Poms (2019) reviewed by Jonathan Berk

Poms (2019) follows Martha (Diane Keaton) as she leaves her longtime apartment in New York to a retirement community in sunny Florida. Martha has lived a primarily quiet life keeping mostly to herself, but this new community refuses to let her wither and die alone. Martha’s new neighbor Sheryl (Jacki Weaver) literally pushes herself into Martha’s life, but her kindness and charm slowly wear her down. The big struggle that Martha finds in the new community is Vicki (Celia Weston) who is ultimately in charge of the community and the rules laid down by her. Everyone must join a club or create one, which leads Martha to form a club to pursue a missed childhood dream; being a cheerleader.

Poms isn’t as funny as I’d expected, but there is something endearing about it

So, at this point, you’re probably thinking that a movie about older women starting a cheerleading squad isn’t something you’d ever sat sipping a coffee longing to see. I can’t argue against that. The premise is an odd one and, in truth, kind of not the point of the movie. This is listed as a straight comedy, but it really invokes many dramatic elements that make the film endearing. Themes of friendship, impending death, loneliness, “girl power”, and it’s never too late make this film far more enjoyable than most of the humor.

It’s not to say the film is unfunny, but I found it to be much more charming and sweet than I did funny. Weaver is by far my favorite performance in the movie followed by the two teenagers, played by Charlie Tahan and Alisha Boe, who end up assisting with the elderly cheerleaders. The ensemble has some standouts with Rhea Perlman being the biggest of those. Perlman’s character is definitely counter to her usual persona, or at least the one I am familiar with, being initially quiet and submissive. Her character really pushes the idea of “girl power” into dark areas, but I think paints a dark picture of the reality of many women that is comedically remedied.

Pam Grier, Phyllis Somerville, Patricia French, Ginny MacColl, and Carol Sutton finish off the rest of the squad. Most of them get a little character moment that makes the audience like them and feels for their individual situations. Though the strongest scene with them all comes after a few setbacks, Martha has them all stand in front of the mirror. She demands they all say something they like about themselves. The scene is emotional and inspirational in ways as we watch these women struggle to find one thing to say, but with prodding and encouragement embrace the moment.

Final thoughts…

Poms was a very enjoyable film with a little bit to say and a few solid laughs. There were some strong performances from Weaver and less so from Keaton, but their friendship formed over the course of the film won me over. I truly believed the relationship they built and the fact that it was a friendship and not a romance made it all the more important. Not all love has to be sexual to be important. Poms earns a Decent Watch rating.

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