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Review: 80 for Brady

February 3, 2023

By John Corrado

★★½ (out of 4)

As far as self-produced vanity projects go, the inspired-by-a-true-story comedy 80 for Brady, which follows four old ladies who go to the Super Bowl to see their hero Tom Brady play, is a pretty enjoyable one.

Produced by Brady, who also gives himself a small role playing himself, this is a feel-good football comedy that kept me smiling throughout. It’s purely fluff, but the cast is clearly having fun, and it’s hard not to be won over by the film’s charms in the end.

The film centres around four friends – Lou (Lily Tomlin), Trish (Jane Fonda), Betty (Sally Field) and Maura (Rita Moreno) – who have become die hard New England Patriots fans after discovering football in their old age. They have obsessive rituals to watch the game together, to help cheer on their MVP, Tom Brady.

When Lou scores four tickets to the 2017 Super Bowl, it’s off to Houston, Texas to fulfill their dream of attending the big game, with each of the ladies having their own reasons for why the trip is so important to them. There are, of course, several setbacks and pitfalls along the way, as the women get into all sorts of shenanigans, from a spicy wings contest hosted by Guy Fieri to a drug-fuelled poker game with Billy Porter (playing a choreographer named Gugu) at an elite party that the women get invited to.

The film does have a bit of a made-for-TV feel to it at times (though the fact that it’s being released in theatres during the streaming era is oddly refreshing), with the humour including some predictable senior jokes that will incite as many groans as they do chuckles, though these actresses are all talented enough to make the one-liners land. It’s also never really in doubt that this is basically a vanity project. But Brady is allowed to pat himself on the back every once in a while, and the four leading ladies are all having so much fun that it’s easy to get caught up in it.

While the outcome is never really in question, this predictability isn’t a bad thing. What works about 80 for Brady is that it embraces being a comfort movie, one that can be appreciated both as a sweet story about undying friendship and a celebration of the unifying power of football (while it isn’t a traditional sports movie, the film does satisfyingly allow fans to relive highlights of the historic 2017 game between the Patriots and Falcons). Tomlin also has one scene that effectively tugs at the heartstrings. At a briskly paced 95 minutes, 80 for Brady offers an undemanding and easily enjoyable good time.

80 for Brady opens exclusively in theatres on February 3rd. It’s being distributed in Canada by Paramount Pictures.

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