Movie Review: “80 for Brady,” Comic Sudden Death

Let us now praise screen legends, ladies of a certain age still donning the greasepaint, still saving their best for their closeups.

“80 for Brady” packs an entire generation of screen queens into the same movie for a comedy about little old ladies who are crazy for footballer Tom Brady.

But hell’s bells, Hollywood couldn’t find a better excuse, or at least a funnier script to showcase Oscar winners Jane Fonda and Sally Field, Oscar nominee and multiple Emmy winner Lily Tomlin and the Greatest Living EGOT Rita Moreno?

You don’t have to be a Tom Brady hater to pan this. But you are obligated to separate this wan script and feebly-fictionalized laugher from its stars, who have legendary comic chops that this movie treats like oversized false teeth.

This Million Dollar Quartet play longtime New England pals who accidentally bonded over an NFL game the day then-young Brady took over as quarterback for the Patriots. It’s now 2017, and they’ve been meeting on Gamedays ever since.

They’re just there to “enjoy men the way the Romans did, sweaty and piled on top of one another in tight PANTS,” Lou (Tomlin) crows. And so they do.

Widowed Maura (Moreno), retired college professor Betty (Field) and onetime TV-model turned “erotic fan fiction” novelist Trish (Fonda) gather, gab, don jersey and repeat their rituals (knocking over the chips) to “help” their team and their Tom win, week after week.

It must be working. The Patriots are going to another Super Bowl. Maybe, Lou suggests, its time they actually went to see their pushing-40 hero, “almost 80 in people years.” He won’t be under center that much longer for these “ladies over 80 who love Tom Brady.”

Most have their doubts, and some have obligations — Bob Balaban plays Betty’s hapless, nerdy professor husband, Sara Gilbert is Lou’s worried daughter and Glynn Turman is a nursing home gent with an eye for Maura. But there’s this Patriot fan radio contest (Rob Corddry and Kyle Mooney play the “chowdahead” hosts) offering four tickets, and Lou and the crew resolve to win it.

Next thing we know, they’re on the lam to Houston, with encounters with “Gronk,” the subject of Trish’s “fantasy” fiction, and other footballers, Mayor of Flavortown Guy Fieri and flirty ex-jock Harry Hamlin to speed them along, and daffy obstacles to get in the way of this wish fulfillment fantasy coming true.

Rob “Gronk” Gronkowski is an amusing sight gag here, as is Fieri, whom the stoned Maura hallucinates as every face at a Super Bowl Party poker game. All part of “the fan experience” of “The Big Game.”

Brady, a credited producer, is featured in the third act, a Super Bowl which, if you don’t remember, I won’t spoil it for you. If there was a subtext here, it might come from that and it doesn’t really apply.

A few gags almost land laughs. Field is an unlikely hot wings contestant, Moreno amusingly over-reacts to “edibles” (at an officially NFL sanctioned event, no less), Trish dons the heavy warpaint and acts trashy and Lou is in a walking panic about overcoming the obstacles to get in the gate.

This star-studded enterprise produces a heavy-handed bit of sentiment, and a near giggle or three that at least makes the time pass. No, that’s not a ringing endorsement. “Good-natured” can only take you so far.

It’s dull enough that I found myself thinking of how these ladies of 80 (Betty makes a point that’s she’s younger, 76) have already far-outlived the average NFL veteran’s life span — 59 years, up from 57 a couple of years back. No, the NFL and ESPN don’t talk about that. Might ruin the “fan experience.”

Still, we’re predisposed to root for this movie and for this star spangled, AARP-aged cast. But try as they might and try as we might, they can’t overcompensate for a sad excuse for a screenplay and we can’t make the low-hanging fruit jokes deliver and turn this scoreless tie into a barn-burner.

Rating: PG-13 for brief strong language, some drug content and some suggestive references.

Cast: Jane Fonda, Rita Moreno, Sally Field, Lily Tomlin, Harry Hamlin, Sara Gilbert, Glynn Turman, Guy Fieri, Bob Balaban and Tom Brady.

Credits: Directed by Kyle Marvin, scripted by Emily Halpern and Sarah Haskins. A Paramount release.

Running time: 1:38


About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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