Martha (Diane Keaton), a stoic introvert, moves to a retirement community. The new living arrangements are filled with an array of clubs and activities at her disposal. Not intrigued by any of them, her new friend Sheryl (Jacki Weaver) suggests that she start a cheerleading squad for her peers. While setting up the squad, they run into some snafus that may or may not hinder their efforts. Written and directed by Zara Hayes, Poms is a reminder that it’s okay to follow your dreams at any age, and with any obstacles at hand. (SAT: 4.5/5)
Review by FF2 Media Senior Contributor Stephanie A. Taylor
Keaton is a dream in this film in the role of the introverted Martha. When Martha at her new retirement community, vivacious Sheryl (Jacki Weaver) is one of the first people she meets. She takes a while to warm up to Sheryl, but they become fast friends. At Martha’s request, Sheryl helps organize a cheerleading squad. There are some bumps in the road, especially when Sheryl is asked to find a rehearsal location. They wind up at a high school pep rally where their first performance – which is humiliating – goes viral. But despite despair and embarrassment, they continue to trudge forward with the help of a high school cheerleader named Chloe (Alisha Boe).
Although Keaton’s role is immensely convincing, the part of Sheryl is certainly not contrived. And Weaver’s witty and lighthearted portrayal of Sheryl added depth to what could have been a one-dimensional character. I also admire the vulnerability that Keaton added to what seems to be a reclusive and numb role.
There are some memorable and amusing moments. One of my very favorites is when a younger cheerleader tells the seniors to “break a hip.” Sheryl retorts, “get pregnant.” Or the raunchy yet funny quip Sheryl gives Martha when they first meet. “I was hoping you’d be a man. There’s not enough erections around here as it is.” And, the very touching scene where Chloe says to the squad that it feels like she now has eight grandmothers (despite never having known her own).
The film is a well-balanced mixture of emotions. There are some hilarious moments, but there are also some poignant ones. In one scene Martha explains that in her younger days she always wanted to become a cheerleader, but once she was finally on the team she had to quit because her mom was sick. Or, when she’s in the hospital and tells Sheryl some bad news, as Sheryl lies in bed with her for a visit.
The chemistry seems very genuine between Keaton and Weaver. And add Pam Grier who effortlessly plays the bubbly role of aerobics instructor Olive. All of these ladies performed beautifully on the screen, and there is much that viewers of all ages can certainly take from Poms. All these roles for actresses over 50 is noticeable and much appreciated.
Q: Does Poms pass the Bechdel-Wallace test?
There are a great many conversations in Poms that have absolutely nothing to do with men.