Occasionally fun, often interesting, and mostly peculiar, 80 for Brady does for old women what Last Vegas does for old men, but with half the stakes and one-third the jokes. Of course, the “old person” comedy has been in and out of cachet ever since George Burns, Art Carney, and Lee Strasberg wore Groucho glasses in 1979’s Going in Style, although has seen a big resurgence since 2007’s The Bucket List (even a Going in Style remake in 2017). And yet, we’ve never quite settled on a formula for these movies because it’s less about the genre than it is about the themes of aging and evolved perspective.
Kyle Marvin’s 80 for Brady centers on a quartet of elderly women (played by Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda, Sally Field, and Rita Moreno) who are diehard New England Patriots football fans on a mission to make it to see their team play in the Super Bowl. Conquering its first story obstacle rather quickly (the ladies win tickets in the first 20 minutes), the film proceeds to struggle with its overall purpose and never finds a throughline of tension. It quickly turns into an episodic series of inserted ideas that serve little narrative importance, meant only to be spectated passively. No friction is ever sustained because we go long stretches without anything at stake.
Written by Sarah Haskins and Emily Halpern (Booksmart), the script features several unrelated setbacks along the way but almost always fails to find any connective tissue between those setbacks and their resolution. When they are overcome, it’s usually anticlimactic. For instance, one of the friends loses the Super Bowl tickets, which becomes the film’s main issue for all of 20 minutes (it would have been THE main issue in any other movie). But then, it’s simply resolved when the ladies find some famous person they happen to know who then lets them into the stadium.
And so the plot finds something new to worry about and we get to repeat steps one through three. This method continuously removes any sense of urgency from the obstacles that would propel things forward. Aaron Sorkin once said that any good film needs intention and obstacle. 80 for Brady can never find ways for these two things to coexist, let alone in a way that’s plausible.
But then you have scenes that could only live inside this movie, like when Rita Moreno does a bunch of drugs, thinks she’s Guy Fieri, and then ends up at a poker table with Marshawn Lynch and Patton Oswalt (they all start calling her “Flavor Town”). It’s a funny sequence, not because the scene itself is inherently funny or well-written, but because it exists in the first place.
Striving for the kind of random energy of a Seth Rogen event-comedy, 80 for Brady manages to obviate the necessities of quality storytelling — mostly because it’s just so weird and its sloppiness renders it unpredictable by default.
It’s not unpredictable, of course, and telegraphs most of its main beats through sheer incompetence — at least once it establishes these individual and incongruent conflicts. However, there is a nice series of scenes during the climax involving the titular NFL star.
Also, grumpy old men are funny; naïve old women are not — at least not for 90 minutes. That said, Tomlin gives this role her all, approaching her character as though she’s an actual diehard sports fan with the psychotic desperation for winning that any diehard sports fan can relate to. Actually, all four actresses are superb here, although there’s not much for them to chew on.
80 for Brady is just about as enjoyable as a bad movie can be, without being enjoyable because it’s bad. Nothing about the film ever seems like it should be able to overcome its status as bargain Redbox filler. And, had this been some generic road movie or vacation caper, it would’ve fallen into obscurity within a month. But it’s the premise that makes this work. The magic of sports knows no bounds. And as Tomlin’s character finds her connection with her team, we too yearn for them to win, regardless of what side we’re on.
Twizard Rating: 64
Originally published at Popzara.com