What’s With These Awful Plots for Octogenarian Actors?

What’s With These Awful Plots for Octogenarian Actors?

For some strange reason known only to the movers and shakers of the movie industry, 2023 is shaping up to be a big year for films about old people doing young people things.

In the upcoming comedy 80 for Brady, Hollywood legends Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Rita Moreno and Sally Field star as a group of elderly women who want to bang Tom Brady, and who travel to Houston in order to watch him play in Super Bowl LI. That’s seriously the entire plot. The iconic quarterback produced and starred in the film that celebrates his mythical comeback against the Atlanta Falcons by having a bunch of older actresses shoot him “do me” eyes.

There’s also the upcoming film, iMordecai, starring Judd Hirsch as an old Holocaust survivor who… gets an iPhone. Sean Astin plays Hirsch’s son, who buys him said iPhone. Thrilling stuff. 

We’ll never turn our noses up at these legendary artists getting work — but why in the world are we making them play out the tired “out-of-touch old person engages with modern culture” story again and again?

In the case of 80 for Brady, the film seems to be set up like any other buddy vacation comedy, just with the added layer of horny old ladies thirsting after NFL players. iMordecai, on the other hand, looks to put the dissonance between an old, out-of-touch immigrant and a modern culture he doesn’t understand in the center stage. The plot of 80 for Brady seems to work independently of the characters’ ages (despite the title), but in iMordecai, Hirsch’s age is the story. 

Both films appear to be empathetic toward their aged characters, but I wonder if the set-ups rely too heavily on using the actors’ advanced age in a slightly undignified juxtaposition to the worlds they inhabit. It’s not at all unusual in comedy to have an “old person who wants to do young person things” character — Pierce Hawthorne in Community was the epitome of the trope — but having multiple movies in such a short timespan tread that tired path makes it feel worn out.

Then again, if it was an 85-year-old Jane Fonda’s dream to play an NFL erotica writer who fondles Rob Gronkowski’s pecs, it’s only fair that Hollywood create an entire movie for her just to make it happen.

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