I volunteered to write an 80 for Brady review, and everyone was ready for me to do it, because we all assumed it would reignite my snark that has long been dormant on this site.
I am about to wildly disappoint everyone.
This movie was, top to bottom, a f**king delight.
This movie made me *hork* like Tom Brady? Someone I have long described as the worst famous sports alumni of Serra High, a school that was in my high school’s conference and where Tom and I’s tenures overlapped by a couple years. (Yes, I’m old. But younger than Tawmy Brady!) (Barry Bonds also went to Serra, which is why this reference is funny. To exactly me.)
Sports petty runs deep in my veins. As deep as it does in my new hometown of New Orleans, where the only thing they like more than the Saints winning is the Falcons losing and they still celebrate the Falcons blowing a twenty-five point lead in the 2017 Super Bowl. Did the Saints have any involvement in that game? No. Do New Orleanians care? Also no. Grab your tickets to watch it happen on the big screen, my NOLA peeps.
And to that end, the game footage from that Super Bowl (LI) was impeccably interwoven into the action. I guess when Brady is a producer, that can happen. This is the best sports action I’ve ever seen in a film, and that’s because it’s literally just the action from the game. Those 800 cameras we have at every event now are serving their purpose. Honestly, not going to be mad if we see more of this in the future in sports movies. Keeps me from having to really work to suspend my disbelief when a 5’6” actor is playing a wide receiver.
Before we get into the utterly absurd premise of this movie, I want to discuss the four superstar bombshells at the center of it. Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Rita Moreno, and Sally Field are absolute powerhouse actresses that continue to have an indelible imprint on Hollywood and prove that age ain’t nothing but a number, refusing to be made irrelevant just because they’re old. How well each character was drawn and acted is a further testament to the women who gave us everything from Steel Magnolias to 9 to 5 to West Side Story. And they do it again as Lou (Tomlin), Trish (Fonda), Betty (Fields), and Maura (Moreno).
Every beat of this movie was perfect. It didn’t drag. Was it ridiculous? Absolutely! But the perfect amount of ridiculous. What if The Hangover was more thoughtful, less blue, and about four women going to the Super Bowl? Et voila! 80 for Brady! Girls’ Trip but older and in Houston? 80 for Brady.
The beat I most loved was the first beat: the four women gathering to watch the AFC championship game. I have never before seen my precise type of fandom illustrated on screen as I did by Lily Tomlin’s Lou. I mean, I’m not quite as tightly wound about people’s exact placement as she is. But superstitious is superstitious, and the practically falling apart purple LSU Nike sports bra I wore for every game, and the national championship, in 2019 would like a word about my behavior.
The purple nails I kept every football season, all season, for many years have a little bit in common with Trish’s Patriots themed nails. These are touches that I love and understand. And I was happy to see them on the big screen. (The biggest suspension of disbelief required in this movie was the notion that even a small purse can be taken into an NFL stadium. Even Hollywood can’t with that absolute nonsense, sports. *stares incredulously into camera*)
Our quartet cheered, they paid attention, they had their own little hand gestures and songs. It made me wish I’d had more of that in my life: four close women friends who actually watch and enjoy and understand sports the way I do. I have a lot more of that now, and it made me happy to contemplate the truth of that as well. (I’m sorry, the last four years of *this* have made me sappy and the movie was delightful, what do you want from me?!)
That may be the thing that warmed my heart the most: seeing women sports fans represented and respected. Sure, they had bedazzled jerseys. But, my god, it worked!
Jane Fonda’s Trish is allowed to be beautiful and perhaps vain, without being vapid. She’s a successful writer of Gronk erotic fan fiction, and it’s such a pitch-perfect note and treated with respect and seriousness, as it deserves to be. She uses a pen name that she tells her new love interest was actually the name of her poodle. “Your poodle likes football players, I take it?” he queries. “No,” she replies, “I do!” Get yours, Trish! She is allowed to not only like men but encouraged to fall in love regularly and be herself and yes! That!
Sally Field’s Betty is a slightly uptight applied mathematics professor married to the kind of absent-minded professor she babies a bit too much. But she understands stats and is working her knowledge of them into the game as she watches and appreciating that aspect of it. Women can be stats nerds too! In a wholly organic and authentic to the character way. It clearly wasn’t try-hard or done to impress men, an accusation often lobbed (unfairly) at women sports fans.
Rita Moreno’s Maura may be my favorite. She gambles. Which isn’t an issue because she wins. And her budding romance with Mick, played wonderfully by Glynn Turman, is a joy to watch. His acceptance of her friends as very cool and recognizing and appreciating how important they are is what we should all expect in a partner.
Maura is a recent widower and struggling with that. But even then, her zest for life is aspirational. And her drug-induced hallucinations during a poker game were laugh out loud funny.
I laughed a lot. A lot more than I expected to. And more than the audience did as a whole. I’m going to guess that I am the absolute wheelhouse fan for this movie: I genuinely love and enjoy sports, I know how difficult it is to be a woman sports fan and how precious your fellow women fans are. And I know a bit about being…not so young anymore.
I started to write that I used to be a sports fan, but this movie did something else as well. It made me remember why I loved sports, and specifically football, to begin with. I’m not saying I’ll go back to wearing the ratty purple sports bra (I can’t, I threw it away). But it reminded me of what it was I liked about football in the first place: the joys of experiencing the highs and lows and sharing that with a collective group. While somehow making Tom Brady a sympathetic character? WHAT IS HAPPENING?!
Our foursome have the usual road trip to a big event adventures, fraught with stakes that you know they’ll overcome, and some unexpected moments as well. I felt for these women. I cared about these women. I loved their joy and their misadventures. I even loved the relatable mid-movie meltdown of all of them. I have a girls’ trip coming up and am already girding for when we all run short on patience at the same time, because it’s bound to happen. It’s how you overcome and who you overcome it with that makes it worthwhile, as our ladies do here.
I even loved the absolutely wildly fictional parts of this, from Super Bowl parties to a fantastic series of cameos by Guy Fieri (who I have appreciated for a while) to the luxury suite and locker room scenes. I got giddy seeing the characters interact with the players when invited to the locker room after the win. Each woman has an interaction with a different player in that scene that is so humorous and touching as to want that for yourself.
I thought about how that would have felt after LSU’s 2019 title and that though I don’t feel like these women do about Tom Brady, I regularly use the gif of Holly Hunter sobbing in Raising Arizona about loving him so much to describe my affinity for Joe Burrow. So, call me, Hollywood, in *mumble* years and we’ll remake this to be about my beloved baby boy Joey B.
Lastly, I appreciate the seize the moment messaging. If you have the barest hint of sentience and aren’t a psychopath, the last several years have been challenging, at the very least. Seize the moments. Even if you don’t get the precise moment, even if your trip takes unexpected turns and things don’t play out as you envision, you need to leave the house and have the adventure.
I say this as perhaps the most house cat of a person to ever house cat. But even I know those moments are rare and should be treasured. Whether it’s one last chance to see Tom Brady in a Pats uniform in the Super Bowl or, for me, a flight to New Orleans to see LSU win a national title with Joe Burrow at quarterback with a ticket purchased from a Clemson undergrad three hours before the game, we all need to lean into and take the opportunity to have those moments. They’re rare. And should be held close, as they deserve to be. And we shouldn’t be afraid to take them because we are Too…something. These four women, through an absurdist adventure to the Super Bowl, prove you are never too old for a raucous good time.
And they had a good time. They had the BEST time.
Though there are nits I could pick (Tomlin’s fading in and out Boston accent, a couple loose threads and unnecessary characters, things I would have liked to see explored more), I’d rather just remember the good time. This movie was a good time, and I hope you all enjoy it as well.
I do have to add a postscript, with a spoiler warning:
I saw the movie on Tuesday night and while half awake on Wednesday morning, I saw some chatter about Tom Brady on Twitter. I, uh, have his name muted because, I mean… So I went investigating and discovered that he had retired. Again. For realsies this time? And he announced this in a video of him sitting on the sand dunes at the beach. In my blurry state, I was very confused and convinced for a minute this was a bit because that is LITERALLY how the movie ends: with Tom Brady sitting on the beach with our four 80s for Brady discussing whether he will retire or not. And then suddenly that was happening? Is this…coordinated? I wish I had a screen grab of that final scene because I’m convinced he was wearing the same shirt in the movie and his retirement announcement. I’m shocked Lily Tomlin didn’t come walking through the background of his video. If he timed this purposely to coincide with the movie coming out (and I do think he and his people are that savvy), I salute you, sir.
[Image from Paramount Pictures on YouTube]