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'80 for Brady' Is Awful, But You Already Knew That

By Dustin Rowles | Film | February 4, 2023 |

By Dustin Rowles | Film | February 4, 2023 |


I drew the short straw on the review for 80 for Brady, which is all the shorter because I doubt anyone on staff here loathes Tom Brady as much as I do. Not because of his supposed politics or his off-the-field drama; I loathe him for his accomplishments on the field. I loathe him because he beat my team so many times (and this is true of anyone who is not a New England Patriots or Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan). I loathe him because I hate that this schmuck is the greatest NFL player of all time, a label even his fiercest rivals would not dispute.

The good news for those who, like me, loathe Tom Brady is that 80 for Brady is horrible. By every objective measure, it is a supremely shitty film. It is terribly directed by Kyle Marvin (making his feature directorial debut, and it shows); the writing from Sarah Haskins and Emily Halpern (Booksmart) is atrocious (and I loved Booksmart); and the acting — even from some of the best veteran actresses in the business — is bad, although not as painful as the awkward, wooden acting of Tom Brady himself. The whole movie is 100 minutes of cringe.

But here’s the thing: It doesn’t matter. Not for the target demographic which, judging from the audience in my theater, is older folks (mostly women) wearing Tom Brady jerseys. I’m sure the film will play much better in New England, but all the same, the audience here loved it, laughed in the spaces where laughter was supposed to go, talked through the whole goddamn film like it was a sporting event (not that I minded), and lost their damn minds when Tom Brady made his appearances.

I think the audience members would also concede that the film was bad, but most of them did not care. They were there to see Brady — and to a lesser extent, legends like Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda, Sally Field, and Rita Moreno — on the big screen. They got what they paid for. Glorified cameos from Guy Fieri, Billy Porter, and Harry Hamlin, not to mention brief appearances from Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman were gravy.

In 80 for Brady, four women in their 80s (one is actually in her 70s, and another in her 90s) decide to go watch Tom Brady play in the 2017 Superbowl. Inspired by a true story, the four women became obsessed with Brady when they discovered him, by accident, after one of the women (Tomlin) completed cancer treatment, and the four bonded over their affection for him.

The four travel to Houston after breaking Moreno out of her nursing home. There, Sally Field wins a hot wings contest put on by Guy Fieri; Moreno wins a poker game against Billy Porter, Patton Oswalt, and Marshawn Lynch (criminally underused here); and Fonda develops a crush on a former NFL player, played by Harry Hamlin. The importance of the weekend is magnified by the fact that Tomlin is awaiting medical results, and she fears her cancer has returned.

The one thing that 80 for Brady has going for it, particularly for fans of Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, is that it’s set at the 2017 Super Bowl, which is arguably (sigh) the best Super Bowl game ever, the one where Tom Brady led the Patriots from a 28-3 deficit to an unexpected, almost miraculous victory over the Atlanta Falcons. The way the movie tells it, these four women played roles in Brady’s comeback, and the film gets to take advantage of the actual, dramatic footage from the 2017 Super Bowl comeback to amp up the drama (poor Matt Ryan, forced to relive his catastrophic loss on the big screen).

Tom Brady may be the best quarterback to ever play the game, but he is a lousy actor and even worse as a comedian (see, e.g., his painful SNL episode). He also produced this film, which also proves he has lousy instincts, except that his name does attract the likes of Field, Moreno, Fonda, and Tomlin. But again, 80 for Brady’s badness won’t matter to the people who pay to see this movie, and there are plenty enough of them to generate a profit (the film is running neck-and-neck with the new Shyamalan for the weekend’s top film). If you are not a fan of Brady or of the Patriots, however, there is no reason to pay to see this movie.