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'80 for Brady' Review

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January 20, 2023
Hunter Friesen
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Lighter than a feather and filled with enough New England Patriots propaganda to get itself banned in Atlanta, Buffalo, New York, and Miami, 80 for Brady would probably have cleaned up at this year’s AARP Movies for Grownups Awards if it had been given a timely qualifying release. Of course, there’s always next year, where there’s potential for Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon to be upstaged in the categories of “Best Buddy Picture” and “Best Intergenerational Film.” 

At the time of the film’s announcement, famed Patriots/Buccaneers Quarterback Tom Brady had just announced his retirement from football after 22 seasons, which included 7 Super Bowl titles, 3 NFL MVP honors, 15 Pro Bowl selections, as well as an extended list of other career achievements. It does take a certain amount of hubris on Brady’s part for his first post-football move to be the commissioning of a movie about four fans who worship him as a god. Granted, this is inspired by a true story, even if the script by Emily Halpern and Sarah Haskins, part of the writing team behind 2019’s Booksmart, takes some very creative liberties with the truth.

The 80 in 80 for Brady denotes the ages of four friends who have centered their strong friendship over their love of Tom Brady and his New England Patriots. It all started on September 23, 2001 (a date celebrated every year by Patriots fans) when Lou (Lily Tomlin) was stuck at home recovering from her last round of chemotherapy. Her close friends Trish (Jane Fonda), Maura (Rita Moreno), and Betty (Sally Field) tried to entertain her by getting the TV to work, but it was stuck on one channel. At that exact moment, young Tom Brady steps into the pocket after regular starter Drew Bledsoe was taken out of the game due to a nasty sack. From there, the rest is history, for both Brady and his cohort of dedicated octogenarian fans.

Fast forward to 2017 and the Patriots are going to another Super Bowl. Instead of staying home like they always do, the group decides to make the trip down to Houston for the big game. “The Super Bowl is no place for four old women,” says Maura, who happens to be right. But that statement being true is what makes for the most of the fun within 80 for Brady, as four Hollywood legends with effortless charm and chemistry blaze through the biggest event of the year.

Much of the material is light and fun, made to purely entertain you for the ninety-eight-minute runtime and nothing more. And compared to most of the entries in this specific genre, which include Book Club (plus its upcoming sequel) and Poms, this one works fairly well. Moreno, who technically doesn’t qualify for the club considering she’s 91, clearly has the most fun within the ensemble. It’s unfortunate that the only dance routine within the film is poorly choreographed and doesn’t allow the original cinematic Anita to show off her long-lived talent.

There are some attempts at drama, but it’s all so clean and shallow that it barely even registers. The stakes are pretty much nonexistent, and the jokes can be seen from a mile away. Director Kyle Marvin keeps everything breezy, and cinematographer John Toll (recipient of two Academy Awards) makes the Super Bowl festivities look as appealing as possible.

Football fans may not be totally won over by 80 for Brady, but its intended audience of retirees will undoubtedly eat it up. And in a time when one of the largest sustainers of adult theatrical programming is not returning to the cinema, we’ll take all the help we can get. So, take your parents and/or grandparents out for a nice time, and maybe try to convince them to get back into their old cinemagoing habits.

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