Sally Field, Jane Fonda, Rita Moreno, and Lily Tomlin Cheer on Tom Brady in Super Bowl Comedy
DIRECTOR: KYLE MARVIN/2023
Retirement, schmetirement! Tom Brady is already back in the game (again) on the big screen this weekend just in time for the Super Bowl—and Galentine’s.
But when was the last time Brady wasn’t the top-billed star of anything he’s participated in? His name appears in the title, but there’s a reason he’s not on the poster. In the barely-inspired-by-true-events 80 for Brady, Sally Field, Jane Fonda, Rita Moreno, and Lily Tomlin play octogenarian (and a septuagenarian, Field reminds us) super fans of the New England Patriots. They dream of flying from Boston to Houston for the 2017 Super Bowl, though that plot hardly matters. We know they’ll make it to the Super Bowl, and we know the trip will be magical. It’s all about the journey, and you’ll never guess the journey this borderline-fantasy takes. In addition to a memorable football game (at least, that’s what they tell me—the sport hasn’t piqued my interest since Brady won his first Super Bowl over my hometown Rams in 2001), there are high-stakes poker games, special gummy bears, and a hot wings eating competitions hosted by Guy Fieri. (Working title: Retirees for Fieri?). Fonda writes erotic football fan fiction, and Tomlin finds a psychic connection with Brady merchandise. No idea is too silly, and like the bizarre epic Babylon, this movie goes in 100% on every one of its ideas.
So sure, the script is corny, and it’s an underdog story about people who have not been underdogs in ages. And yes, every other scene serves as a commercial for someone involved in making this movie. (More working titles: Belles for the NFL? Dames for NRG Stadium? Mamas for Microsoft Surfaces?) Feel free to criticize this movie for its worship of Brady (also producing) and for never interrogating the dangers of football or the NFL’s poor attempts at PR, but doubt any of these players at your own peril. Our 5 leads may average age 75, but together they’ve won 5 Oscars, 12 Emmys, 2 Grammys, 3 Tonys, and 7 Super Bowl rings. They are 100% in on the jokes and 100% game for whatever goofiness the script asks of them. Brady may be stiff, but the four Golden Girls’ comic timing is sharp as ever. And since the heart of this far-fetched flick is friendship, the laughs do not come at the expense of their dignity. They find humor in their age, but their age is not the joke. These charismatic ladies are never not entertaining, and their celebration of authentic, lasting friendship makes 80 for Brady a feel-good winner.