Synopsis: Four old female friends travel to Houston to watch their hero Tom Brady and the New England Patriots play in Super Bowl LI
Stars: 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
Director: Kyle Marvin
Running Length: 98 minutes
TMMM Score: (6/10)
Review: The moment I got into my car after the 80 for Brady screening, I sent my mom this text:
“You are going to LOVE 80 for Brady.”
“Glud to his it.” (which I know translates to “Glad to hear it!”)
When it came time to sit down and write this review, I had a sinking realization. I didn’t love 80 for Brady. But I want my mom and her friends to see it because I know they will. This is another one of those movies that must be taken with a certain grain of salt and an understanding that perhaps when the filmmakers of this good-natured comedy got together to create this project, they didn’t have my demographic in mind. And that’s OK. In my book, it didn’t need to be a touchdown to be a home run for someone else (see what a did there?).
I could say that I wish the talents of the celebrated stars (three Oscar winners and one Oscar nominee) had been used in a tighter script and a production that didn’t feel so inexpensive and tacky. One that didn’t rest on jokes about retirement homes, broken bones, senility, and getting randy after 70+ years. I long for a movie about older people that won’t use terminal illness as a Sword of Damocles-ish way to get them out of their houses and live their lives. And I really could do with less of the lusty single octogenarians who have been divorced multiple times but still somehow need to be shamed about their late-in-life romantic foibles.
80 for Brady has all of that, which was a bummer for me and why I didn’t enjoy it as much as I could have. I’m grading it for what it could have been because that’s my job here. If we look at it from the view of people excited by the prospect of seeing the likes of Lily Tomlin (Grandma), Jane Fonda (Book Club), Rita Moreno (West Side Story), and Sally Field (Spoiler Alert) hitting the road for comic shenanigans as they try to get into the 2017 Super Bowl, the outlook is far sunnier.
Fans of these pros will undoubtedly be swept away (as was the audience I saw it with) by the story, inspired by a true tale of four women so enamored with their love of football and one particular team/player that they trekked to Houston to see the big game. Elements of the story have been changed for the movie, and screenwriters Sarah Haskins and Emily Halpern crafted more personal backstories for each.
Tomlin’s Lou is a cancer survivor and de facto leader of the group, bringing them all together in football during her treatment. Trish (Fonda) loves a wig and falls head over hairpiece for any handsome man that comes her way. Still adjusting to being a widow, Maura (Moreno) can’t give up her apartment or the room in the senior living center she’s been keeping at the ready. Then there’s Betty (Field), an empty nest-er that finds herself having to play mother to her needy husband (Bob Balaban, Fading Gigolo).
All the women are ready for this road trip, and while the details of how they get on the road are sketchy (don’t even get me started on how three of them “break” Maura out of her elder care), arriving in Houston poses another set of problems. An admittedly funny romp at a mansion where all four unknowingly get stoned adds some zip at the midway point. Still, aside from a brief bit of zing from the appearance of Billy Porter (Like a Boss) as a choreographer with connections, unnecessary drama threatens to derail what, up until then, had been a mild and cheery outing.
Director Kyle Marvin makes his feature film directing debut, and it shows. While the sets don’t look nearly as sound stagey as they did on Tomlin and Fonda’s Netflix series Grace & Frankie, most of them appear like the paint is still wet or a strong gust of wind could knock them over. Continuity is a problem, as is general logic throughout. Technical nitpicks are largely thrown out the door when you are being stared down by any of the imposing stars. All four exude such bright light that it makes 80 for Brady almost impossible to dismiss entirely. One thing is for sure. If you can’t get in touch with your mom/grandmother this weekend – check your local listing for the showing of 80 for Brady closest to them, and you’ll know where they are.