Whilst a movie like Poms won’t be gunning for an award season prominence, and the saturation of cliches and predictability that litter the film only add to its simplistic mentality, there’s no denying that its got spirit (yes it does!) and a heart in the right place.
In a role that she can do in her sleep at this point, Diane Keaton stars as Martha, a seemingly lonely senior citizen who’s moving into a brochure-perfect retirement home in Georgia; writer/director Zara Hayes almost battering us over the head with how set-in-the-South the film will be, introducing us to a trio of “friendly” retirement community queens (headed by the wonderfully condescending Celia Weston) who are the epitome of Southern hospitality.
Given the breed of retirees setting up shop around her we understand Martha’s desire to be left alone. That would all be well and good if she wasn’t shacked next to Sheryl (a wonderfully animated Jacki Weaver, practically the sole reason to see this film), a sexually over-active socialite (of sorts) who essentially inserts herself into Martha’s life.
As we await the film’s title to start making sense of itself – it is not referring to the simplistic term to describe people of British heritage – Sheryl uncovers an old cheerleading outfit of Martha’s and, after making a suitably lewd suggestion as to why she wants to borrow it, she’s convinced our lone wolf to dust off the dance moves and form a cheerleading troupe of her own. Let the age-appropriate shenanigans begin!
We’re unsurprised when the aforementioned community queens veto this idea, but Poms won’t have any of that adversity to keep these elders down and Hayes’ film very much follows suit as we’d expect in its want to celebrate these older women in spite of their physical ailments; next to Keaton and Weaver, Rhea Perlman, Pam Grier, Carol Sutton, Patricia Fench, Phyllis Somerville and an enviably flexible Ginny MacColl fill out the roll call of the cheerleaders-in-waiting.
The situational humour that is presented throughout is particularly safe and, apart from Keaton and Weaver, the other cast members feel defined by these moments more so than what they are able to create with rather one-note archetypes; although, even Keaton’s character suffers a little from this when the film introduces a subplot regarding her illness, a story strand that feels more emotionally manipulative than organic.
As critical as I am being on Poms though, I can’t deny at how infectious it ultimately is. It’s incredibly lively, consistently funny (even if it’s not smart humour per se) and, emotionally manipulative or not, it knows how to jerk a tear or two.
A safe comedy that’ll play successfully to an older, less jaded crowd, Poms may not execute the grandest routine but working with what it has at its disposal, it sticks its landing with an unmatched enthusiasm.
POMS is a comedy about a group of women who form a cheerleading squad at their retirement community, proving that you’re never too old to ‘bring it!’
Poms (PG) is screening in Australian theatres from May 9th 2019.