I watched ‘80 for Brady,’ a Tom Brady gushfest that avoids Tampa Bay
A cast of legends reminds us that the Bucs were always an afterthought.
Lily Tomlin is seen alongside Tom Brady in a scene from "80 for Brady."
Lily Tomlin is seen alongside Tom Brady in a scene from "80 for Brady." [ SCOTT GARFIELD | AP ]
Published Feb. 7|Updated Feb. 7

Superhero movies tend to conclude with a stinger, an extra bit of film that teases a forthcoming plot development. Thanos has laid waste to the globe, for example, and only Carol Danvers can help. These morsels keep us coming back for more … sels …

Thanos — I mean Tom Brady — is at it again. SPOILER. SPOILER. SPOILER. At the end of the 98-minute product-placement vehicle “80 For Brady,” the star quarterback reclines on a sandy beach with the movie’s protagonists, a group of women in their 70s and 80s. They discuss retirement, and the audience braces for what will surely be a groaner.

“It would be a shame to retire if you feel like you still got it,” Brady says, knowing glint in his knowing eye.

AHHHHHHIWYO*^#$&T(DOFH(U*B(@^RGH. How long will the zeitgeist tolerate this winky-winky comedy routine? For how many eons will this warlord from the moon Titan keep us in his leathery grips?

I hoovered Butter Flavored Topping at the Oldsmar AMC Woodlands Square 20 along with a smattering of Women of a Certain Age populating the Monday matinee. The demographic was no coincidence. Paramount has set discount daytime pricing for this movie, making a ticket less than $10. The strategy appeared to pay off as “80 for Brady” kept pace with rival release “Knock at the Cabin,” starring another Tampa superhero, Dave Bautista.

A real group of fans called the “Over 80 for Brady” club inspired the film. Here, they are played by absolute queen legends Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda, Sally Field and Rita Moreno, all looking happy and fantastic, by the way. One can only assume these screen icons needed to repave their pool decks and the paychecks were fat.

From left, Jane Fonda, Sally Field, Lily Tomlin and Rita Moreno in a scene from "80 for Brady."
From left, Jane Fonda, Sally Field, Lily Tomlin and Rita Moreno in a scene from "80 for Brady." [ SCOTT GARFIELD | AP ]

While helping Tomlin’s character through chemotherapy, the friends become unwitting New England Patriots fans as the TV gets stuck on a game. They embark on a mission to get to the 2017 Super Bowl, which non-sports fans will remember as “the one with Lady Gaga,” and hijinks ensue. Each woman gets her own subplot to plumb, but Tomlin in particular is guided spiritually by a floating, wise Tom Brady seraph. Which, same.

OK, fine, crusty heart, blah, blah, blah. The plot is largely sweet and innocent, even a refreshing portrayal of the complexity of older female friendships. I will recap the movie blow-for-blow in my newsletter Monday, so subscribe to learn which octogenarian eats too many funny gummies and hallucinates a bunch of Guy Fieris. I wish that was hyperbole!

Brady produced the movie, as most of us would be tempted to develop a masterwork about our adoring fans. Brady worship touches everything the light hits, giving the movie the energy of a prerecorded skit sponsored by Doritos airing during halftime at the Super Bowl. Big Queen Elizabeth skydiving at the Olympics vibes, you know? It casts Brand Brady and the NFL as wholesome commercial properties and posits that a band of plucky elders influenced the outcome of that great football comeback, not Grumpy Cat Bill Belichick.

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Where does the movie leave Tampa Bay? As an afterthought, a blip, a forgotten ex-girlfriend. Like, “Tampa? Oh, she’s really cool, too, I guess.” It hurts! What about Tequila Tom? His boat parade glory days?!?

Though the Buccaneers are shoehorned in awkwardly toward the end, our pirate pals remain a footnote to a football career that blossomed and lived its best life in Boston. “80 for Brady” is a reminder that Tampa Bay probably never meant that much to Brady in the grand scheme. We were a stinger, a tool to keep people coming back for more. And now, we return to sand.

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