'80 for Brady's fabulous football foursome

  • by Laura Moreno
  • Saturday February 11, 2023
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Rita Moreno, Jane Fonda, Sally Field and Lily Tomlin in '80 for Brady'
Rita Moreno, Jane Fonda, Sally Field and Lily Tomlin in '80 for Brady'

When was the last time a football film brought women, not to mention senior citizen women en masse to the theater?

An ode to New England Patriot's legendary quarterback Tom Brady, "80 for Brady" boasts a most accomplished cast. The fabulous four are Sally Field as MIT math professor Betty, Jane Fonda as ex-model romance writer Trish, Rita Moreno as spitfire widow Maura, and Lily Tomlin as cancer survivor Lou who has a very special spiritual connection with Tom Brady.

Plus, the film features the singular personalities of Billy Porter, Harry Hamlin, Guy Fieri, Sara Gilbert, comedian Jimmy O. Yang, football great Rob Gronkowski, and a beautiful new actor in his debut role: Tom Brady.

Billy Porter, as ever, fills the dancing shoes of his character Gugu, a choreographer, admirably. He calls the film, "'Bridesmaids' meets 'Golden Girls.'"

Lily Tomlin's 1000-watt smile lights up the big screen as the award-winning actresses make their on-screen antics look effortless. It's truly encouraging to see that the team comes off looking just a tad superhuman, like Brady himself.

The film is based on the true story of four die-hard Tom Brady fans, best friends over 80 years old, who attend the 2017 Super Bowl "to enjoy men the way the Romans did," says Lily Tomlin's character, where they witness the greatest comeback in NFL history.

The cinematography is at times breathtaking, as with absolutely beautiful scenes of Boston and the Charles River. And there are a few unexpected visual jokes thrown in, like Sally Field's jersey having the "80" x-ed out and replaced with "70" in red. When the girls chant "80 for Brady," Sally Field (born in 1946) adds, "I'm not 80." And Rita Moreno replies that she's not 80 either. (She's in her 90s.)

And when the four girls share two beds in the hotel, Jane Fonda's arm is visible around Lily Tomlin's waist in bed. Somehow, it's totally in character. Fonda revealed to TheThings.com, "...without even thinking about it, I spooned her. It just felt really great. I don't know of another actor I'd do that with."

In the same interview, Lily Tomlin added, "After being Grace and Frankie for so many years, we often wound up sleeping in the same bed."

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

Another memorable moment is when Jane Fonda opens her luggage to reveal that it's full of nothing but wigs.

Lest anyone momentarily forget that Trisha's "giddy up glamor" and gaudy cowgirl boots are just part of a role she's playing, Jane Fonda fearlessly appears in a scene without a wig at all, sporting her own short gray haircut.

There are doses of reality, too, as when the women get suckered into eating gummy edibles, offering Rita Moreno a chance to flex her powerful acting chops. And when the foursome gets stuck with fake Super Bowl tickets that look just like the real thing. They were purchased, buyer beware, online. It's a reminder that 20 years on, the internet is still the wild west.

The only thing missing from the film, I thought, was Dolly Parton. But she's in the opening music video with another fab four (Priscilla Presley look-alike Belinda Carlisle, Gloria Estefan, Cyndi Lauper, and Deborah Harry) who deserved more screen time in the film. The music video "Gonna Be You" is a celebration of friendship written by Diane Warren.

My only other beef with the film is its portrayal of a fairly new, anti-intellectual stereotype: Sally Field's on-screen husband is shown as a head-in-the-clouds intellectual fuddy-duddy who can't even remember to put his pants on. It's a cheap joke that ignores how important the work of the MIT math department really is.

The film culminates in a colorful beach scene of the four stars lolling under beach umbrellas with Tom Brady in long white shorts. Festooned in leisurely outfits made of billowy fabric with innocent prints, large floppy straw hats, and a requisite large bow atop the head, the scene is reminiscent of 1930s beach fashion, which happens to be when three of the four living legends were born. There could be no ending more perfect.

In theaters in San Francisco until Feb. 16 and streaming on Vudu www.vudu.com

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