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80 For Brady (A Movie Review)

Updated: Feb 3, 2023

80 FOR BRADY (2023)

Starring Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda, Rita Moreno, Sally Field, Tom Brady, Billy Porter, Rob Corddry, Alex Moffat, Guy Fieri, Harry Hamlin, Bob Balaban, Glynn Turman, Sara Gilbert, Jimmy O. Yang, Ron Funches, Matt Lauria, Sally Kirkland, Andy Richter, Alex Bentley, Patton Oswalt, Retta, Marc Rebillet, Rob Gronkowski, Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman.

Screenplay by Emily Halpern and Sarah Haskins.

Directed by Kyle Marvin.

Distributed by Paramount Pictures. 98 minutes. Rated PG-13.

Tom Brady has had a pretty bad year. First of all, after retiring from football on top of his game last year – having won the Super Bowl two years ago and easily made the playoffs in 2021 – he changed his mind at the last minute, came back and had his first losing season in a 23-season NFL career. However, because his division was so bad, his current team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, still won their division with an 8-9 record and snuck into the playoffs, only to be soundly thrashed by the Dallas Cowboys, in a game in which Brady looked decidedly shaky – and was fined by the NFL for a dirty play in which he tripped an opposing player.

At 45, Brady is musing (yet again) whether or not he’s planning on returning to the NFL next year. It seems pretty clear that the Buccaneers – his team for the past three years and the only team he’s played with other than his glory years with the New England Patriots – seem to have moved on, so if he decides to come back it will undoubtedly be with a new team.

(Ed. note: The morning after this article was written Brady announced again that he was retiring from football, this time claiming that it was for good. We’ll see. Then again, perhaps the announcement was just strategically timed to get a bit more promotion for this film’s opening, two days later.)

While all this is happening, Brady is in the middle of what seems to be a very contentious divorce with his supermodel wife Gisele Bundchen. His personal reputation has also taken a series of dings since he was one of the celebrities who endorsed the disgraced and bankrupted cryptocurrency firm FTX. And that is not even touching on his apparent ongoing friendship with one of the most divisive politicians in modern history.

It is in the midst of this colossal losing streak that Brady has decided to make his big leap into moviemaking, acting as one of the producers and playing himself in this vanity puff piece comedy celebrating aging, resilience and… umm… Tom Brady.

And while I don’t believe that 80 For Brady will turn around Tom Brady’s fortunes, the real losers in the film are Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda, Sally Field and Rita Moreno – four entertainment legends who deserve much better than being stuck in this film. The fact is, despite the lack of help from the script, these four actresses almost make it worth sitting through. They certainly bring more to their roles than is really there, just through sheer acting charisma and chops.

They’re not enough to save 80 For Brady, but they are the reason that it is relatively bearable.

80 For Brady is loosely based on the “true” story of lifetime best friends in their 80s (well, technically, Sally Field’s character is 75 and Rita Moreno’s is in her 90s) who decide the only thing that can make their lives complete is to travel to see their favorite team The Patriots, and their hero, Tom Brady, play in the Super Bowl. (80 For Brady takes place at the time of Super Bowl LI, which was in 2017.)

All of the characters have one defining trait: the cancer survivor (Tomlin), the widow (Moreno), the bored wife (Field), the aging party girl (Fonda). They get – and lose – Super Bowl tickets for the big game through a series of sitcom-level complications and end up getting the full NFL treatment in Tampa, partying with b-celebrities like Billy Porter and Guy Fieri.

The script is lightly amusing, but rarely more. It also can’t seem to quite decide what it feels about its lead characters, sometimes embracing them and sometimes mocking them. (More than a little of the humor has a vaguely ageist slant, making fun of these women for their befuddlement and calling them things like “the golden girls.”)

But the film knows one thing for sure. Tom Brady is perfect. No one on screen questions that.

One plus, though, the football footage from the Super Bowl looks amazing on the big screen.

However, every time that the film seems to be flagging, the real all-stars of the film – Tomlin, Fonda, Field and Moreno – put the whole thing on their backs and drive out some much-needed yardage. And while in the end they cannot put 80 For Brady in the win column, they are responsible for it getting as close as it comes.

And Tom Brady, if you really want to give this acting thing a shot as your next chapter, try playing a character other than yourself.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2023 All rights reserved. Posted: February 1, 2023.

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