“80 FOR BRADY”
Starring Jane Fonda, Sally Field, Lily Tomlin, Rita Moreno
Written by Sarah Haskins and Emily Halpern
Directed by Kyle Marvin
Produced by Tom Brady and Donna Gigliotti
Cinematography by John Toll
Edited by Colin Patton
Music by John Debney
Featured song “Gonna Be You” written by Diane Warren and performed by Dolly Parton, Debbie Harry, Cyndi Lauper, Gloria Estefan and Belinda Carlisle

By Matt Neufeld
Feb. 3, 2023

“80 for Brady,” in which four entirely lovable, lively, fun-loving, classy, smart and endearing women of a certain age bracket decide to damn it all to hell and take a big adventure and head to Houston for the Super Bowl, is a rollicking, goofy-in-a-great-way, funny hoot of a movie. And that’s intended as a high compliment: The movie is a hoot, and that means you will laugh, embrace life and walk out of the theater with a smile, with a positive attitude and with a warm, fuzzy feeling, cliches be damned.

Now, some might think at first that folks could be hoodwinked, in a sense, to enjoy and embrace “80” solely because of the epic casting of the four leading ladies–Jane Fonda, Sally Field, Lily Tomlin and Rita Moreno. But the truth is, the movie does indeed succeed mainly because of these fine ladies’ collective talent, presence, energy and humor, but there’s something more going on than just the great talent of four veteran actors–the movie just simply has what any good comedy has, which is a consistent, underlying sense of humor, fun, goofiness, silliness and positivity. Thus, the leading actors merge with an over-arching feel-good, pleasing vibe, and everyone wins in the end.

This weekend, Feb. 3-5, 2023, and during the rest of the month, and into March, definitely head out to the theaters and see “80 for Brady,” and then sit back, laugh, and enjoy the enveloping simple celebration of life, love and friendship that is this movie. During these dark days in general, and during these dark, cold, unforgiving, wintry days of winter, “80 for Brady” arrives like a soothing balm, a ray of sunshine, a warm mulled cider, a hot cup of coffee or tea, amid the craziness of a frigid world. And that’s important in life and in terms of the movies, because too many modern-day movies are too dark, depressing, cynical, unfunny and insanely bleak. So when a fun and funny hoot of a movie like “80 for Brady” comes along, it’s a cause for celebration.

Fonda, Field, Tomlin and Moreno–all entirely, consistently hilarious, funny and just lovable–play four close friends who are diehard football, New England Patriots and Tom Brady fans, and they get together regularly to watch football games and hang out and thoroughly enjoy their enduring friendships. One year, on a bit of a whim, they decide to get up, get out and go to the Super Bowl in Houston for Super Bowl 51 in 2017. From there, the hilarity, goofiness and silliness ensue. And it is all funny.

Without giving away gags and punchlines, the ladies run into and across various adventures and misadventures at the Super Bowl, and, well, watching Fonda, Field, Tomlin and Moreno perform, display and riff off of their natural, easy-going, easy-flowing comedy and acting skills is just funny. It’s a hoot, in fact. They all still have it, the it being that often-elusive, somewhat-unexplainable but still recognizable it factor. And that is notable, and important.

To see these venerable, veteran woman dominate a comedy so well and in such a commanding manner contributes to the several underlying, but never obviously-stated, messages, morals, themes and lessons that the movie manages to impart.

“80 for Brady” is a movie about friendship, love, life, defying ageist stereotypes, living life to the fullest, living life to the fullest no matter what age one is, simply enjoying life, and taking a stand and standing up for yourself despite the wrongful views of others who want to keep you down, cloistered away and over-protected. Yet, as noted, all of these strong, important messages come through in “80” entirely organically–there’s no long, sappy, corny, dramatic speeches, monologues or soap box tirades–none. The film’s important messages come through by simply watching the film’s leading characters–and, yes, the film’s leading actresses–and realizing that by watching these four close friends, these lead characters, care about each other, support each other, and truly love each other, even amid the goofy comedy, the messages come through without any sermonizing.

And, yes, there’s equal positive, life-affirming satisfaction in sitting in a movie theater–“80 for Brady” should be seen in a real movie theater– and watching and enjoying the many-splendored,, multifaceted and still impressively talented performances of Fonda, Field, Tomlin and Moreno. They’re funny and, well, they’re just a hoot, if that hasn’t been mentioned.

It’s not ageist to note the ages of these stellar actresses–one of the other main messages of this movie is the portrayal of older women as real, active, smart, fun, funny, beautiful and full-of-life, real people. Too many films, television shows, plays, books and stories for too long now have just stupidly portrayed, repeatedly, older men and women in offensive manners, showing them as doddering, slow, sheltered, cranky, grumpy, ailing, backwards, out-of-it, demented, senile and depressing stereotypes and generalizations. The reality is that most older folks in this world are indeed still very much with us, and they are indeed active, well, upbeat, with it, healthy, involved, successful, productive and essential members of society.

And this is how the characters played by Fonda, Field, Tomlin and Moreno come through in “80 for Brady.”

For the record: Fonda is 85; Field is 76; Tomlin is 83; and Moreno is 91. To watch these wonderful women romp and roll and have so much fun on screen in this movie is truly an inspiration.

While watching “80 for Brady,” one may be tempted at times to think that there could be a bit of stilted silliness, corniness and predictability in the script and dialogue–and there is. But you know what? It doesn’t matter. This is one of those movies where the over-riding cheeriness, happiness, goofiness, optimism and positivity of the proceedings completely over-rides any little filmic nitpicks and concerns. There’s no too much fun going on, in this particular filmic case, to worry about such trivialities as story, script and dialogue shortcomings.

The four leads are ably supported by supportive, laid-back direction from Kyle Martin, the usual expert cinematography from John Toll, well-timed editing from Colin Patton, great Super Bowl site art, set and production design and a fun musical score by John Debney. Also providing great support is a star-studded supporting cast that includes Sara Gilbert, Bob Balaban, Rob Gronkowski, Rob Corddry, Patton Oswalt, Harry Hamlin, Sally Kirkland, Guy Fieri and Billy Porter.

Tom Brady co-produced the movie, and he appears in a few scenes–and he actually shines on screen in these brief scenes. There is one scene in particular where Brady delivers an impassioned reaction stare of intense concentration and insight–and, really, that scene is a stand-out in the movie. And Brady doesn’t say one word. It’s real acting. And there’s another scene between Brady and Tomlin that is equally effective.

The main, featured theme song “Gonna Be You” is written by Diane Warren–and the song is performed by Dolly Parton, Debbie Harry, Cyndi Lauper, Gloria Estefan and Belinda Carlisle. The producers of “80 for Brady” certainly didn’t skimp on the talent!

As a fun, funny sidelight and addendum, after you see the movie, call up the numerous advance promotional appearances made by Fonda, Field, Toin and Moreno on national television talk shows. Like the movie, these appearances are fun, funny, lighthearted–and life-affirming.

Interestingly, and somewhat oddly, in real life, the real Tom Brady announced his retirement from football on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023–two days before the movie’s scheduled release on Friday, Feb. 3, 2023. In many ways, this has absolutely nothing to do with going out and seeing and enjoying this movie. However, at the same time, maybe it’s also life-affirming to look at what Tom Brady just accomplished in life–he started his career in 2000 as a questionable low draft pick and subsequently became one of the greatest football players of all time, winning seven Super Bowls, setting scores of records and playing football until he was 45 years old. So, yes, that, too, is life-affirming.

Everything about “80 for Brady” is life-affirming. And watching this hoot of a movie, one can’t help but be reminded about some classic age- and life-related sayings that everyone, young and old, should take to heart:

–“Age is just a number.” –Cecelia Ahern.

–“Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” –Mark Twain.

–“We do not stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing!”
–Benjamin Franklin.

–30–
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Matt Neufeld

Matt Neufeld

Matt Neufeld is a longtime journalist, actor and film critic in the Washington and Baltimore areas. He has participated in many local film events and projects in the region, and he has appeared as an actor, supporting actor and extra in more than 45 films projects, at all levels, during the past 20 years.