Even Bill Belichick's sour face can't spoil the buoyant mood of "80 for Brady."
The goofy comedy's title refers to friends, three in their 80s (played by Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda and Rita Moreno, who's actually 91) and one of whom frequently reminds the others she's just 75 (Sally Field). New England Patriots fans, they gather to watch games, ogle Tom Brady and eat popcorn but, in 2017, the Tomlin character has the idea that they should all follow the Patriots to the Super Bowl in Houston so they can see their beloved quarterback in person.
Most of the movie tracks their adventures, together and separately, in Texas. Field competes in Guy Fieri's hot wings competition. Fonda, whose character crafts Rob Gronkowski-themed erotica, bumps into a wealthy admirer. Moreno is dealt into a high-stakes poker game. Tomlin, who is the main character, has a hidden agenda that's broadly hinted at and, finally, revealed on the eve of the big game. Everyone goes a little crazy when they eat weed gummies.
It's bawdy, formulaic stuff, but "80 for Brady" feels fresh because the gifted quartet, with a total of five acting Oscars in their trophy cases, have such a snappy rapport and because they trust that the jokes will still land if they lean into the truth of the ridiculous situations in which their characters find themselves. Also, when's the last time you saw a big Hollywood studio movie in which all of the most important characters were older people?
Brady, who co-produced the comedy and plays himself, turns out to be a pretty good sport and a halfway-decent fairy godmother in scenes where Tomlin imagines he's speaking to her, guiding her to Houston. (In 2017, of course, he was married to Gisele Bündchen, who's not in the movie unless that's the back of her head in one celebratory moment.)
The script, by "Booksmart" writers Emily Halpern and Sarah Haskins, is clever, with some sharp jokes and a fictitious-but-credible take on how the Pats came back to win the Super Bowl. Even the stuff that seems odd, like the Moira Rose-esque hairdos Fonda always wears, is tied to credible character details (like Moira, she finds reassurance in her wig wall when she feels insecure). The depiction of the women occasionally gets a little cutesy, but all four are rooted in behaviors that feel legit, including renegotiating roles with husbands and backstroking into the 80-something dating pool.
"80 for Brady" was inspired by a real-life group of women, and it is genuinely inspiring. Although it's being released on the eve of football's big night, the movie is less about football than friendship and the way we trust our chosen families to come through for us, no matter what.
'80 for Brady'
**1/2 out of 4 stars
Rated: PG-13 for language and racy humor.
Where: In theaters.