Let’s Go, Golden Girls

30 Jan

Believe it or not, 80 for Brady is a bit of an underdog movie. And that’s appropriate, given that it’s centered around Super Bowl LI, the game where the New England Patriots took on (and beat) the Atlanta Falcons.

The film stars Hollywood legends Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Sally Field, and Rita Moreno as a group of friends who, for years, have gotten together every Sunday to cheer on the Patriots, and who are particularly fond of the GOAT himself, TB12. They’re a spirited and superstitious bunch, as devoted to each other as they are their favorite quarterback. (And yes, Tom does play himself in the movie — as do Rob Gronkowski, Danny Amendola, and Julian Edelman.)

When the Pats beat the Steelers in the AFC Playoffs, the women hatch a plan to get down to Houston for the big game — and wouldn’t you know it, they score four tickets. What happens next is a series of far-fetched scenarios and sitcommy twists designed to show our gals a good time and get them to the stadium to see Tom and the team live and in person.

80 for Brady — which is inspired by an actual group of friends who call themselves the Over 80 for Brady fan club — is exactly what it appears to be: a corny, high-concept comedy that has very little promise of being any good. Not surprisingly, the dialogue is often silly, the storyline is predictable, and the whole thing is a broad, Brady-worshipping ego trip that probably won’t appeal to anyone outside of New England. (Or Tampa. Maybe.)

And yet … And yet … like the Patriots in that particular Super Bowl game, down 28-3 late in the third quarter, against all odds, the movie wins you over. 

How is that possible? For starters, credit writers Emily Halpern and Sarah Haskins and director Kyle Marvin. They may put the main characters in some very silly situations that pander to the broadest possible audience, but they take the ladies’ football fandom seriously. That’s kind of nice to see. There’s even a timely joke about Tom’s retirement and a quick, funny gag about his infamous missing jersey. And Marvin uses enough great footage of the Super Bowl game to make the last 20 minutes or so feel authentic. (That said, he could have used, like, 200+ more extras to fill out some of the crowd and party scenes.)

Also give credit to Guy Fieri, of all people, who, out of nowhere, delivers what may be the film’s funniest line in a quick scene involving port-a-potties. 

But really, the MVPs of this movie are, of course, the leading ladies — total pros who have chemistry to spare, and who give delightful performances that make everything better, especially when they’re all on screen together. If it seems like the four actresses are coasting through this film, that’s alright; Fonda, Tomlin, Field, and Moreno have earned the victory lap — or a Duck Boat Parade, as the case may be.

To be clear: 80 for Brady is a fine movie, but it’s not good. As sports movies go, it makes Fever Pitch look like The Natural. But in spite of everything, like Tom Brady pulling out a late-in-the-game, come-from-behind win — as he did in Super Bowl LI — it defies the odds, and it had me smiling throughout. If not a touchdown, this one is a kick through the uprights.

I’m giving it a B–.

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