If you’ve seen any recent National Football game, you’ve likely been bombarded with ads of the film starring four screen legends, Lilly Tomlin, Jane Fonda, Rita Moreno, and Sally Field as friend who go on a quest to Houston, Texas to see their much beloved Tom Brady win Super Bowl LI. The ads appeared noisy and immensely grating, looking like an embarrassment for its acclaimed stars. Thankfully, its far from the disaster the ubiquitous marketing makes it appear, but struggles to rise above being merely serviceable.
Many creative liberties were taken in this broad studio comedy loosely based on a true story of a group of elderly firends that traveled to the 2017 Super Bowl to see their beloved (then) Quarterback of the New England Patriots, Tom Brady. 80 for Brady, produced by the man, himself, isn’t some unholy concoction, or even some off putting brand exercise in synergy like Space Jam: A New Legacy, but it is a major studio comedy that ultimately coasts on the star power of its legendary cast.
There’s Lou (6x Emmy, 2x Tony and Grammy winner Lily Tomlin), whose recent cancer diagnosis jump-starts the decision to go to the Super Bowl. Trish (2x Oscar, 7x Golden Globe and Emmy winner Jane Fonda), an author known for her series of erotic fan fiction novels about (then) Patriots Tight End Rob Gronkowski. Former MIT Professor, Betty (3x Emmy, 2x Oscar and 2x Golden Globe winner Sally Field) and finally, Maura (EGOT receiver, herself, Rita Moreno), a recent widow staying in a retirement home. In this fictitious story, the women win Super Bowl tickets from a radio contest and set off to Houston for a crazy weekend.
Actor/writer-turned director Kyle Marvin does little to elevate 80 for Brady from feeling like a sitcom-level production. The hyperactive editing often undercuts the comedic timing of its leading ladies, which is often the only glimmer of light in a number of stale sequences. Penned by Booksmart writers Sarah Haskins and Emily Halpern, the script establish the personality of each character well enough, with Field and Tomlin gives the most sense of pathos in the films fleeting glimpses of heart. However, the gags are simply too inconsistent to land. Thankfully not as cringeworthy as the marketing would make you think, the scripted hijinks don’t have much spark or wit. There’s a scene where Sally Field enters a hot wing eating contest hosted by Guy Fieri but leads to no big punch line. A later party scene features the ladies indulging in weed gummies only for Rita Moreno to hallucinate everyone’s faces replaced with Guy FIeri, including her own. Apart from the usual chuckle, most of the gags are lame.
The moments that allow the many four leads to interact with one another, separate from the forced hijinks, offer the effortless entertainment you expect from these screen legends. When its not effectively ruining the meme of Guy Fieri, the few attempts at absurdism are inspired. A literal late-in-the-game motivational speech from Tomlin has a spark of self-aware satire to the usual narrative trope that the film could’ve used more of. The breakout of Moreno’s Maura from a retirement home has the films few funny visual gags.
Rounded by a vast supporting cast to fill out stock characters, 80 for Brady builds an assembly line of reliable actors to interact with our four leads. Harry Hamlin is an ex-NFL star that serves as the love interest to Jane Fonda. Sara Gilbert is Tomlin’s concerned workaholic daughter who we only see on the phone sharing concern to Lily Tomlin about her ominous test results. Bob Balaban is Sally Field’s overbearing writer husband that means well, but far strains his wife’s ability as his editor. Glynn Turman has nice chemistry with Rita Moreno as a fellow widow who offers her comfort. Billy Porter, Ron Funches, Gronk and countless others appear in cameos, attempting to offer their credibility to the material. As expected, the man, himself, Tom Brady, makes an appearance. Setting aside any personal feelings, the films does its best to weave its character worship of Brady and the NFL to a bearable degree. Even casual football fans like myself remember the infamous 2007 season with the unstoppable Brady leading the New England Patriots alongside Randy Moss. And especially the very Super Bowl of which takes place. Brady may be the GOAT, but he’s no actor — save for one humorous reaction shot.
80 for Brady has its number of gentle laughs and infectious charisma from its quartet of iconic stars. However, the scripted jokes don’t often land and lead to many dull spots in the runtime. Its a pleasant film overall, one that you can see with your parents or grandparents, but would benefit from a wittier script and more skilled execution.