‘Poms’ Review — 2-4-6-8! This Movie Ain’t So Great!

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Poms Review

There’s no getting around it. Getting old sucks. For women, though, it’s worse as they’re expected to just fade away into a life of quaint domesticity, passing the days sewing accompanied only by cats. There may be no place where aging women are treated worse than Hollywood, where starlets of certain age are just outcast outright with maybe the opportunity to play as sassy grandma while male stars of the same age are given roles that place them in wildly age-inappropriate romances. Knowing this, it’s not hard to see the appeal of Poms, the comedy from director Zara Hayes about a troupe of older cheerleaders. While Poms may have been made with the best of intentions, good intentions don’t make a good film. Poms is a lazy, indifferent work of comedy filmmaking that often looks for laughs in the very ageist tropes it is aiming to subvert.

Martha (Diane Keaton) is staring at the grim specter of her own mortality. Diagnosed with cancer, she’s opted to forego treatment, sell her belongings, leave her apartment of 46 years, and move to a retirement community called Sun Springs. Wearing jeans and earth tones, Martha is pretty much a cynical hipster old lady ready to die in seclusion (the film is sure to emphasize that she’s had no children, of course). The head of Sun Springs’ homeowners association Vicki (Celia Watson) doesn’t take too kindly to Martha’s arrival, especially when Martha remarks that she “just came here to die.” Even in this setup you get the sense that Poms is truly aimless in its humor as it tries to find jokes in the most mundane observations about elderly living.

Next door to Martha is Sheryl (Jacki Weaver), a kitsch loving grandmother who proclaims herself good at two things: “poker and poking.” Despite Weaver’s mightily spirited performance, the entire purpose of her character is to be the older woman who talks bluntly about sex which is supposedly funny because old people don’t talk about such ribald acts. After a bit of resistance from Martha, eventually Sheryl and Martha become friends and form a bond over their past youthful cheerleading exploits. Because of a ridiculous rule at Sun Springs that forces residents to join a club or form a club of their own, Martha and Sheryl create a cheerleading club with the hopes of performing at the annual senior showcase. After a few auditions, they’re joined by Olive (Pam Grier), Alice (Rhea Perlman), Phyllis (Patricia French), Evelyn (Ginny Cole), Ruby (Carol Sutton), and Helen (Phyllis Somerville).

If you’re looking for any kind of description about these supporting characters, don’t worry as the film has no interest in providing any of them with the least bit of depth. We get a glimpse of Olive’s husband, some unpleasant interactions with Helen’s son, and are witness to one of the film’s few comically effective moments with the death of Alice’s husband. However, these details are so surface oriented they could easily be buffed out by hand.

The comedy of Poms as written by Shane Atkinson (from a story by Zara Hayes) is just as flimsy as its characters. The entire premise of the film is basically someone proclaiming rather loudly, “Old people can’t do that!” That’s the extent of the jokes. Physical ailments and limitations are meant to get laughs. Older women bluntly discussing sexual acts (in PG-13 terms) is meant to get laughs. Jokes rooted in character or situation, though, are practically non-existent. I’ll say this, for retirees who see maybe five movies a year and love reruns of Two and a Half Men, there might just be enough uninspired comedy for them to get their money’s worth. The most shocking thing about Poms is that none of these women have given the role of rappin’ granny. After all, old people can’t do that!

Around the halfway point, Poms takes a rather unusual detour. The elderly cheerleading team attempts to practice at a high school pep rally. Their arrival is met with disdain by the teenage cheerleaders, and the older women are mocked by the young, sexy, and cocky Chloe (Alisha Bow), whom Sheryl’s nerdy grandson Ben (Charlie Tahan) has a crush on. Their performance goes awry and the film lingers on the youthful faces laughing at the mishaps of the older cheerleaders. It makes absolutely no sense as the film has been inviting the audience to laugh at the mishaps of these older cheerleaders since the film started. If the laughter of the teenage characters is cruel, isn’t the same true of the film’s audience? It’s a question the film isn’t capable of answering let alone even anticipating, and it’s a big reason why Poms frequently trips over its own feet. Making matters worse, the film then has the video of their disastrous performance go viral, a recent storytelling phenomenon that simply reeks of laziness.

There’s nothing empowering about Poms. There’s barely anything funny within Poms. The best thing about Poms, aside from Jacki Weaver’s enthusiastic performance, is that runs a merciful 90 minutes. Women past a certain age are often invisible to Hollywood, and Poms was intended to eschew that disgraceful practice. Even when standing right there in front of them, the makers of Poms still managed to make these older women invisible. That’s nothing worth cheering about.

Poms
  • Overall Score
1.5

Summary

A lazy, uninspired comedy about elderly cheerleaders, Poms wastes a strong cast with paper-thin characters, predictable plotting, and such a condescending take on aging it’s genuinely surprising that nobody was tasked with being the rappin’ granny.

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