Tom Brady is already thinking like a shrewd Hollywood type, announcing his retirement – maybe this one will take? – the same week his football flick “80 for Brady” is released. Or maybe the NFL’s quarterbacking great just caught the acting bug.
Brady certainly has some fine role models: Lily Tomlin, Sally Field, Jane Fonda and Rita Moreno star in the earnest but pleasant sports comedy (★★½ out of four; rated PG-13; in theaters Friday) as die-hard New England Patriots fans who travel to Houston to see their main man play. So if you ever wanted your mom to get into football, here’s your chance.
Let's begin with Dolly Parton, Belinda Carlisle, more pop icons singing the official '80 for Brady' anthem
Friendship brings our Tom Brady-loving protagonists together
Set during the 2017 playoff season, director Kyle Marvin’s feature debut centers on Boston women Lou (Tomlin), Trish (Fonda), Betty (Field) and Maura (Moreno) as they root on their beloved Pats – but mostly the “beautiful and hydrated” QB – for another Super Bowl run. They’ve been watching football together since the pals came to help Lou when she had cancer and ended up watching Brady’s first game. Now, though, Lou wants to take a trip to the Big Game, so they enter a ticket giveaway, snag some seats and head off for an adventure.
'80 for Brady' pulls from a true story yet is conservative with the silly stuff
Fun fact: “80 for Brady” is based on a real-life club of elderly Brady fans, though “80” takes it in a far-fetched, fictionalized direction with nursing-home breakouts, accidental drug use, hot wing contests and so much awkward dancing. With a screenplay by Emily Halpern and Sarah Haskins – who worked on the genius “Booksmart” – it has a fun energy, especially when the main characters are left to their own devices, but often pumps the brakes before it goes too overboard. Leaning into something bonkers like “The Hangover,” however, would have been better than simply veering into familiar sports-movie territory.
All of the A-listers get their time in the spotlight
At least its quartet of famous actresses seems to be having fun and every main player gets her own character arc. Maura recently lost her husband and needs to be around her friends. Trish writes erotic Rob Gronkowski fan fiction though, in her own love life, tends to fall too hard too fast – and, of course, meets an attractive ex-footballer (Harry Hamlin) at the Super Bowl. Betty is a smart math professor tired of reading her husband’s academic papers and could use some spice in her life (which comes in the form of chicken wings). And Lou wants this journey to be an ultimate trip for the BFFs because she feels bad news might be on the horizon.
Cue the notable cameos – plus Patriots aplenty
"80 for Brady" is packed with familiar faces: Billy Porter has a role as a dance choreographer who befriends the core ladies, Flavortown favorite Guy Fieri plays himself and takes a liking to Betty's taste buds and comedian Ron Funches is a dogged security guard at the Super Bowl. The 2017 Patriots/Falcons game unfolds in the film's final act (no spoilers from six years ago but it's a pretty thrilling contest), and real players like Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman and Gronk (naturally) make an appearance.
But here's some news: Tom Brady can act!
Forget those bad Subway commercials: Brady, who is also a producer on the film, does a solid job playing himself. (Who could do better?) Screen Tom serves as Lou's imagined self-help guru early on in the movie and then Lou's able to return the favor and do the real quarterback a solid. Tomlin and Brady have the movie's most sentimental moment, proving he can throw a tight spiral and make you cry. So maybe there's life after football for the G.O.A.T. after all.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: '80 for Brady' review: NFL great Tom holds own with Jane Fonda and Co.