These four Hall of Famers deserve much more than this fumble of a movie.
When it came to going to see 80 for Brady (2023), I was conflicted. On the one hand, I could not give one flying fart about football, Tom Brady, or professional sports as a whole. But on the other hand, how could I possibly resist seeing a comedy starring the likes of Sally Field, Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Rita Moreno all of whom are legendary award-winning actresses that I absolutely adore? Though I knew it meant having to endure a barrage of football-related nonsense, there was no was I wasn’t going to support this quartet of fabulous women. Damn you Hollywood for thinking of the most brilliant way to get anti-sports fans like me to see your sports-themed movie! While there was FAR too much time devoted to Tom Brady and the Super Bowl for my liking, thankfully the dazzling star power of the main cast was enough to keep me distracted.
Inspired by a true story, 80 for Brady tells the story of four best friends who are enormous fans of the New England Patriots and football superstar Tom Brady. When the Patriots make it into the 2017 Super Bowl, the group makes it their mission to travel to Houston, make it to the Super Bowl and meet Tom Brady.
Obviously I had the wonderfulness of the main cast to keep me occupied whenever the terribleness of football became too much to bear, but let it be known that being the professional reviewer that I am, I did my due diligence and confirmed that 80 for Brady featured a cameo appearance from at least one hunky football player. Attention Julian Edelman: I don’t know what it is you do for the Patriots, but congratulations on your hotness. Y’know, if the producers of this movie really wanted to pack theatre seats with people who couldn’t care less about football, they A) should have included more scenes of hunky (preferably shirtless) football players, but also a snippet of Lady Gaga’s performance from the 2017 halftime show. That would have been fantastic! It certainly would have made the last 35 minutes of this movie, which is mostly just clips from the actual football game, more bearable. Although, the theatre my mom and I saw 80 for Brady in was far from empty. Yes, we might have been the youngest people at our 4:00 p.m. Thursday showing by several decades, but almost every seat was filled! While some people were there for the group of all-star women and others for the Brady-ness of it all, it was clear the audience enjoyed the movie from start to finish.
I was honestly surprised to discover that this movie was written by two professional screenwriters – the women behind the hilarious Booksmart (2019) – and not Tom Brady himself. By the way, check out my review for that movie, here. I swear, there are times where 80 for Brady not only feels as if it’s an episode from a stale sitcom that’s on the verge of being cancelled, but like it’s written by someone whose sole purpose in life is to inflate the ego and self worth of Tom Brady. I know this movie is inspired by a true story but wow oh wow does it really dramatize how much of an influence Brady was on the lives of these women, especially Tomlin’s character, Lou. The underlying theme of 80 for Brady is that Tom Brady is magical and his inherent awesomeness will fix all your problems. The movie even goes as far as to subtly imply that it was Brady who saved Lou from succumbing to cancer and later when Lou says to Brady that “I’ll fight if you fight,” the movie flat-out equates playing football to fighting cancer. I think having Brady be a producer for this movie was the wrong decision. It needed someone removed from his circle to be calling the shots so that 80 for Brady could function as an actual movie and not as a puff piece to deify Brady. Maybe then the four lead actresses could have more meaningful material to work with.
Tomlin, Fonda, Moreno and Field are all extraordinary actresses whose talents and charisma are legendary. Together the four of them have been in more iconic movies and contributed more to the history of cinema than most stars could dream of. The ladies are all reliably entertaining in 80 for Brady and their combined effervescence makes the breezy movie perfectly cute and enjoyable. When I’m drowning out the reminders of football, that is. However, I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t a tad disappointed at how underutilized this fantastic foursome feels. The movie as a whole is fine if not sorely lacking an extra dash or zaniness or a shot of adrenaline, a dash or a shot that I know any one of the movie’s stars are capable of providing. I hate that the movie treats the main characters and their potential for comedy as an afterthought, choosing to focus so much more on the game than them. They all have the capacity for so much more and the movie pushes them to the sidelines.
I’m happy I went to see this movie and support these amazing women, but to be completely honest, I don’t think I would ever want to rewatch 80 for Brady. I don’t think I can in good conscience watch a movie that I know has such potential to be great and instead squanders its runtime on the idolization of Tom Brady, a man with all the charisma and intellect of Frankenstein’s monster. Except not that lively. If you’re a fan of Brady’s perhaps you’ll find more enjoyment in 80 for Brady than I did. For me though, this movie was one big fumble. Sports reference!
Will you see 80 for Brady?
Let me know in the comments or on social media!