Amiable Football Comedy’s Sitcom Antics Make For A Decent Enough Experience

Feb 15, 2023

Tom Brady magically appears a few times throughout his first post-second-retirement win, “80 for Brady,” speaking to a super-fan played by Lily Tomlin. In one moment, she’s in the middle of a football throwing contest that takes place during other parts of her raucous Super Bowl adventure, and Brady offers sage advice straight from his historic quarterbacking experience: “Don’t worry about how hard you throw it—it’s all about accuracy and focus.” Tomlin’s Lou scores big using this advice, but so does director Kyle Marvin, who delivers an amiable comedy with four superstars sharing sitcom-ready antics while wearing Brady’s jersey in sequins. 
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“80 for Brady” is based on a true story about four octogenarian women from Massachusetts who traveled to the Super Bowl in 2017 and saw Brady and the New England Patriots achieve a historic comeback against the Atlanta Falcons. That’s about where the reality ends for the script by Emily Halpern and Sarah Haskins, a smart heartwarmer that is hit-and-miss with its cutesy comedy but is plenty of fun with its flights of fantasy. Even more than NFL product placement, the movie is inspired by the energy of the ‘80s feminist classic “9 to 5.” It brings back cast members Tomlin and Jane Fonda (with Dolly Parton singing the post-credits song), but instead of cartoon characters shaking up reality for these bold women, it’s NFL players like Brady and celebrities like Billy Porter, Patton Oswalt, and Retta. 
Tomlin’s stubborn and vivacious Lou is the leader of the quartet, having fallen for Brady years ago when he scored his first big touchdown after filling in for Drew Bledsoe. She was going through chemo at the time, and the experience gave her something of a new life excitement. Now she hosts the group’s viewing parties, with superstitions about repeating where everyone was before Brady’s career-changing play. Betty (Sally Field) has to be on a ladder, Maura (Rita Moreno) has to have some tea, and Fonda’s Trish has to sit in the same spot. The four have been bonding over Brady for years—following his ascendance through football history with multiple Super Bowl wins—but have never thought to see that happen in person. 
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In ways that are clumsily handled by the script, the quartet nonetheless acquires tickets to the Super Bowl in Houston. But the movie isn’t about how they get the opportunity, more that it gets them there. (“80 for Brady” thrives on not questioning the different things it puts into motion, so we won’t.) Before they get down to Houston, “80 for Brady” takes a few extraneous beats to sneak Maura out of her nursing home, even though she’s not captive and just merely knocked out on sleeping pills. But at least it provides Glynn Turman some sweet screen time as a resident who is crushing on Maura and helps thwart a worker named Tony (Jimmy O. Yang). 
Marvin is by no means trying to shake up anything with his presentation; sometimes, the easy humor, once the women are experiencing Super Bowl weekend in Houston, has the same lack of ambition. “80 for Brady” can go from one cartoonish and mildly amusing sequence to the next, piling on the laugh-track-ready hijinks that riff on their naïveté (a gummy bag of weed edibles) or not knowing how younger folks do things (a cheesy bit where Sally Field learns what negging is). The grab-bag of cameos is more noteworthy than the filmmaking throwing them the party, but at least the faces pop: the movie gets its Guy Fieri-worth for sure, and Billy Porter helps enliven the movie further with a dance number that sends the movie into its delightful third act. 
Without losing its momentum, “80 for Brady” tends to the individual arcs of its four women throughout, which includes the chemo results that Lou has been avoiding or the loss that lingers with Maura when she lays in bed at night. Meanwhile, Trish faces a pattern with her relationships when she meets a former Super Bowl champion, played by Harry Hamlin, and Betty learns to set a boundary with her needy husband (played by Bob Balaban).
Throughout, Marvin’s direction has a firm grip on its light tone like a bouquet of balloons, and the movie only becomes more charming the more it gives space from plausibility. “80 for Brady” becomes an unabashed fantasy—including how the women influence the game—that’s then intertwined with an amazing sports story for Brady and the Patriots (shown with on-the-field clips), and it makes for a uniquely cozy spectator tale. As an end-credit snapshot reveals, the women look nothing like their counterparts, and yet it’s the gratuitous spirit of “80 for Brady” that becomes its big selling point. The film’s sincerity is equal to its goofiness, and it goes a long way.  
This is a movie for the fans: for admirers of its many stars, for people who love a good real-life and feel-good narrative, and even those who really love Guy Fieri. The least nourished group, aside from Atlanta Falcons fans, are probably those of Marvin’s incredible, highly recommended co-directorial debut, “The Climb,” which has Herculean long-takes and comedic risks that make “80 for Brady” look like Junior Varsity in comparison. Nonetheless, “80 for Brady” displays how Marvin’s sensibilities about friendship are primed for a mass audience. He knows the audience and, more importantly, that no one will mistake what he’s aiming for here. [B]
“80 For Brady” is in theaters now.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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