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  • Writer's pictureBen Pivoz


Updated: Jul 12, 2021

Alice (Rhea Perlman), Phyllis (Patricia French), Martha (Diane Keaton), Olive (Pam Grier), Sheryl (Jacki Weaver), Helen (Phyllis Somerville) and Evelyn (Ginny MacColl) prepare to cheer in Poms (Distributed by STX Entertainment)

There are very few wide releases starring women over the age of sixty. It is such an uncommon event that I get legitimately irritated when, on the rare occasion one does get made, it wastes the abilities of its stars. That is the precisely the case with the comedy Poms. It features Diane Keaton, Jacki Weaver, Pam Grier, Rhea Perlman and Celia Weston, all enjoyable actors. It sticks them in a derivative, extremely contrived story, which is not very funny or particularly fun to watch. It feels like everyone had a great time making it, but that enthusiasm does not translate to the screen. While this is clearly intended to be a crowd-pleaser, I could not help to think its cast deserves much better.

Keaton’s Martha, unmarried with no children, decides to move to a retirement community to live out her remaining years. Her new next door neighbor is Weaver’s Sheryl, a free-spirit who just wants to live life while she still can. Together with some of the other female residents, they start a cheerleading club. The usual goofy shenanigans and emotional revelations abound.

Watching Poms (87 minutes, minus the end credits) is a weird experience. The main cast is full of skilled professionals able to get laughs even out of this weak material, yet the movie keeps getting in their way. I am not talking about the plot or dialogue, but the filmmaking itself. It gives them no room to breathe. The editing is especially off. Punchlines are stepped on regularly. There are far too many instances where a joke barely gets the chance to register before the movie cuts away to another line or an entirely different scene.

Martha is welcomed by Vicki (Celia Weston)

The audition montage, generally a highlight in this type of story, is a big mess. We only get a few seconds to figure out what each dancer is doing before the movie cuts to a reaction shot of Keaton and Weaver watching them. Then we go back to the dancer for a couple of seconds before cutting to another reaction shot. It was completely distracting. It is like Poms had to keep telling its audience how it was supposed to feel. That happens a lot and it really gives off a strangely amateurish vibe.

This is a production valuable for what it is as opposed to what it does. It is an opportunity for a group of people who usually do not get to be showcased to have their own spotlight. They get to be the stars instead of backup to younger actors (there are two important teenage characters, but they get to be the support this time). Unfortunately, that is all Poms has going for it. Keaton, Weaver, Grier and Perlman are likable as some of the cheerleaders and Weston (as their antagonist) and Bruce McGill (as the friendly head of security) get a couple of decent jokes. The movie, as jumbled as it is, is unworthy of them. I am not asking for anything deep or profound. Just a silly comedy that allows its talented cast to do their thing and produces more than the stray laugh. Sadly, this is not it.

1½ out of 5


Diane Keaton as Martha

Jacki Weaver as Sheryl

Alisha Boe as Chloe

Charlie Tahan as Ben

Celia Weston as Vicki

Pam Grier as Olive

Rhea Perlman as Alice

Phyllis Somerville as Helen

Bruce McGill as Chief Carl

Directed by Zara Hayes

Written by Shane Atkinson


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