Review: '80 for Brady' is a Joyous Tribute to Friendship at Any Age

by Frank J. Avella

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Monday January 30, 2023

"80 for Brady"
"80 for Brady"  

You don't have to be a football fan or in your 80s to fully enjoy "80 for Brady" for exactly what it is: A loving, warmhearted comedy that boasts four true film icons (as that word is sorely overused) having a blast, but also etching characters with their own inner conflicts and outer masks to shield themselves from pain, hurt, and/or embarrassment. 

Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Sally Field, and Rita Moreno play a group of long-time gal-pals who often gather to watch their favorite sport. Their collective dream is to attend the 2017 Super Bowl to watch yummy quarterback Tom Brady hopefully lead the Patriots to victory (the game turned out to be quite historic).

Tomlin plays cancer survivor Lou, who wins tickets to the game and has a cryptic reason for needing to bucket-list the event. Fonda hilariously embraces her role as Trish, a former beauty queen who now writes erotic football-themed fan-fiction with "Gronk" in the titles. "Do you know what it costs to look like this?" she sassily asks when she's told she's still gorgeous. 

Moreno's Maura is a recent widow who resides in an assisted living facility. And Field, the youngest of the gaggle, who keeps announcing she's only 75, plays Betty, a math whiz, married for five decades and is ready to journey beyond her comfort zone.

The simple plot, inspired by a true story, takes these ladies on a trip to Houston where they lose their tickets and then must find a way to get into the stadium.

The script, by Sarah Haskins and Emily Halpern, mostly plays it safe, opting for more of a pastiche narrative, but provides some glimpses into what makes this quartet tick... and tock. 

Kyle Martin's terrifically paced direction highlights the bond these women have with one another, and the importance of their friendship.

The film maintains its "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" spirit, but also gives us a couple of wonderful true-life scenes. We see Fonda's glammed up Trish sans wig or makeup in one scene, showing her vulnerable side (she also gets to spoon with Lou when they share a bed). And Field's Betty has her own cathartic moments — one in particular with a 36-year-old hottie (Matt Laurie) who she tries to "neg." I only wish the filmmakers had taken that scene just a smidge further. 

Billy Porter, Harry Hamlin, and Bob Balaban have a few brief-but-memorable scenes as well.

Tom Brady does a decent enough job of portraying (satirizing) himself both on the field, in the locker room, and as a bobble-head/billboard who speaks directly to Tomlin's Lou.

Diane Warren (nominated for her 14th Oscar this year) wrote the rousing original song, "Gonna Be You," performed by Dolly Parton, Cyndi Lauper, Belinda Carlisle, Gloria Estefan, and Debbie Harry. She may just be looking at her 15th nomination next year.

"80 for Brady" is a joyous and delightful tribute to the power of female friendships (at any age) with Fonda and Tomlin, particularly, displaying a love and ease around one another that shines through — which makes sense, since the actors first worked together in 1980 (along with Dolly Parton) in Colin Higgin's comedy classic "9 to 5," and, more recently, spent seven sensational seasons as platonic soul mates on the (still-longest-running) Netflix series, "Grace and Frankie."

"80 for Brady" opens February 3, 2023, in theaters everywhere.

Frank J. Avella is a film journalist and is thrilled to be writing for EDGE. He also contributes to Awards Daily and is the GALECA East Coast Rep and a Member of the New York Film Critics Online. Frank is a recipient of the International Writers Residency in Assisi, Italy, a Bogliasco Foundation Fellowship, and a NJ State Arts Council Fellowship. His short film, FIG JAM, has shown in Festivals worldwide ( and won awards. His screenplays (CONSENT, LURED, SCREW THE COW) have also won numerous awards in 16 countries. He is a proud member of the Dramatists Guild.