Four legends of the screen and the GOAT team up to make a motion picture that everyone will love in 80 For Brady.
During the tail end of 80 for Brady, Maura (Rita Moreno) asks football player Tom Brady when he will retire. Brady replies, “I thought a lot about retirement. It would be a shame to retire if you feel like you’ve still got it.” It feels surreal to have watched that moment a few days after Brady officially announced his (second) retirement fromfootball after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had a less-than-stellar season. It’s even more surreal when you look up that 80 for Brady was greenlit 23 days after he announced his first retirement from football. They could joke about his first retirement before he came back, and the joke feels more prescient than when they shot it. Amazing.
But 80 for Brady isn’t forfootball fans. Of course, NFL junkies will enjoy seeing Brady pretend to playfootball alongside Rob Gronkowski, Danny Amendola, and Julian Edelman and motivate the New England Patriots with his famous “LET’S GOOOOOO!” There wasn’t a single Patriots fan at my screening, but audience members that were over the age of 70. You’re seeing 80 for Brady to see screen icons Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda,Rita Moreno andSally Field go on crazy antics during the Super Bowl LI as they travel to Houston to see Tom Brady play against the Atlanta Falcons in what’s now considered to be one of the greatestfootball games ever played.
Before halftime, the Patriots were losing 21-3 and their odds of winning were amazingly slim. Miraculously, the Pats bounced back and brought the game to a tie. It was the first time in Super Bowl history that the game would go to overtime, which ultimately got the Patriots to win the game, and for Brady to claim his fifth Super Bowl title. No one knows what happened between halftime and the third quarter, but 80 for Brady tries to romanticize it to cathartic effect by taking massive liberties on the tale of four best friends who traveled to the Super Bowl to see Brady play.
The game was amazing, but 80 for Brady diverts the focus on the game to showcase how Lou (Lily Tomlin), Trish (Jane Fonda), Betty (Sally Field) and Maura had the time of their lives at the Super Bowl. There are plenty of celebrity cameos, including Guy Fieri and Billy Porter, which makes the movie feel more like a commercial for the upcoming Super Bowl than anything else. Still, the charm of the lead actors is palpable enough for us to be invested in the emotional journey even if the script is amazingly clichéd.
Let’s be honest, here: we’ve seen everything this movie tackles, even if it tries to be different. This is basically an NFL version of Book Club (which also stars Jane Fonda), with silver screen veterans inside what the filmmakers think are social media trends but are usually past-date when the movie comes out. Sure, some of the stuff in this is amazingly cringeworthy. But the stars remain untouched, and their chemistry is always incredible to watch. There is nothing funnier than seeing Sally Field kick everyone’s ass in a Hot Wings competition hosted by Guy Fieri, or Moreno high as a kite at a poker game where she imagines everyone (and herself) as Fieri.
Or how about the scenes in which they try to get into the Super Bowl but are threatened by a security guard who takes his job far too seriously? Those moments solidify the charm of 80 for Brady even if it’s shot, scored, and edited like a Hallmark movie. Fonda, Moreno, Tomlin, and Field are excellent together, and their universal talents go hand-in-hand with some of the movie’s more elaborate, and satisfying, physical skits. Even hallucinatory moments where Tomlin’s character envisions Brady directly talking to her are compelling to watch, because of Tomlin selling the scene and her devotion to the GOAT.
As afootball star, there’s no denying that Brady is a legend. As an actor, he still needs work. His line deliveries are flat, as if he’s reading them on a card next to the camera. He can magnify a court easily, but can’t do the same when he pretends to playfootball. I won’t spoil it, but the scene in which he meets Tomlin’s character for the first time is both surreal in its direction and in Brady’s inability to fix a camera without looking unnatural on it. It’s weird because he controls the camera when he playsfootball. It seems to be a challenge for him when he’s not really playing, while Gronk, Amendola and Edelman are having a great time playing their self-aware selves.
But even amidst the flaws, 80 for Brady remains fun. Again, die-hardfootball fans may enjoy the recreation of Super Bowl LI, but not much else. It’s not about the game (though a film on that specific moment, and Brady himself, could be made in a few years from now), but about the relationships the four friends have together and the antics they get that make the film a fun piece of work. Is it going to change cinema? Maybe not. Is it a great time at the movies? You can bet all the money in the world that you will have a blast.
80 for Brady was released in cinemas in the UK and Europe on February 23.