Review by Dan Skip Allen
It's no secret that I am a huge New England Patriots fan and, as such, a huge Tom Brady fan. So when I heard about a film starring four legends on the screen that went to the Super Bowl because they were huge fans of Tom Brady, I was already in on this film. Even with that anticipation, I didn't expect to love 80 for Brady as much as I did. It's a sweet, loveable ode to the power of never giving up and putting your faith in someone you admire.
Lou (Lily Tomlin) is a woman who watches her favorite player Tom Brady play football each week with her three best friends, Trish (Jane Fonda), Betty (Sally Field), and Muara (Rita Moreno). This has been their tradition since Lou was on chemotherapy and Tom Brady replaced Drew Bledsoe in a game sixteen years prior. Watching football was what motivated her to recover from her cancer. After the Patriots beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Championship in 2017, they decide to go to the Super Bowl to see their hero up close and personal. This becomes the adventure of a lifetime for the four women in their golden years.
This film has a few contrivances that get the women into the actual game, but it doesn't matter how they get into the Super Bowl. All that matters is what happens when they get in and how it reflects on their hero, Tom Brady, who plays himself throughout the film. Super Bowl LI is considered the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history. This story was embellished a little for the big screen, but I didn't care. I was on board from the beginning. There were so many references I was laughing at, and I couldn't help but be completely enthralled by this movie.
Each of the four women has their own arc in the film. They all have their reasons for wanting to be there at that game to support Tom Brady and the Patriots. One of them wants to get away from her husband, another is hiding a secret about why they are there in the first place, one develops a relationship with an older man who used to be a player in his own right (played by Harry Hamlin), and the fourth wants to prove she's not over the hill yet and has a lot of life to live still. This film has some great messages for anybody, let alone senior citizens.
The thing about this movie that really resonates with me is where I was at this time in my life. I was at my friend's house during Super Bowl LI, and I was not in a good mood when my team, the Patriots, was losing 28-3 in the third quarter of the game. I, of course, never lost hope for my boy Tommy but it was a dismal circumstance he and the Pats found themselves in. The film uses archival footage of the game to depict the incredible comeback. The editing around the four women and their continued adventure once they got in the stadium and how that revolved around the game itself was pretty cool. They weaved that together very nicely.
With all the football talk and Tom Brady love, I almost forgot the performances of these four legendary actresses. These ladies are all Academy Awards-nominated actresses, and three of the four won Oscars in their careers. They could have easily phoned in their performances, but they didn't. I felt genuinely connected to their various subplots and the central theme the film was trying to convey: not giving up. All their subplots gave them room to be their characters and space to have fun in their roles while also playing a bigger part in the overall story the movie was trying to tell. There is a reason these four ladies are so legendary, and this film shows that in full effect.
One of the best aspects of the movie is how, even though it has some serious subject matter, it doesn't take itself too seriously. There are plenty of humorous moments in the movie you just can't help but laugh at, such as the tradition the women have before every kickoff. One lady is reading a magazine in the dining room, another is changing a lightbulb on a ladder, one spills a bowl of chips, and the fourth is just sitting on the couch changing channels and lands on the game in question.
Last but not least is the song sung by Dolly Parton, Belinda Carlisle, Gloria Estefan, and Cindy Lauper. It's the credits song, written by 14-time Academy Award nominee Diane Warren. She got four other legends of the music world to see the song and the song is so catchy I found myself listening to it nonstop. This will finally win Diane Warren an Academy Award. Mark it down — you heard it here first.
80 for Brady is an inspiring story about never giving up no matter how old or sick or in many cares people struggling in various ways. The performances from the four legendary actresses — Tomlin, Fonda, Moreno, and Field — are exceptional. Even though it's a tongue-in-cheek type of performance, they take the roles and themes the movie is trying to convey seriously. The humor is a bonus, and the fish-out-of-water nature of these four older women entering this whole new world is mostly hilarious. Sure, some contrivances are required for the story to unfold, but that's nothing out of the ordinary. The film is filled with cameos of celebrities and character actors in various roles, but the actual New England Patriots playing themselves was like the icing on top of the cake. Even Brady got me emotional at various times in the movie. He is, after all, a very inspiring human being and a true leader. This film should resonate with many people, whether you're a Patriots fan, a football fan, or just a fan of a good funny movie.
80 for Brady hits theaters on February 3.