Star Rating:

80 for Brady

Director: Kyle Marvin

Actors: Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda, Rita Moreno

Release Date: Friday 24th March 2023

Genre(s): Comedy, Drama, Sports

Running time: 98 minutes

A group of lifelong friends (Lily Tomlin, Rita Moreno, Jane Fonda, Sally Field) set off on an adventure of a lifetime - going to the Superbowl to support their team, the New England Patriots, and their hero Tom Brady. Along the way, they encounter new romances (Harry Hamlin), new friends (Billy Porter) and eventually, make it all the way to the Super Bowl...

'80 for Brady' is a confounding movie to write a review about. One of the leading lights of our profession, Roger Ebert, contended that you have to take a movie on its own merits, as a standalone piece of work, and assess whether it's reached its intention and if that intention is clear. Using that as a baseline, '80 for Brady' is a success because it's not trying to be anything else. It's meant to be this lighthearted comedy about a bunch of octagenarians trying to make their way to the Super Bowl, getting into fun setups and scrapes along the way, and celebrating the value of their friendship in their twilight years.

Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin continue their comedy collaboration with all of the comfort of long years spent learning and understanding their rhythms, both of them riffing off one another like a good old-fashioned screwball comedy. Sally Field and Rita Moreno have some of the more spicy setups, with Field hanging out Guy Fieri after chomping her way through a hot wings challenge. Moreno, on the other hand, takes a load of edibles and waltzes through a party and ends up a poker table with Billy Porter, Retta, and Patton Oswalt. Tom Brady appears to Lily Tomlin's character as a vision, urging her onwards when she gets discouraged or comes up against an obstacle she can't charm her way around. Harry Hamlin and Bob Balaban both fill out supporting roles as a romantic interest and a husband respectively. Everybody's basically having a good time on screen.

It's quite easy to scoff at something like '80 for Brady'. You could argue that it's all so trite and clearly designed as an advertisement for the NFL and the Super Bowl - and it probably is. It successfully manipulates you into caring about these things, because the central cast does. All of them have years of experience yucking it up for the camera, and even if it's all relatively inoffensive, it's still reasonably enjoyable. Still, how often is it that a central cast of this age gets this amount of screen time together? Moreover, how often does this kind of thing get a cinematic release?

Again, nobody here is saying '80 for Brady' is terrible or off-putting. It's safe, comforting, funny in a winsome way, and just entirely too kindhearted to put the spurs in.