Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda, Sally Field and Rita Moreno Score in 80 for Brady

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In a movie landscape full of superheroes, sequels and special effects, a film featuring four women over the age of 70 may seem like a Hail Mary pass. But 80 for Brady is here to tackle the clichés.

Think women don’t like sports? This movie gives you four fans who have long-standing game day rituals and a decades-long devotion to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. “What a beautiful man. So well hydrated,” Lou (Lily Tomlin) marvels the first time she sees Brady take the field.

Think women of a certain age are sitting around moping and waiting for their grandchildren to call? They give you four senior citizens, who will not be sidelined, flying to Houston for the 2017 Super Bowl. There’s Lou, the leader of the pack. The flirtatious Trish (Jane Fonda) who writes Rob Gronkowski-based erotica (sample title Between a Gronk and a Hard Place). The practical and responsible Betty (Sally Field) who, despite what the title suggests, is only in her 70s. And the feisty Maura (Rita Moreno) who is still grieving the loss of her husband. “Your husband didn’t divorce you, he died,” Betty tells her. “Same thing,” Moira replies. (Moreno, by the way, just turned 91.)

One movie putting this many icons in the same space is kind of special enough. That the movie is an enjoyable romp is an added bonus. When Tom Brady and the Patriots are heading to the Super Bowl for the eighth time, Lou decides she and her friends have to go. “This could be Tom’s last one. He’s almost 40. That’s like 80 in people years,” Lou tells her friends in one of the film’s many wink-wink, nudge-nudge jokes.

Various hijinks ensue involving Guy Fieri (who co-stars as himself), Billy Porter as Lady Gaga’s half-time show choreographer Gugu (“I’m Gugu. She’s Gaga,” he tells the ladies; all movies should have a dash of Billy Porter), marijuana-laced gummy bears, a celebrity poker game and Ron Funches as one very determined Super Bowl security guard.

All four stars have a natural connection. You believe them as lifelong friends. “Isn’t that what friendship is? That we face the unknown hand in hand,” Betty says. Fonda and Tomlin obviously have a rapport from their seven seasons on Netflix’s Grace and Frankie and it’s a lot of fun to see them slip into new characters. You don’t need me to tell you that all four are fabulous actresses who fully inhabit their characters. These ladies are legends who raise up even the most mundane material.

I’m so happy to report that no one in 80 for Brady attempts a Boston accent except for Rob Corddry and Alex Moffat. They play Pat and Nat, the hosts of the radio show Pats Nation, and their banter is filled with exaggerated pronunciations of words like “beer,” “car” and “garbage.” Boston sports radio guys talk almost exactly like they do and please be advised that it’s the only time an exaggerated Boston accent is acceptable in this or any movie. “I think I’m going to throw up and this is the best experience of my life,” Nat says as the 2017 Super Bowl comes to its nail-biting conclusion.

Anyone who saw the trailer was probably (rightfully) concerned with how fake Fonda’s wig looks. But here’s the fun part: Trish’s wigs are an ongoing joke, and Trish even makes fun of them and her plastic surgery. “Do you know what it cost me to look like this?” she asks. There’s a lovely vulnerable moment where Fonda appears sans wig, looking more her age than she does for the majority of the movie.

Brady, who is also a producer on the movie that bears his name, is…well hydrated—the Tom Brady of 2017 looks the same in 2023. And while the GOAT of football isn’t going to win any Academy Awards for playing himself, he does okay next to four women who have 12 Oscar nominations between them. There’s some clear promotion of Brady, who once again announced his retirement this week, and his brand. The four women idolize him, but as someone who lives in the Boston area, I can tell you that level of devotion tracks. Brady’s well-known philosophy is also on full display. “This is going to be an amazing comeback…You have to change your mind to think that way. This is going to work out,” he tells Lou in one of her frequent Brady fantasies. So, yes, there are times where the movie is a bit of a Tom Brady infomercial.

Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola, who were all part of the Patriot’s 2017 Super Bowl team, appear as themselves. Although his time in the movie is brief, Gronkowski has a natural on-screen charisma. I could see him going to the Terry Crews acting route. The movie uses a lot of actual game-day footage and some serious revisionist history to insert the four women into the Patriot’s victory.

Although 80 for Brady does, at times, feel like an extended episode of a sitcom, first-time director Kyle Marvin knows how to move this breezy movie along—though there are a few missteps along the way. Notably, a scene between Field and Matt Lauria’s James. A lot of Lauria’s scenes must have been left on the cutting room floor because what’s left doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

80 for Brady isn’t going to add to anyone’s long list of Oscar nominations, but it definitely moves the goalpost for the kind of movies audiences want to see. To mix up my sports metaphors, I hope the box office hits it out of the ballpark and we get more female-oriented, age-defying movies like this.

Director: Kyle Marvin
Writers: Sarah Haskins, Emily Halpern
Starring: Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda, Rita Moreno, Sally Field, Tom Brady, Billy Porter, Rob Corddry, Alex Moffat, Guy Fieri, Harry Hamlin, Bob Balaban, Glynn Turman, Sara Gilbert, Jimmy O. Yang, Ron Funches, Matt Lauria
Release Date: February 3, 2023

Amy Amatangelo, the TV Gal®, is a Boston-based freelance writer and a member of the Television Critics Association. She wasn’t allowed to watch much TV as a child and now her parents have to live with this as her career. You can follow her on Twitter (@AmyTVGal).