Betty, Trish, Louella and Mara look like the most unlikely football superfans. And but for one sticky TV remote, they never would have been.
It all started some years back when the elderly friends were gathering to support Lou, who had just finished a round of chemotherapy. They decided to watch some TV together, but couldn’t get the glitchy channel changer to work, so they ended up settling for a football game of all things.
They collectively knew very little about the sport—other than it dealt with a ball and a lot of running around. But then they spotted a handsome young quarterback named Brady. They started cheering him on. And before you know it, they were having a good time.
Sixteen years later, it’s 2017. And these four now-octogenarians still gather regularly to cheer their quarterback and support their team. This year, however, the New England Patriots are going to the Super Bowl. And instead of just having another get together for the big game, Lou suggests that they go see the game, and Mr. Brady himself, in person.
Then she arranges to get them tickets.
What the other gals don’t realize, however, is that Lou had gone into the hospital for some recent tests … and she fears the worst.
This then could be the trip of a lifetime. In more ways than one.
These four friends love each other dearly. And they’re ready to give voice to that sincere affection whenever it’s needed. They each have their own little quirks and foibles—such as Trish’s tendency to turn to plastic surgery and wigs to stave off old age—but these four friends support one another with all they have.
When Lou’s fears are revealed, the women all immediately support her. And when other things go wrong during the trip, they quickly rally together.
Lou also has something of an imaginary connection to Tom Brady himself. When she starts feeling down or upset, the quarterback’s image (in video and statuette forms) will look at her and give her words of encouragement. This fanciful connection mirrors the “you can do it, keep going” effect that watching Tom’s play on TV had given Lou when she was struggling with cancer. And later in the film she has a chance to express those feelings and thoughts to Tom Brady himself. Her words, in turn, have a bolstering effect on Tom when he’s in a tough spot in the Super Bowl game.
Betty and her husband rely on each other a great deal after 51 years of marriage. In his case, though, that reliance is almost unhealthy. And Betty has to gently push him toward more independent thought while at the same time expressing her sincere love for him.
Mara struggles with the recent death of her husband and the hole that’s left in her life. With support, she learns that life goes on, even after a devastating loss.
All of these relationships and individual struggles point to the fact that we must continue to grow wiser and stronger, no matter what our age.
We hear about a spicy chicken-wing hot sauce called “Satan’s Tongue.”
Trish can’t face the fact she is growing older. She notes that it has cost her a great deal to stay as young-looking as she does—including plastic surgery, suitcases full of wigs and clothes that hug her figure. All of that also plays into her implied sex life. Her friends mention that she is always dating someone new. At the Super Bowl, they find her in a supply closet kissing a guy. Trish does look younger than her friends. But she also laments the things that she’s sacrificed in her quest for perpetual “youthfulness,” including a family and grandkids.
Trish also writes slightly sexualized Gronk (as in Patriot tight end Rob Gronkowski) Fan Fiction, which her friends call “Gronkerotica.” Trish stumbles upon a display of her books at the Super Bowl and even reads parts of the book for a gathered crowd. A woman asks if she can preorder Trish’s next book, that will take place around Christmas. “The holidays are a very sexual time for me,” the woman notes.
The eighty-something friends are invited to a special pre-Super Bowl party at a mansion that’s filled with celebrities and wealthy patrons. Mara opines that there is likely an Eyes Wide Shut sex room somewhere on the premises.
During the party Betty accidentally hits a younger man in the face while she’s dancing. The two sit down and talk. And at one point, the much younger man moves to kiss Betty, who is simply trying to be nice. She balks at the advance.
We hear inappropriate giggles when some of the elderly friends comment about the much younger, and sweaty, football players.
Betty wears a fanny pack that she calls a “strap-on,” an innocent miscommunication and unintentionally suggestive double entendre that is used as a running joke for the rest of the film.
Parts of the Super Bowl game play out with thumping football hits and tackles, including one that drives Tom Brady face-first to the turf.
There’s one completely gratuitous f-word, several s-words, and several uses each of “d–n,” “h—” and “b—ch.” God’s name is misused about a dozen times.
The four friends drink glasses of wine and margaritas watching a football game in someone’s home. Radio announcers, talking about the upcoming Super Bowl in Houston, suggest that the city will soon run out of beer.
We see a lot of heavy drinking (wine, champagne and the like) by patrons at the pre-Super Bowl party. In fact, Betty and friends drink some wine there themselves and accidentally mix it with some “high potency” gummies they’re offered. This mixture leaves several of the women light-headed and staggering. And it gives Mara drugged visions that involve envisioning a room full of people as carbon copies of the same person (including her own reflection in a mirror).
Mara is also given some prescription pills by the manager of her retirement home. One of those pills is a strong sedative that almost instantly knocks her out cold.
The women join in on some gambling during the Super Bowl festivities. There’s also a bit of lying in the mix—though the perpetrators believe they are doing it to help others.
80 for Brady is an on-again, off-again kinda pic.
Here’s what I mean:
In a way, it’s like a rental bouncy house with a faulty air blower. Sometimes it’s buoyant and fun, other times a little flat. Sometimes it’s warm and playful, other times a little uncomfortable.
On a positive note, I will say that Sally Field, in particular, is a delight. She hits her character beats perfectly with all the charm you’d expect. And on top of that, the film ends with a solid message about supporting and encouraging the ones you love while expecting them to continue to grow. That’s a terrific redemptive message.
That said, there’s a fair bit of profanity and innuendo here, too—elements that detract from a story that’s otherwise sweeter and cuter than I expected it to be. I won’t say you have to be 80 to have a good time and wisely shrug off this pic’s deficiencies … but it wouldn’t hurt.
After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.