A mainstream Hollywood movie with four female leads all nearly 80 and up? That’s some of the most radical casting in commercial moviemaking. And it should be something to celebrate, especially when those leads are trailblazers Rita Moreno, Sally Field, Lily Tomlin, and Jane Fonda, inarguably brilliant women who have devoted their lives to militantly upending the status quo and breaking boundaries. So it’s infuriating to see them in the service of the abysmal 80 for Brady.
The Paramount feature directed by Kyle Marvin markets itself as a paean to female friendship, with a side of sassy senior attitude: four longtime gal pals fulfill a lifelong dream and take a shenanigans-filled trip to the 2017 Super Bowl. What it really is, however, is a 90-ish-minute ad for the NFL. Only in this NFL, there’s no racism, cheating, steroids, homophobia, or sexism—nothing but clean-cut boys who behave like Boy Scouts and look like Atlas, all packaged in a miasma of red, white, and blue (confetti, balloons, flags, costuming, lighting) that implicitly calls into question the patriotism of anyone who declines to cheer along. Brady gleams like a golden god throughout, coaching the women through crises of the body, mind, and spirit until they are called on in the final downs to return the favor. The writing is lazy as the plot spins through a laundry list of issues: cancer scare, infantile spouse, bad love affair, grief—all are resolved, all thanks to football metaphor. The focus is so soft the women’s faces look like masks. Not even a (criminally underproduced) Billy Porter musical number can fix this nonsense. PG-13, 98 min.