80 for Brady | Review


There’s absurdity in the capacity of a film like 80 for Brady to boast three Oscar winners and a near-miss nominee as its leading quartet. A vague sense that something has gone rather awry in tinsel town. Is this the best available to such talent? From debutant director Kyle Marvin and two the writers of Booksmart – Sarah Haskins and Emily Halpern – this one is rote grey pound farce. Think Girls Trip meets Book Club by way of The Blind Side. An ungodly mix if ever one were. What’s more, as produced by NFL legend Tom Brady, it’s a blatant vanity project. And based on a true story don’t cha know?

On grounds of warmth and warmth alone, it’s hard to fault Marvin’s intent. Yet, where Booksmart saw Haskins and Halpern galvanise a well-moulded structure, here the pitfalls of formula prove rather too hard to sidestep. A pedestrian pace hardly helps, while gaping deficits in logic shift the rib tickling skyward to a scratch of the head. Even outwit failures of plotting, an easy watching flow comes counterbalanced with weary dialogue and incessant signposting, be it in a laden warning not to confuse blood pressure medication with sleeping pills or the fateful moment one character pops a very important bag on the floor for a moment. It’s like panto.

Such foibles are essential in a film reliant on left turns to prevent the conclusion landing within around twenty minutes. For better or worse, the narrative really is that simple. While undergoing chemotherapy some sixteen years prior to the film’s events, sparky sexagenarian Lou (Lily Tomlin) stumbles across the National Football League. The obsession is instant, not least due to the ‘beautiful’ masculinity of quarterback Tom Brady. Fast forward to 2017 and Lou’s obsessed. She’s not alone in the addiction. Jane Fonda, Rita Moreno and Sally Field play best friends Trish, Maura and Betty, a trio easily summed by their given stereotypes: the flirt, the widow and the held-back housewife with a brilliant brain. When opportunity knocks for the gang to attend that year’s Super Bowl, they’re quick to answer.

Each grandee brings impressive commitment to the limited quality asked of them. A winning and thoroughly believable chemistry amongst them works wonders. Having co-produced seven seasons of Netflix’s Grace and Frankie together, the bond is strongest between Fonda and Tomlin, who here share a nice sight gag in which the former sleeps wrapped around the latter. Field, meanwhile, gifts the film it’s most honest performance – her relationship with husband Mark (Bob Balaban) charting a pleasing trajectory. Tomlin has her moment to shine, of course, albeit with a somewhat lame analogy relating overcoming cancer to a footballer pulling their finger out for the final quarter.

There are some mild titters here and there, with Moreno stealing the lion’s share of the film’s better lines. Little to set the auditorium alight. Even the farce is muted. Nothing ever comes of our leads ingesting gummy edibles, any more than an über hot chicken wing eating competition flaws Betty. Restauranteur Guy Fieri hosts the latter, in one of several cameos likely to float many leagues over the heads of most non-American audiences. Such is true also of the Super Bowl itself, an affair of uniquely transatlantic fascination. When the finale arrives, though well blended with contemporary footage from an editorial standpoint, it’s not terribly exciting.

Much of the film’s appeal instead depends on one’s interest in spending time in the company of the legends themselves. On this front, 80 for Brady enjoys a certain tingle. It’s a tough ask not to find joy in one of Tomlin’s winks of Moreno’s irreverent side eyes. When an image of the real Patriot seniors who inspired the film pops up at its close, the glamourisation of truth is almost laughable. None, however, are flattered here quite so blatantly as Brady himself. It’s not a send up, this is pure adoration. If only the film around him warranted such a response. It’s hard to see 80 for Brady becoming the sort of annual appointment viewing enjoyed by the Super Bowl and it’s tens of millions of Stateside devotees.



One thought on “80 for Brady | Review”

  1. Good review. I thought that the movie was okay. I didn’t expect much from it. Yes, it was quite silly and nothing really remarkable came out of the feature, but it was comfort food “fluff” piece, which is alright. It reminded me of 2018’s Book Club (recognizable main cast, silly premise).


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