Friday night’s Palm Springs International Film Festival kicked off its opening night with the world premiere of “80 for Brady,” Kyle Marvin’s life-affirming comedy about four best friends — played by Rita Moreno, Sally Field, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin — whose love for the legendary, seven-time Super Bowl Champion quarterback cuts so deep, they embark on a quest to Houston to see the New England Patriots play the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl 51. That game resulted in the Pats digging themselves out from a 25-point hole and winning the title in overtime, a feat considered one of the greatest comeback victories in the history of the NFL.
The audience gathered at Palm Springs High School for the screening was tickled silly by the film, based on a real-life story, with laughter and applause echoing throughout the theater, most notably in scenes spotlighting cameos by Pats’ heroes: former tight end Rob “Gronk” Gronkowski; retired wide receiver Julian Edelman; former wide receiver Danny Amendola; and Brady himself, who produced the film through his 2020–launched 199 Productions, a nod to Brady’s selection number in the 2000 NFL draft.
When Turner Classic Movies host and Entertainment Weekly awards correspondent Dave Karger, who moderated the post-screening Q&A, which also included “80 For Brady” star Harry Hamlin, asked Fonda if Gronk, a sports icon whose physique recalls that of a Greek god, was “a natural actor,” the two-time Oscar winner answered with signature deadpan humor: “Who cares?”
The audience erupted into raucous laughter and applause. Because, and especially in a world so fractured by trauma and tragedy, who doesn’t want to watch a feel-good comedy about friendship and football featuring a roster of Adonis-like NFL players? Who doesn’t want to watch four vaunted American stars — with a collective 12 Oscar nominations and five wins between them — gushing about said football stars?
“Tom Brady, I think he went into all of our trailers individually,” Fonda continued. “And when he walked into my trailer at the end, my knees gave way. I had to hold onto something. I mean, he is gorgeous. He is so gorgeous.”
Field, a self-professed sports buff waxed nostalgic about raising three sons and their collective passion for football, basketball and baseball. “They should rename Dodgers Stadium Sally Field,” joked Marvin on stage. Field said that when the superstar athletes arrived on set, “I was the one out there welcoming everybody.”
“There was no one else,” joked Tomlin. “No PAs out there, just Sally.”
“I was out there, ‘Hi, guys! I’m so glad you’re here!” Field continued. “I wanted them to feel comfortable. I was a fan and I was out there welcoming them.”
“Tom was so gracious when he first came on the set to buy lunch. It was the first time he went to each of our trailers, which were our dressing rooms, and he introduced himself as though we didn’t know who he was,” said Fonda. “But again, a true gentleman. He was gracious. And I had one of those huge football sweatshirts waiting for him because my nephew is an enormous fan, and he was so gracious. And [Tom] wrote on it for him, and my nephew now has that on the wall in a frame. [Tom] just has very good manners like that.”
Fonda, Tomlin, Field and Moreno chatted about everything from the aging process to neck problems to sports stats after the screening. To wit, Karger mentioned the dance scenes in the film, asking “Who needed the most help with choreography?”
None of the women missed a beat.
“Whenever I would think, ‘I can’t do it,’ well, Rita could do it,” said Fonda before gesturing to Moreno: “You’re just amazing!”
Moreno, who famously won the Academy Award for her star turn as Anita in the 1962 musical “West Side Story,” threw up her hands in mock exasperation. “Oh God, what a burden,” she exclaimed. “I’m 92!”
She then got up and danced around the stage, and the audience again burst out into applause. Poking fun at herself whilst twirling around, she said “I can’t do it because I’ve got terrible knees.” She then gestured back at Fonda.
“I’ve never laughed so hard as when I saw [Jane] bounce around [during rehearsals]. You remember?” Moreno said. “And that’s when I said, she’s gonna steal this fucking movie.”