[Screen It]


(2022) (Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda) (PG-13)

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Comedy: Four, eighty-ish friends travel to Houston to watch their favorite quarterback play in the Super Bowl.

Lou (LILY TOMLIN), Trish (JANE FONDA), Maura (RITA MORENO), and Betty (SALLY FIELD) are longtime friends who bonded over watching Tom Brady play quarterback for the New England Patriots while Lou was going through chemotherapy. With the Patriots going to yet another Super Bowl, Lou decides the four should go to the game and as luck would have it, they win tickets.

Arriving in Houston for the game against the Atlanta Falcons, they hope to have a good time, but when they lose those tickets -- and face other obstacles along the way -- they do what they can to make sure they don't miss watching their favorite quarterback hopefully lead their team to victory once again.

OUR TAKE: 4 out of 10

I always find it both interesting and amusing when everyday people and sports-related professionals use the word/acronym GOAT to describe the best performers in whatever the given sport might be. And that's because when I was growing up, "the goat" meant being a failure at the same. At least according to the old Peanuts comic strip where poor ol' Charlie Brown would mess up time and again and refer to himself as that particular livestock.

Nowadays, of course, it's exactly the opposite, and the person most associated with being "the goat" is none other than Tom Brady who's only just retired today (as of this writing) -- for a second time -- from the sport where he was undeniably the best at his particular position. And that would be NFL quarterback, and while he's had plenty of jealous detractors over the years -- especially fans of rival teams he bested -- he also has his steadfast admirers.

Probably the most unique among them was a quintet of silver-haired ladies from the Massachusetts town of North Attleborough who became known as the "Over 80 for Brady" club. Following the deaths of their husbands, the women came together and bonded by watching Tom lead the New England Patriots through thick and (very little) thin.

They and their fandom now come to the silver screen in "80 For Brady," a comedy where the names have been changed and the antics have significantly been given the Hollywood treatment, but the general gist of octogenarians rooting for that Brady youngster continue in this mostly lame but occasionally touching and heartwarming offering.

Directed by Kyle Marvin from a screenplay by Emily Halpern and Sarah Haskins (who've adapted a story pitched by the grandson of one of the real women), the story revolves around Lou (Lily Tomlin), Trish (Jane Fonda), Maura (Rita Moreno), and Betty (Sally Field) who have been Brady fans for many years ever since stumbling across his introductory game while Lou was recovering from her last chemo treatment.

They now get together for every game and go through their introductory superstitious ritual, but with Lou having gone through more tests recently, she announces to her friends that they should go to the Super Bowl in two weeks (the setting is 2017 when the Pats were going to face the Falcons in Houston for the big game).

After winning four tickets, what's seemingly going to turn into a road trip flick abandons both the road and the trip and immediately deposits the ladies in the Bayou City for events related to the game. That includes the NFL Experience program, and a hot wing eating contest (featuring Guy Fieri as himself), while Trish meets a former NFL player (Harry Hamlin), Lou imagines Brady talking directly to her from time to time, and Betty has to deal with her husband (Bob Balaban) repeatedly on the phone regarding him wanting her to proof his work as usual.

There's also a sequence where three of the ladies end up under the influence from eating drug-laced gummies, and while that would seemingly be rife for comedic potential, the script instead comes up with fairly bland material that leaves the veteran actresses mostly high, pun intended, and dry.

Alas, that applies to most of the rest of the attempted humor, which is somewhat of a surprise considering the screenwriters were half of the quartet that previously penned the far cleverer and funnier "Booksmart." Simply put, the screen legends with their combined years of experience and accolades deserved so much better than this. At least there's a heartwarming, if uber-contrived interaction between Tomlin and Brady that, for the most part, successfully tugs on the old heartstrings.

In the end, the film concludes with Brady sitting with those four and asking why retire if you think you still have it in you. He's now obviously done so, but the quartet of screen legends has not, and I guess that's the point. It's just too bad they weren't given a better script with which to work. "80 For Brady" fumbles in the old goat way and thus scores only a 4 out of 10.

Posted February 3, 2023

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