Golden Girls Just Wanna Have Fun – Film Review: 80 For Brady ★★★1/2

Stepping out of a wet New York winter afternoon, it didn’t take long for this lovingly woven comfort blanket of a movie—think The Golden Girls meets a gentler version of The Hangover—to warm me and my big gay heart. Inspired by a true story, 80 For Brady, follows four women, each portrayed by a screen legend—Lou (Lily Tomlin), Trish (Jane Fonda), Maura (Rita Moreno), and Betty (Sally Field)—who’ve been close friends for decades. Over the years, they’ve developed a passion for watching football on television, along with a strict superstitious ritual of where they’re sitting and what they’re doing as they support their team, the New England Patriots, and their favorite player, hunky quarterback Tom Brady.

Rita Moreno plays Maura, Jane Fonda plays Trish, Sally Field plays Betty, and Lily Tomlin plays Lou in 80 For Brady. Courtesy of Paramount Pictures.

The movie opens with the 2017 Super Bowl fast approaching and Lou, a cancer survivor determined to make the most of whatever time her and her friends might have left, deciding that they should get themselves to Houston, Texas to attend in person. A bucket list road trip! The only problem is they don’t have any prohibitively priced tickets, or the means to buy them. Screenwriters Sarah Haskins and Emily Halpern (BAFTA-nominated for the wonderful Booksmart) follow the ladies’ adventures in the lead up to the big game as they attempt to take their seats in the stadium. Their adventures include attempting to pass themselves off as members of Lady Gaga’s Half Time Show dance troupe to get past security, which leads to a joyful dance number. It’s choreographed in real life by Ryan Walker Page, and in the movie by Gaga’s own choreographer Gugu, played by Billy Porter, bringing some Black queer joy, plenty of sparkle, and heart to a fun supporting turn. (There’s also a meaningful namecheck for the charity Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, which Porter is a trustee of). One particularly funny sequence sees Lou and Trish stage a retirement home breakout to ensure Maura can join them, trying to outwit Tony, a determined staff member (a hilariously dry Jimmy O. Yang), who insists that those in his care can never be disturbed when sleeping.

Billy Porter plays Gugu, Rita Moreno plays Maura, Jane Fonda plays Trish and Lily Tomlin plays Lou in 80 For Brady. Courtesy of Paramount Pictures.
Jane Fonda as Trish and Jimmy O. Yang as Tony in 80 For Brady. Courtesy of Paramount Pictures.

As you might have guessed from the title and the cast, the women are all octogenarians. Well, apart from Betty who is at pains to remind the other ladies that she’s only in her mid-70s, while Maura hints that she might just have aged out of the category. Regardless of age, these women are all very much living in the present, never solely defined by their advancing years or restricted by them, though it does inform who they are and some of their concerns. Glamorous Trish, who has more wigs in her collection than Schitt’s Creek Moira, is a successful writer of NFL-related steamy “fan fiction” romance novels, but wants to change her own approach to romance (enter Making Love and Clash of the Titans heartthrob Harry Hamlin), while Maura still misses her late husband but is beginning to heal, Betty needs to break some old habits in her marriage, and Lou is determined to live in the moment. Although their backstories are only sketches, each actress brings a lifetime of experience to their characters, imbuing this friendship group with a depth and lived-in quality that makes the film genuinely touching. The comedy is lighthearted and pretty slight at times, but the cast brings a richness and nuance that enhances every moment and the chemistry between them is magical.

Jane Fonda plays Trish, Sally Field plays Betty, Lily Tomlin plays Lou, and Rita Moreno plays Maura in 80 For Brady. Courtesy of Paramount Pictures.
Sally Field as Betty and Lily Tomlin as Lou in 80 For Brady. Courtesy of Paramount Pictures.

There have been buddy comedies aplenty, with men of all ages, but those that centre female friendships, particularly in this age group have been rare, despite The Golden Girls being one of the most popular TV comedies ever and remaining enduring popular (especially with the gays), and box office successes like Calendar Girls, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and its sequel, and Book Club (which has a sequel on the way this year). The entertainment industry tends to view certain hits as exceptional, rather than indicators that there’s an audience out there for these movies, but Tomlin and Fonda have another movie out next month, Moving On, by Grandma writer-director Paul Weitz, and of course they spent seven years working opposite each other on Netflix’s Grace and Frankie. My favoruite scenes on that show were always the two-handers between the title characters, or the ones involving their older friends like Joan-Margaret (played by the wonderful Millicent Martin), but my attention started to drift when the storylines shifted to the younger generation, so 80 For Brady feels like a treat in its focus on these four women throughout. While Tomlin and Fonda’s 9 to 5 co-star Dolly Parton might not be present on screen here, she does make an appearance on the soundtrack in the upbeat original song that plays over the end credits, “Gonna Be You”, written by Diane Warren, which also features Belinda Carlisle, Cyndi Lauper, Gloria Estefan, and Debbie Harry on vocals, echoing the movie’s iconic acting lineup.

Lily Tomlin plays Lou with Producer Tom Brady in 80 For Brady. Courtesy of Paramount Pictures.

In case you were wondering, you don’t need to like—or know anything about—football to be a fan of this film. When the big game does happen, thankfully we spend a lot of it close to the buffet inside the luxury sky box, rather than down on the field, but I suspect the appearances from the players, including Mr Brady himself, will keep football enthusiasts happy. This is a heartwarming, uplifting tonic of a movie, as undemanding as it is delightful. Sometimes girls just wanna have fun, whatever age they might be.

By James Kleinmann

80 For Brady opens in US theaters on Friday, February 3rd, 2023. For screening locations and to purchase tickets head to

Billy Porter on starring in 80 For Brady “the gayest sports movie ever made!” 
80 FOR BRADY | Official Trailer (2023 Movie)
80 FOR BRADY | Gonna Be You | Dolly Parton•Belinda Carlisle•Cyndi Lauper•Gloria Estefan•Debbie Harry

One thought on “Golden Girls Just Wanna Have Fun – Film Review: 80 For Brady ★★★1/2

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  1. Got a question for anybody who can answer it: After they get to the Super Bowl there is a scene with Sally Field is sitting on a bench talking to/resting her head on, etc a cute, younger guy with a little beard growth wearing a powder blue polo shirt and dark blue slacks. They have a conversation. He has dialogue. He seemed really familiar from something else but as far as I can tell he is not credited at the end of the movie or on IMDB, which is really odd! Anybody out there see the movie and recognize him? Thanks!

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