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.

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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.

Bumblebee

 BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 4/2/19;
Paramount;
Sci-Fi;
Box Office $127.2 million;
$29.99 DVD, $31.99 Blu-ray, $34.99. UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for sequences of sci-fi action violence.
Stars Hailee Steinfeld, John Cena, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., John Ortiz, Jason Drucker, Pamela Adlon, Stephen Schneider, Glynn Turman, Len Cariou. Voices of Dylan O’Brien, Angela Bassett, Justin Theroux, Peter Cullen.

It’s hard to deny that the five live-action “Transformers” films have just about worn out their welcome even among the most avid fans of the franchise and toy line on which it’s based. With the movies for the most part having devolved into spectacles of mind-numbing action, incomprehensible plotting, unrecognizable characters and a jumble of references to the iconic “Transformers” lore established in the old cartoons and comic books, it was clear a change in direction was in order.

Bumblebee, directed by stop-motion animation veteran Travis Knight, is just the creative spark the franchise needed to re-connect with the audience, returning to the basics of the brand’s premise without over-complicating the story with an abundance of jokey characters and a fetish for the military industrial complex.

As the sixth live-action “Transformers” film, Bumblebee could be seen as either a prequel to the other five, or as a reboot, depending on what direction producers decide to take it in the future. There are obvious references to the other films embedded throughout, so if further movies didn’t materialize then it plays pretty well as a prequel, with some mental gymnastics employed to explain away moments where the story seems to completely ignore what has been established in the earlier films.

It’s somewhat evident that an earlier iteration of the movie was meant to more closely align with Bay’s world, particularly since a comic book prelude released before the film depicts Bumblebee working with the British secret service in the 1960s, playing off his involvement in World War II in the fifth film. Bumblebee, on the other hand, shows him landing on Earth in 1987, which isn’t necessarily inconsistent, but raises a few questions. An alternate opening sequence — included among the Blu-ray’s 19 minutes of deleted scenes — is a bit more vague about Bumblebee’s arrival on Earth.

So, in the same vein as X-Men: First Class, it wouldn’t be surprising if future sequels didn’t bother connecting to the existing continuity, though, recently one of the film’s producers indicated future installments would lean more toward the Bay continuity after all.

Bumblebee plays like a throwback to a 1980s Steven Spielberg movie, while the story is somewhat of a gender-swapped version of the set-up to the 2007 film, in which Shia LeBeouf came across Bumblebee in a used-car lot.

Fleeing from the Decepticon conquest of his home planet of Cybertron, Bumblebee crashes on Earth and loses his memory. Having taken on the disguise of a 1960s Volkswagen Beetle, he is discovered in a junkyard by Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld), a mechanically inclined rebellious teenager looking for meaning in her life following the sudden death of her father. She repairs Bumblebee and learns that he’s an alien robot with the ability to transform into a car. And he’s being pursued by the U.S. military and Decepticon bounty hunters. With Charlie’s help, Bumblebee starts to regain his identity enough to remember the mission given to him by Autobot leader Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen) to protect Earth from the Decepticons so the Autobots can use it as a base to regroup.

The film comes to life with seamless visual effects that look great on Blu-ray, and a soundtrack peppered with some of the top hits of the 1980s.

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The girl and her living car angle might also bring to mind Herbie: Fully Loaded, which itself was an attempt to freshen up a shopworn franchise. For the most part, though, Bumblebee offers up a good chunk of the kind of “Transformers” fun that fans have been waiting to see since the 1980s, particularly the battles on Cybertron.

The Blu-ray also comes with a mini-comic featuring Bumblebee’s next adventure, in which he tussles with another Decepticon who has come looking for him. One of the extras on the disc is a motion comic containing this story with an extended ending that more explicitly ties Bumblebee to the events of the first Bay movie.

The disc also contains 10 minutes of outtakes, a four-minute profile of various “Transformers” characters with their “Generation One”-inspired designs, and 47 minutes of decent behind-the-scenes featurettes.