80 FOR BRADY movie poster | ©2023 Paramount Pictures

80 FOR BRADY movie poster | ©2023 Paramount Pictures

Rating: PG-13
Stars: Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda, Rita Moreno, Sally Field, Tom Brady, Harry Hamlin, Sara Gilbert, Bob Balaban, Glynn Turman, Rob Corddry, Guy Fieri, Billy Porter
Writers: Emily Halpern & Sarah Haskins
Director: Kyle Marvin
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Release Date: February 3, 2023

80 FOR BRADY is a genial comedy that brings together four women of a certain age. After first starring together in 1980’s 9 TO 5 and in seven seasons (2015-2022) of the Netflix comedy GRACE AND FRANKIE, it seems perfectly natural to see Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda playing lifelong friends. They are joined here by Rita Moreno and Sally Field.

Tomlin’s Lou, Fonda’s Trish, and Moreno’s Maura are all meant to be eighty-ish (in reality, Moreno is ninety-one and in extraordinary shape), while Field’s Betty continually reminds us that she’s only seventy-five. We’re in 2017 Boston, where the quartet gather at Lou’s house to cheer on their beloved Patriots football team, especially quarterback Tom Brady.

When the Patriots are victorious in a playoff that sends them to the Super Bowl in Houston, a talk show launches a contest that will grant four tickets to the big game to whoever calls in with the best story. Lou stuns the others with news of their win, so off to Houston they go, excited both by the prospect of seeing the Patriots play in person, and just by the idea of having an adventure.

For those who’ve seen the trailer, or really, any other upbeat road trip comedy, it’s not hard to guess that what we have here is a tale of women get tickets, women meet unanticipated challenges, women triumph in the end. A movie like 80 FOR BRADY lives or dies on its details, and here, they are good.

For starters, writers Emily Halpern & Sarah Haskins give all of the leads enough back story and personality to differentiate them, without making us feel that we’re being bombarded by bathos. Any time things threaten to get too dark, Lou experiences visions of Brady (good-naturedly portraying himself) giving her pep talks.

Director Kyle Marvin also has a pleasing grip on tone and pacing. Again, there is a fair amount of sentiment baked into what’s happening, but it feels unforced. The women come off as legitimate longtime pals who enjoy teasing each other but have true affection.

This leads us directly to 80 FOR BRADY’s true main event, which is to see Tomlin, Fonda, Moreno and Field all together, getting to crack jokes, dance a little, do their thing and generally reminding everyone simply by existing and having fun that getting older doesn’t necessarily mean giving up on life.

There are game supporting turns by Billy Porter, Sara Gilbert, Glynn Turman, Harry Hamlin, and Bob Balaban. Football player Rob Gronkowski appears as himself, and Guy Fieri does a lot more than we might at first suppose with his screen time.

80 FOR BRADY isn’t perfect. There are a couple of supporting characters that are caricatures, and maybe one too many verbalizations of the movie’s themes. But overall, 80 FOR BRADY knows what it’s doing. It’s not aiming for greatness, just entertainment and showcasing its glorious stars. In this, it succeeds.

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