it into the actual film, which does lend credibility towards the third act set piece. Lastly, while the film’s score, which was composed by John Debney, is pretty good and hits all the right notes and moments in the correct way, 80 for Brady does boast a good soundtrack of musical songs throughout its runtime, which is provides some great fun from artists such as Kool and the Gang, Con Funk Shun, The Steppers, and several others.
Unfortunately, 80 for Brady does suffer from several points of criticism that do weigh the feature down throughout its duration. Perhaps the most prevalent one that immediately comes to mind is how simplistic and predictable the film’s nature is. Of course, given the movie’s premise, I wasn’t expecting anything deep or complex in a story about four elderly women going to the Super Bowl and getting caught up in several shenanigan scenarios along the way, but there is problematic areas that the movie’s narrative struggles to find a balanced rhythm. Naturally, this comes at the expense of the film’s script, which was penned by Sarah Haskins and Emily Halpern, and feels a bit too simplistic all the way around. Again, I had a feeling like this was going to be the case, especially after seeing the film’s previews a few times, but I think that the main premise of the movie needed a bit more substance throughout the feature’s entirety. In conjunction with this criticism, the script is very straightforward in what it wants to tell and doesn’t really color outside the parameters line of this genre. Thus, the movie itself is quite rudimentary and predictable, with plenty of formulaic cliches and familiar tropes that are customary to similar endeavors like this. That’s not to say that those tropes are fun and can be utilized to a certain degree, but I felt like the script shaping (and sometimes the overall execution) didn’t challenge itself enough, which makes 80 for Brady too simple.
In addition, the film’s script gets a little bit carried away with itself within its own surreal navigation sequence of events. Some things I could see happen in the movie (albeit a bit “one-in-a million” chance of it), but some of things sequences and / or events that the four women get caught up in after quite farfetched and would never happen in reality. Thus, that feeling of the feature being “real” is quite obviously it’s not and did take me out of the viewing experience of a few, with those silly scenarios being too silly and off-the wall to be taken seriously. I sort of figured that was going to be the case, so it didn’t quite bother me as much as some viewers out there, but I wish that the movie could’ve done something a bit more “grounded” approach rather than stirring up some “oh, come on” moments.
In truth, I really felt that the movie could’ve been longer in a few key areas. As mentioned, the film does have breezy runtime to its credit and that is a good thing to have, but there was plenty more room for the feature to explore. While the sense of urgency is felt in the movie as the character move through the plot, there were pockets and particular areas where certain events and / or characterizations could’ve been easily expanded upon to flesh out some elements. This, of course, some more slapstick comedy scenarios and some character-building moments that are presented, but sort of fizzled out by the time reaches its conclusion. Thus, there’s definitely a feeling that 80 for Brady could’ve benefited from a little bit longer runtime (maybe 10 or so minutes longer) to help flesh out a few details and more time for a wholesome experience…..in both comedy angles and character driven scenes.
What definitely helps elevate those criticism is 80 for Brady’s cast, with most of the acting talent involved bring their screen presence to the proceedings. Of course, the script’s flatness does come to play in this portion, with the actors / actresses do their best with the material given to them. Thankfully, most of them do a good job in making these rather “broad” character come to life with just pure “charisma” from the talents that portray them. Leading the charge in the movie are the film’s main four leading quartet of women (Lou, Trish, Maura, and Betty), who are played by actresses Lilly Tomlin, Jane Fonda, Rita Moreno, and Sally Field respectfully. For her part, Tomlin, who is known for her roles in 9 to 5, Moving On, and The Magic School Bus, acts as the true main character of the feature, with the other three ladies acting as main supporting players in the movie. Thus, Tomlin’s Lou is the sort of “beating heart” of 80 for Brady and she makes the most of her time on the project, acting as the more serious one of the elderly ladies and trying to hold everything together as a “woman on mission” mantra. Her character development is very straightforward, so there isn’t anything much to it. That being said, there is a subplot involving her daughter and some health concerns that she isn’t divulging to anyone. This particular aspect seems a bit “half baked” and could’ve been handle better. Nevertheless, Tomlin is perfectly fine with her dry wit and humorous monotone delivery of lines, which makes Lou the clue that holds the rest of the ladies (and the movie) together.
Behind her Fonda, who is known for her roles in Monster-in Law, Book Club, and Barbella, gets the most humorous role of the group with her portrayal of Trish, a character who has seeing relationships come and go and has written her own erotic fan football fiction on New England tight end Rob Gronkowski, being quite amusing throughout the film. Although, the character herself is nothing new to Fonda and is almost a stereotype of what the actress has done in the past. Still, Fonda does make the most of her time on this project and finds the right amount of humor based jokes to be hysterical. Next, Moreno, who is known for her roles in Oz, The King and I, and West Side Story, gives a passionate take on Maura, who is looking for love after the loss of her husband and trying to find peace within herslf. I’ve always loved Moreno, so to see her in a picture like this is quite delightful. Plus, some of her comedy bits are hilarious to watch. Lastly, Fields, who is known for her roles in Forrest Gump, Lincoln, and Smokey and the Bandit, does give a humorous (and sometimes endearing) performance as Betty, a woman who is caught in-between find happiness in her life and hovering over her worrisome husband. Some of the best comedic situations come from Betty’s character getting caught up in some zany stuff, with Fields up to the task of hitting that mark every time.
Altogether, the four leading ladies gel quite well with each other whenever on-screen, with their chemistry coming across beautifully and makes their respective friendships towards one another that much more believable. Even if a person doesn’t particular care for this movie, there is no denying the fact that it was such a treat to see Tomlin, Fonda, Moreno, and Fields together on this project and enjoying their time doing it.
The rest of the cast, including actress Sara Gilbert (Roseanne and Poison Ivy) as Lou’s daughter Sara, actor Bob Balaban (Capote and Gosford Park) as Betty’s husband Mark, actor Harry Hamlin (Mad Men and L.A. Law) as Dan, actor Alex Moffat (Holidate and Ralph Breaks the Internet) as Nat, actor Rob Corddry (Office Christmas Party and Childrens Hospital) as Pat, actor Glynn Turman (Super 8 and Sahara) as Mickey, actor Ron Funches (Trolls and Once Upon a Time in Venice) as Chip, actor Jimmy O. Yang (Patriots Day and Crazy Rich Asians) as Tony, actor Matt Lauria (Kingdom and Parenthood) as James, actress Sally Kirkland (Anna and JFK) as Sara, actor Andy Richter (Cabin Boy and Semi-Pro) as Clark, actor Gus Kenworthy (Olympic Dreams and American Horror Story) as Erik, actor Brian Jordan Alvarez (M3GAN and Will & Grace) as Derek, TV personality / actor Billy Porter (Cinderella and Like a Boss) as Gugu, and pro football player Marshawn Lynch, comedian actor Patton Oswalt (Ratatouille and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty), actress Retta (Parks & Recreation and To the Bone), and realty TV personality Guy Fieri (Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives) who appear in the movie as themselves, make up the remaining characters in the movie. Naturally, some have more scenes than others and (of course) others could’ve been expanded upon a bit more, but, for their part, the acting talent in this grouping was relatively good and help builds upon the film’s rapport in sentimentality and large-than-life comedic aspects.
As for Tom Brady…he does appear in the movie, yet his actual placement in the feature is a bit more limited than what some were expecting. For me, I knew that he wasn’t going to be in the movie as much as some were planning on, but, for what it’s worth, Brady does certainly handle himself well. Thus, no harm, no foul. In addition, there are several other NE Patriot players that appear in the movie (in the same minor capacity) and, while I won’t spoil their appearance, it was still fun to see them in this project.
Hoping to strengthen the friendship bonds and offer up distraction to their own personal lives, Lou, along with her friends (Trish, Maura, and Betty) get tickets to Super Bowl LI to cheer on the New England Patriots and their favorite QB Tom Brady in the movie 80 for Brady. Director Kyle Marvin’s latest film takes the popularity of Tom Brady and translates into a somewhat “romantic comedy” endeavor, finding the gimmicks and heart within four elderly ladies as they venture to see their favorite team go to the Super Bowl. While the conventional plot is a bit formulaic and some particular moments get a bit too silly at times, the movie still makes up for with its quirky premise that provides plenty of moments of heart and laughs along the way as well as some solid performances from the four leading actresses in the movie. Personally, I found this movie to be fun. Yes, it gets a tad overexaggerated at some points and certain characters side stories are not fully realized, including predictable aspects, but I thought that the feature was still amusing and lighthearted enough to make for enjoyable watch. It’s mileage may vary depending on the viewer who watches it, but it was nice “fluff” piece that’s quite harmless to watch and easy to digest. Thus, my recommendation for this movie would be a solid “rent it” as I would say that holds enough charm for a rental “one time” experience that’s entreating to those in the “Girl Night In” grouping as well as some casual moviegoers. In the end, 80 for Brady, while not breaking any type of barriers in ways and means of original storytelling or in character presentation, but delivers on what it sets out to be as an easygoing and carefree tale that mixes elderly female friendship (and shenanigans) with football and (of course) the fandom passion of Tom Brady.
3.7 Out of 5 (Rent It)
Released On: February 3rd, 2023
Reviewed On: November 14th, 2023
80 for Brady is 98 minutes long and is rated PG-13 for brief strong language, some drug content, and some suggestive references