When New Yorker Martha (Diane Keaton) decides to cancel all her chemo appointments and move to the retirement community of Sun Springs, Georgia, little does she know that life awaits her.
Written by Shane Atkinson with a story by Zara Hayes (Hayes also directs), Poms really tries to be a feel-good comedy about living the latter years of life with vim and vigor. Unfortunately, even though there are some really touching moments, the film fails to develop its characters in a way that helps us to care about them.
Arriving in Sun Springs, Martha, pretty much a loner, scoffs at the peppy, overly-smiley seniors seen zipping around in golf carts or power walking in same-colored sweatshirts. She’s told by Vicki (Celia Weston), keeper of the rules, that she’s required to join at least one club or start her own.
Just wanting to slink away into her home, she’s forced to interact with her neighbor, the garishly dressed, hostess of loud parties, Sheryl (Jackie Weaver). One evening, Sheryl worms her way into Martha’s house to discover Martha’s old cheerleading outfit from high school. Even though Martha made the squad in senior year, she never got to shout from the sidelines.
Deciding to start their own cheerleading club, Martha and Sheryl hold tryouts and barely enough ladies sign up to qualify for an official club, but they sure didn’t qualify to be cheerleaders. Despite this, the club practices and gets an opportunity to strut their stuff at a local high school basketball game. A video of their embarrassing performance goes viral and they need to regroup.
Rhea Perlman, Diane Keaton, Jackie Weaver, PhyllisSomerville and the cast of "Poms" (STX Entertainment)
When one of the high school’s cheer squad captains, Chloe (Alicia Boe, 13 Reasons Why), discovers that her mates have posted the video online, she’s so upset that she chooses to quit the squad to coach for the senior ladies. There’s some romantic tension between Chloe and Ben (Charlie Tahan), Sheryl’s grandson secretly rooming her in the 55-and-up community who’s in charge of their music.
With the star power of Diane Keaton, Rhea Perlman, and Jackie Weaver one would hope that the script be worthy of such talent. Alas, “Poms” falls short. The only backstory we get on Martha is that she was a cheerleading wannabe in high school and a teacher as an adult. We know almost nothing about the rest of the characters except some of them seem to have relationships with very controlling people. The cheering squad is their chance to have friends and be themselves.
Despite the film’s shortcomings (which include an exchange between one of the high schoolers and Sheryl: “Break a hip!” “Get pregnant!”), it does have its comedic moments like when Carl (Bruce McGill), Sun Springs’s security guard, hastens about in his golf cart doing Vicki’s bidding. One moving scene has all the ladies looking into the mirror to identify what they like about themselves. Try that yourself. It isn’t always an easy thing to do.
Making a movie about seniors who are self-confident and connected with each other and the younger generation in a meaningful way is a noble goal. Unfortunately, “Poms” doesn’t make the cut.