80 for Brady review – screen queens go wild in charming but slight comedy | Comedy films


During the Patriots dynasty of 17 division titles across our century’s first two decades, quarterback Tom Brady held a supernatural sway over the mature women of New England. In this ascended townie-jock, a housewife could see someone that while not literally named Sean, nonetheless presented a more handsome, wealthy and successful image of a man like her husband. (The fantasy worked both ways, too; at the time, having Tommy Touchdown meant a lady got to be Gisele Bündchen.) But mostly they loved him for the same reason anybody loves any athlete, which is to say because he’s a winner. When defeat seems all but assured, he’s the guy you want calling the shots, the unstoppable will that once brought come-from-behind victories now enough to make a wide-release audience temporarily forget how much they detest this ball-deflating ring-hoarder.

His regular fourth-quarter miracles are a testament to the fact that being down isn’t the same as being out, and that can-do resilience forms the flimsy link connecting him to the quartet of greying legends who star in the mild, pleasurable 80 for Brady. New Hollywood icons Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Rita Moreno and Sally Field play a real-life group of Massachusetts galpals who found a new structure for their lifelong friendship in the weekly broadcast of Pats games during the Brady-Belichick era, coming together to check in and catch up over an activity more stimulating than bingo. Good company is the name of the game here, both in the nourishing bond between these geriatric besties as well as the chance for us to spend another 100 minutes in the presence of showbiz royalty. But for all its congenial upbeatitude, this salute to blue-hair camaraderie has been molded into the shape of a movie without much finesse. That never-say-die spirit, for instance, is crystallized with a pep talk from Tomlin that sees her resolve to beat cancer inspire Brady to battle the Atlanta Falcons into overtime.

Louella (Tomlin) has been avoiding calls from her oncologist, just one in a handful of crises meant to cover the full gamut of octogenarian struggles: incurable flirt Trish (Fonda) is fresh off the latest in a long series of heartbreaks, recently widowed Maura (Moreno) can’t bring herself to move on, and responsible one Betty (Field) feels unheard by her professor husband (a pantsless Bob Balaban) glued to his dissertation. A radio sweepstakes win and road trip to Houston for 2017’s big game could be just the shot in the arm they each need, though Betty frets that “the Super Bowl is no place for four old women.” How wrong she is! Their PG-13 hijinks include a Guy Fieri-hosted hot-wing-eating contest unblemished by gastrointestinal distress, a woozy THC gummy trip without major incident, and a furtive broom-closet makeout with a past footballer (Harry Hamlin), the comedy pitched to the safe, agreeable register of “uncouth yet dignified”.

The goal-line hasn’t really been set at laughter anyway, a warming wash of affection being the ceiling of the film’s aspirations. The repeated virality of the cast’s press tour reaffirmed the public’s reverent fondness for these well-preserved movie stars, strengthened with time as they’ve grown into the right to speak their mind under the candor of age. Writers Sarah Haskins and Emily Halpert (two of the four credited with the script for Booksmart) do a fair job balancing the softball humor of oldsters behaving in ways unbecoming of their years with a respectful empathy for a neglected demographic. As is law for movies about characters in their twilight years, we’re duly shown that they can still do and feel everything they did in their spring-chicken days, though that support is just one step away from the pity of a back-pat before steering Grandma to bed. Trish authors erotic NFL fan-fiction with titles like A Gronk for All Seasons and We Gronk You a Merry Christmas, at once an earnest expression of a seasoned libido and a pat horny-old-lady joke.

Approaching this bit of fluff as a grand monument to four colossuses of the acting profession, a fan will probably be able to overlook the odd ends weakening it as cinema, like the aggressive product placement for Microsoft-brand tablets or the awkward dance break featuring internet personality Marc Rebillet. Though viewers invested in the legacy of screen queens from the 70s and 80s as they progress through their 70s and 80s might also feel a twinge of melancholy, thinking about how their groundbreaking careers once posed a rejoinder to feelgood pap with daring works of modernism, or just stick-to-your-ribs entertainment in line with Fonda and Tomlin’s 9 to 5. We made movies then; today, the best we can manage is a tribute to their greatness that’s not quite an extension of it.

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