Poms is directed by Zara Hayes. It stars Diane Keaton, Jacki Weaver, Pam Grier, Celia Weston, Alisha Boe, Phyllis Somerville, Charlie Tahan, Bruce McGill, and Rhea Perlman.
Martha is an older woman suffering from cancer, who never had children or got to pursue her dreams of cheerleading as a young girl. She chooses to live out her latter days in a retirement community, where a bubbly and eccentric new neighbor persuades her it’s never too late to pursue her dream. But will a group of an old women be able to succeed as cheerleaders, despite oppression from the community, family and friends, and health issues?
Let me start by saying I adore Diane Keaton; this woman is an amazing actress who’s been in countless films. Her role in any movie is a highlight, even if the movie itself is lackluster. Unfortunately, even Keaton can’t save Poms, which is a drab, dull comedy which finds its inspiration in far better films which tackle the subject matter in a superior fashion. Everyone in the movie just looks bored. The filmmakers couldn’t decide if they wanted to make a sweet and touching comedy-drama or a raunchy take-no-prisoners one, so we get an uneven compromise of both approaches, neither one of which works here. Did I mention the cinematography is really, really bad?
There are moments throughout Poms which hint at a better movie, but the filmmakers just didn’t have the guts to go for it. Had this been made as a raunchy, R-rated comedy with no limits on what the women in the movie were willing to do to pursue their dreams, odds are I’d be writing a better review. Instead, the end result is an extremely tame PG-13 movie which isn’t willing to take chances, and reeks of its derivative nature throughout. It’s predictable, and you’ll see every gag coming before it arrives.
Everyone in Poms looks bored. Most of the women are one-joke characters. And why did they try out for this club if most of them have health issues which impede them from doing anything? There’s the occasional one-liner and chance for them to shine, but it’s so few and far between. It doesn’t help that the movie tries to shoe-horn in side stories involving the retirement community’s security staff, the grandson of one of the women, bitchy teen cheerleaders who make an embarrassing performance by the troupe of seniors a viral internet sensation, and stuck-up women in charge of planning and clubs. The movie’s only 90 minutes long, and we simply don’t have time for most of these elements, which shows in the final product. With about 2/3 of the extra elements cut, an R-rated approach, and more time spent on the women themselves, this would’ve been a far better movie.
Cancer is a serious disease, but here it’s basically treated like a subplot. Why does Martha refuse to fight it? Essentially, it’s just “put on the side” for an all-too-convenient tearjerker late in the film (and if you don’t know what’s coming, you’ve never watched a movie before). Essentially, the movie didn’t even need this plot element.
A big problem which rears its head throughout the movie as well is the cluttered cinematography. Heads and feet are regularly cut off in shots from beginning to end. I don’t know if this was the result of an incompetent cinematographer, or the film is being shown in an unintentionally wrong aspect ratio. Whatever the excuse here, for this reason alone the movie should never have been released.
Poms has occasional good moments, but they only hint at what could have been a better movie. As such, the end result is derivative, boring, predictable, and poorly shot. Skip it.
Rating: One star out of four.
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