80 for Brady

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Paramount;
Comedy;
Box Office $39.33 million;
$25.99 DVD, $31.99 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for brief strong language, some drug content and some suggestive references.
Stars Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda, Rita Moreno, Sally Field, Tom Brady, Billy Porter, Harry Hamlin, Guy Fieri, Alex Moffat, Rob Corddry, Glynn Turman, Ron Funches, Bob Balaban, Jimmy O. Yang, Matt Lauria, Sara Gilbert, Sally Kirkland, Andy Richter.

On the roster of wackiest sports comedies in cinema history, there have been films about field-goal kicking mules, dogs playing basketball, and angels providing supernatural guidance to baseball teams. So the premise of four old ladies taking a road trip to see Tom Brady play in the Super Bowl would hardly scratch the surface.

80 for Brady chronicles a weekend in the lives of four friends — Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda, Rita Moreno and Sally Field — as they attempt to crash Super Bowl LI in Houston. The game has a special significance to them as they are huge devotees of Tom Brady, having accidentally stumbled upon the game in 2001 in which the Patriots were playing the Jets and Brady had to come in off the bench to take over for an injured Drew Bledsoe. The moment inspired Lou (Tomlin) in her battle against cancer, so the quartet made rooting for Brady a weekly tradition.

After 16 years, however, Lou fears the cancer may have returned, and hits upon the idea of visiting the Super Bowl as one last great adventure. Lou surprises her friends with tickets to the big game she says she won in a radio contest, and the trip is on.

The concept was inspired by a real-life group of Patriots fans called the “Over 80 for Brady” club, with the idea for a film based upon them being pitched by one of their grandsons.

Sports enthusiasts in the audience might recall that Super Bowl LI, played in 2017, was the game in which the Atlanta Falcons held a commanding 28-3 lead before Brady led the Patriots to a comeback win to claim the NFL championship. That’s the backdrop for 80 for Brady, which is essentially the story of Super Bowl LI by way of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, as the ladies find themselves involved in all sorts of mischief during the festivities leading up to the big game, putting themselves in a position to alter the course of sports history.

It’s all an amusing bit of fluff that gives four iconic Hollywood actresses another chance to command the screen and have a lot of fun doing so. The project also let Tomlin and Fonda continue their collaborative streak that began when they started production on “Grace and Frankie” in 2014.

As if feeding off that vibe, there’s a music video on the Blu-ray for the song “Gonna Be You” written by Diane Warren, performed by Tomlin and Fonda’s old 9 to 5 co-star Dolly Parton alongside Belinda Carlisle, Cyndi Lauper, Gloria Estefan and Debbie Harry — a lineup of music legends to parallel the group from the film.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The Blu-ray is loaded with a ton of behind-the-scenes material, starting with the nearly 14-minute “The Game Plan: Making 80 For Brady,” which offers a general look at the production. The nine-minute “The GOATs: Jane, Lily, Rita & Sally” focuses on the main cast, while the seven-minute “The Visiting Team: Meet the Supporting Cast” gives their co-stars a chance to discuss the fun they had making the movie. There’s also a four-minute “80 For Brady: Play-By-Play” roundtable discussion with some of the actresses, hosted by Billy Porter.

On the sports side of things, the six -minute “The Largest Comeback in Super Bowl History” looks at the real-life game at the center of the film.

Rounding out the extras are three deleted and extended scenes totaling about four minutes of material.

Clifford the Big Red Dog

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 2/1/22;
Paramount;
Family;
Box Office $48.59 million;
$25.99 DVD, $31.99 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘PG’ for impolite humor, thematic elements and mild action.
Stars Jack Whitehall, Darby Camp, Tony Hale, Sienna Guillory, David Alan Grier, Russell Wong, Izaac Wang, Kenan Thompson, Tovah Feldshuh, Paul Rodriguez, Russell Peters, Horatio Sanz, Rosie Perez, Alex Moffat, Jessica Keenan Wynn, John Cleese.

Based on the long-running children’s book series of the same name, the Clifford the Big Red Dog movie is a prime example of stretching the source material to fit the feature-length format.

In this case, it’s the adventures of a giant dog and the little girl who owns him.

The plot is a bit like the live-action Dumbo, with a framing device involving John Cleese as a narrator talking about love and magic, which is very reminiscent of Seth MacFarlane’s Ted.

Clifford is a bright red puppy who is left on the streets when the rest of his doggy family is taken to the pound. He gets scooped up by Mr. Bridwell (Cleese, whose character is named for Clifford’s creator, Norman Bridwell) and taken to his traveling exhibit of rescued animals.

Meanwhile, sixth-grader Emily (Darby Camp) is left in the care of her irresponsible uncle (Jack Whitehall, getting some serious exposure between this and Jungle Cruise) when her mother (Sienna Guillory) is called away on business. On the way to school, Emily sees Bridwell’s tent and is enamored with Clifford, who somehow ends up in her backpack.

Since her apartment doesn’t allow pets, she has to take him back the next day, but overnight he grows up to be 10 feet tall, but still as playful as a puppy. And Bridwell, being a mysterious Mary Poppins magical type character, has disappeared.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

While Emily and her pals try to find Bridwell to see if Clifford can be returned to normal, his playful demeanor in public makes the news, attracting the attention of the owner of a biotech firm trying to genetically engineer larger animals for food. So he wants to capture Clifford and study him to see why he’s so big. And the chase is on.

The movie has some fun dealing with some of the obvious issues that would arise with a gigantic dog (like how to give him a medical exam) while sidestepping others (like how much he would  have to eat to stay healthy at that size).

Like the dog at the center of it all, Clifford ends up being some harmless fluff that should keep young viewers entertained.

The Blu-ray of Clifford the Big Red Dog includes four behind-the-scenes featurettes and three deleted scenes.

The deleted scenes run nearly three minutes total and don’t amount to much more than a few additional moments of humor.

The six-and-a-half-minute “Part of the Pack” is a general making-of featurette, featuring interviews from the cast and filmmakers. The three-and-a-half-minute “Acting Is for the Dogs” focuses on the visual effects used to bring Clifford to life, particularly the puppeteers who provided a live reference model on set.

The seven-minute “The Magic of Bridwell” featurette focuses more on the original “Clifford” children books and how they were conceived of by creator Norman Bridwell, who appears via archive interviews (sadly, he died in 2014).

Finally, there’s the two-and-a-half-minute “Tips & Tricks for Taking Care of a 10-Foot Dog” is a tongue-in-cheek piece that is pretty much exactly what the title makes it sound like.

Originally published as a digital review Dec. 20, 2021.

The Opening Act

BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Street Date 12/15/20;
RLJE Films;
Comedy;
$27.97 DVD, $28.96 Blu-ray;
Not rated.
Stars Jimmy O. Yang, Alex Moffat, Cedric the Entertainment, Neal Brennan, Debby Ryan, Ken Jeong, Bill Burr, Jermaine Fowler, Russell Peters, Whitney Cummings, Tom Segura, Iliza Shlesinger.

Fans of stand-up comedy should get a kick out of The Opening Act, the story of a young man at the crossroads of whether or not his life’s ambition is worth the pursuit. The cast of The Opening Act features a who’s who of the stand-up world, and only a few are actually playing the comedians.

Written and directed by stand-up comedian Steve Byrne (“Sullivan & Son”), and based in part on his own experiences starting out in stand-up, The Opening Act stars Jimmy O. Yang (“Silicon Valley”) as Will Chu, a claims adjuster who aspires to be a comic because growing up he bonded with his late father watching stand-up comedy together.

Follow us on Instagram

Struggling just to get enough stage time with local open mic nights, Will gets the opportunity of a lifetime when a friend recommends him for a weekend MC gig for the Pittsburgh Improv. The headliner is Billy G (Cedric the Entertainer), who Will idolized growing up.

However, one awkward encounter after another leaves Will questioning if he has what it takes to make it in comedy. The feature comedian, Chris (Alex Moffat of “Saturday Night Live”) constantly wants Will to party, throwing off his concentration. A disastrous promotional appearance on a local radio show puts him on the radar for hecklers, throwing off his game as he tries out new material that just doesn’t land.

He seems more like he’s trying to go through the motions of what he thinks a stand-up comedian should do, without understanding what it takes to connect with the audience, until Billy G takes some pity on him, reminds him that every comedian has to learn to bomb hard, and gives him some advice that might help him turn things around.

All in all, the message of perseverance should resonate with all viewers.

The Blu-ray includes a six-minute making-of featurette, a three-minute featurette in which the cast members discuss the difficulties of getting started in comedy, and 11 minutes of footage of extended stand-up performances from the likes of Yang, Cedric, Whitney Cummings, Ken Jeong and more.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!