80 for Brady review by Mark McPherson - Cinema Paradiso
An easygoing nature 80 For Brady makes it hard to get mad at. It’s also hard to find any fun in this lukewarm comedy that ambles about trying to find fun stuff to do with its powerful foursome of aged and stellar actresses. The film is based on a true story that was probably worthy of a short YouTube video but not strong enough to be a compelling feature film. Thus, this comedy tries to whip up this story to stronger levels of absurdity and the emotional bonds of ladies over football. It’s a valiant effort but one that doesn’t quite land itself as little more than boomer humor, too gentle to be offensive yet too basic to be hilarious.
The story centers around the long-time friends Lou (Lily Tomlin), Trish (Jane Fonda), Maura (Rita Moreno), and Betty (Sally Field). Lou recovered from cancer and could only keep her spirits up thanks to watching football and salivating over Tom Brady. Since then, her friends have joined her in every game to celebrate Brady and keep their tradition alive. In 2017, Lou got a great idea to head to the Super Bowl with her friends. She schemes to win a contest to showcase how her gal-pals are major Patriots fans. Lou reports that she has the tickets, and they’re off to the Super Bowl to make a dream come true.
Now those elements are the barebones of the true story. The rest is whipped up to find the most humor possible. The characters are decently exaggerated, with Lou being the straight one, Trish being the sexually active one, Maura being a retirement home woman unsure of others, and Betty being a neurotic nerd uncertain of how to have fun amid her needy husband. They breeze their way through a series of ho-hum Golden Girls gags. And don’t think the film is below making that obvious pop culture reference.
It’s surprising how much fun could be had with this concept, and it never takes off. Lou keeps hallucinating Tom Brady is talking directly to her as inspiration to keep pushing toward Super Bowl. But all Brady does is echo the same “don’t-give-up” speeches without any playfulness beyond someone nearby side-eyeing her if she talks back to her vision of Brady. Considering Brady played a hand in producing this film, it’s surprising he doesn’t embrace a more absurd approach to this story. Instead, Brady’s idolization pays off the same way it would in a kid’s movie where the kids obsess over an athlete.
Another surprise appearance is Guy Fieri playing himself and hosting hot wings eating competitions. A lot of fun could be staged when Guy watches Betty compete and later invites them to a party. Yet the entirety of the joke is that Guy is present and looks like a flaming-hot Cheeto. Even the wildest moment of having him be the hallucinatory figure that Maura can see everywhere when she’s on drugs feels like the same joke told over and over. For as funny as having the food lover in a movie, there’s a wall to how much comedy you can get out of that concept.
There’s an emotional core to this picture about fearing mortality and realizing that being elderly doesn’t have to mean the end of life. Despite how cornball that theme becomes, it does keep the wheels on this vehicle that didn’t have gas going for it. It’s also a rather breezy script for the talents of Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda, Rita Moreno, and Sally Field to saunter through and enjoy the ride. I only wish I could enjoy the ride just as much as I felt myself starving for laughs and probably starving for wings after watching Sally Field chow down on hot wings.