80 for Brady is the latest in the said sub-genre and stars Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda (there she is again), Rita Moreno, and Sally Field as four best friends and die-hard Tom Brady fans, who fly out to Houston, Texas, to see the New England Patriots face the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI. It also just so happens to star Brady himself, Guy Fieri, Billy Porter, and Rob Gronkowski, among many others. If that sounds outlandish to you that an Academy Award-winning actress like Sally Field would be sharing the screen with the King of Flavortown in a comedy produced by an NFL Quarterback, well maybe give the movie a shot first.
80 for Brady follows Lou, Trish, Maura, and Betty (Tomlin, Fonda, Moreno, and Field), whose love for Tom Brady and the New England Patriots knows no bounds. Watching Brady play helped Lou through her cancer treatment, Trish has found great success in writing erotica surrounding the Patriots, it helped Maura deal with the loss of her husband, and it has given Betty a release from her loving but workaholic husband (Bob Balaban). After entering a sweepstakes, the four friends end up traveling down to Houston to watch the now legendary game which featured the largest comeback in the history of the Super Bowl.
As silly as 80 for Brady sounds, there’s surprisingly a lot to enjoy beyond just the novelty that a film like this exists. The plot is pretty much nonexistent and outside a sub-plot revolving around Lou and her daughter (Sara Gilbert), the stakes never feel high, nor should they. The chemistry between the four leading ladies is simply irresistible, and each of them gets a chance to score some major laughs. From Jane Fonda reading aloud Rob Gronkowski fan fiction to a captivated audience of Patriots fans, to Rita Moreno, high as a kite, stumbling into a celebrity poker game and hallucinating Guy Fieri’s face everywhere, or Sally Field unintentionally flirting with a man much younger than her, the humor is simple and not the most original, but it’s the delivery from the actresses that makes it work. All four women are so gleefully committed to their roles, clearly having the times of their lives, and it’s hard not to giggle and smile right along with them.
Much like the recent reboot of House Party, which constantly made comments about just how great its producer LeBron James is, 80 for Brady spends a good amount of time having its main characters talk about just how handsome they find Brady. Though, unlike House Party where it feels like one giant vanity project that wants its audience to laugh with it, not at it, 80 for Brady feels much more in on the joke. While it does certainly feel like one giant commercial for the NFL and Brady himself, it is never taking itself too seriously. Brady’s name may be plastered all over the film, but at the same time, a lot of the best jokes have nothing to do with him. There’s an abundance of cameos but none of them go as far as to overshadow the four leads and instead let them continue to shine in the spotlight and be the loose cannons that they rarely get to be on-screen.
From a filmmaking and a technical standpoint, there’s nothing that truly stands out from 80 for Brady outside Sarah Haskins and Emily Halpern‘s script. While this is the perfect kind of comedy to see with an active crowd, it also likely wouldn’t work nearly as well in an empty theater or watching it at home on TV. It has a certain sitcom or streaming-like feel to it and seems far more interested in letting the award-winning actresses headlining the film carry the film on their shoulders. Haskins and Halpern’s writing is paired perfectly with Tomlin, Fonda, Moreno, and Field’s sensibilities, and as corny as the film is, the jokes work, and has an enormous heart that it wears proudly. Mixed in with all the shenanigans, the film has a strong emotional core, it’s not going to make you leave the theaters in tears, but there is a genuine sweetness to the film.
80 for Brady never once feels mean-spirited, and while you likely already know how the film is going to play out beat-for-beat, it also feels like a warm hug. It’s not going to challenge you or make you feel emotionally drained or walk out of the theater feeling like a different person, it’s the perfect kind of comedy to take your mom to or go see with your friends after having a few $5 Margaritas at Applebee’s. 80 for Brady is not the new golden standard of sports comedies, but it was clearly never trying to be. It’s cute, silly, and light, all things that a comfort movie should be. At a little over 90 minutes, it never overstays its welcome and has that kind of sincereness that made us fall in love with shows like Ted Lasso and Abbott Elementary. The corniness might become a little bit too overkill for some audience members, but for many others, 80 for Brady will feel like a game well played.
80 for Brady is now playing in theaters everywhere.