Tom Brady’s retirement announcement Wednesday was widely applauded, sharing the news in a stripped-down, 50-second video, eschewing longwinded bluster in favor of a surprisingly poignant and heartfelt message. While the prevailing sentiment is that Brady redeemed himself by finally striking the right tone, avoiding the glitz and glamour that plagued his first announcement (and subsequent unretirement), skeptics would note its convenient timing, coming on the eve of his new movie.
Maybe it’s giving him too much credit to assume this was anything other than a coincidence, though if it was done intentionally to coincide with the release of 80 for Brady, opening in theaters nationwide this weekend, you’d have to give Brady and his team props for a clever bit of guerilla marketing, giving the film plenty of free publicity by dominating the news cycle for the better part of 24 hours.
Cynicism aside, anticipation is growing with costars Lily Tomlin, Sally Fields, Rita Moreno and Jane Fonda nearing the end of what has been a lengthy promotional tour, making the late-night and early-morning rounds with recent appearances on Jimmy Kimmel, The Kelly Clarkson Show, Today and CBS Sunday Morning. Reaction to 80 for Brady, when it was announced last year and again following its trailer release six months ago, was decidedly mixed. While some expressed mild optimism for the film’s feel-good premise, others dismissed it as corny and unoriginal, big-budget fluff coasting off the considerable charm of its lead actresses.
The consensus among top film critics is that 80 for Brady won’t win any hardware come award season, though, at a brisk hour and 38 minutes, it’s harmless fun, balancing its cheesier elements with likable leads and a cheerfulness reminiscent of the best episodes of Ted Lasso, albeit against the backdrop of a predictable plot and a cringe-worthy performance by Brady, whose acting chops clearly don’t measure up to his quarterback abilities.
“For such a mediocre effort, it still manages to come across as watchable and charming because Tomlin, Field, Fonda, and Moreno are all such likable presences,” wrote Leigh Monson, who gave the film a C grade in a review for AV Club. “The film is by no means distinctive, hilarious, or memorable in any way, but for as cloying as this attempt at Brady brand rehabilitation could have been, it’s a testament to the magnetic appeal of ageless stars who know how to carry a film to the end zone.”
“The titular QB may have been tough to beat on the gridiron, but on the big screen, it's 80 for Brady's veteran leading ladies who make this lightweight comedy a fitfully winsome watch,” opined aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes, where the film holds a respectable 63-percent approval rating out of 40 reviews.
While it may not warrant repeat viewings, 80 for Brady, despite its narrative flaws and gratuitous cameos from former Patriots (Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman among them), sounds like a pleasant enough watch, the kind of low-lift popcorn fodder that should make for a satisfying afternoon at the local cinema.
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