Directed by: Zara Hayes
Premise: A group of women living in a retirement community form a cheerleading squad. They recruit a high school student to prepare them for a competition.
What Works: In the last couple of decades, Diane Keaton has made a late career niche for herself in movies about women adjusting to late middle age as seen in And So It Goes and Something’s Gotta Give and Because I Said So. Whatever else is to be said about these films, they are generally made for a very specific audience and Poms ought to satisfy its intended viewers. It’s a nice movie and well-intended. Keaton plays a recent retiree who relocates to a retirement community. She isn’t ready to give up on her life and she networks with a group of like-minded ladies to form an intramural cheerleading squad. Although there are plenty of jokes about being old, Poms never feels like it’s ridiculing these women and the film demonstrates an understanding of the way society condescends to the elderly and robs them of agency.
What Doesn’t: Poms is lightweight to a fault. The movie is not intended to be a hard look at aging but the average television sitcom episode has more drama that this film. There is nothing challenging or interesting or insightful about it. Even at ninety-one minutes Poms is really padded and the conflicts and subplots are overextended. These women defy social expectations to participate in a young person’s activity but very little is actually done with that. The sight of septuagenarians cheerleading has some inherent humor to it and the filmmakers burn through most of the comic potential in the first cheering scene. Poms has the requisite old bones jokes but it is all very obvious. There’s no creativity to that humor and the filmmakers don’t try very hard. Poms just isn’t very funny. It may generate a couple of laughs but comedy requires filmmakers to push into the absurd and Poms takes no risks. The moviemakers could find humor in the particulars of life in a retirement community but Poms squanders the opportunity afforded by the setting. Beyond the comedy, the appeal of a movie like this is in the characters and the camaraderie between them. Almost none of the characters have any depth. Diane Keaton’s character befriends a neighbor played by Jacki Weaver and the two of them get a little bit of development but even basic questions are left unexplored. Keaton’s character has cancer but she is refusing treatment; we never find out why. Weaver’s character shelters her grandson because his parents are unfit guardians but nothing else is said about that. The rest of the cheerleading squad is barely characterized at all. And so Poms is a bunch of nondescript characters in a vague and uninteresting situation.
Bottom Line: Viewers who enjoyed movies like Book Club will like Poms as well. But this is not a good movie but any measure. For a story that is supposedly about holding onto a zest for life, Poms is flat and inert.
Episode: #751 (June 2, 2019)