Classically Cliched: Our Review of ‘POMS’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - May 10, 2019
Classically Cliched: Our Review of ‘POMS’

Age ain’t nothing but a number, as long as you are young at heart…

POMS is hardly a perfect film but it’s a pleasant little comedic diversion as it runs through a lot of the expected cinematic clichés and it does enough to at the very least make audiences smile.

Martha (Diane Keaton) moves into a retirement community and starts a cheerleading squad with her fellow residents, Sheryl (Jacki Weaver), Olive (Pam Grier) and Alice (Rhea Perlman), proving that it’s never too late to follow your dreams.

It’s paint by numbers comedy to be certain, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing as POMS is a safe cinematic effort that plays through some expected beats but allows some very talented comedic talents to cut loose and have a little fun in a way that ladies of a certain age just don’t always get in Hollywood.

Writer/Director Zara Hayes comes off a quiet and solid career as a documentary filmmaker but here in her feature debut she crafts a basic little feature that actually does a smart job of staying out of the way of its actors and allowing the narrative to have some flow.

Sure it’s all pretty predictable from beginning to end but there’s an efficiency to the narrative as it all unfolds in front of us.  She’s a solid storyteller and while the material is littered with low-hanging fruit it still tastes OK because we get enough of the story inside the story which is about sisterhood, family and understanding how to appreciate life and appropriately face death which is where the real meat of it all lies.  The nonsense of the cheerleading can get a little distracting at times but it plays well as an empowering look at life towards the end and how people deal with it.

Hayes and her script that she made with writer Shane Atkinson has some genuine heart to it but it ultimately spends too much time making some tacky and condescending jokes along the way in order to sell the ‘comedy’ of it all rather than the actual heart in the story.  There was something special at its core but wanted to make geriatric jokes about people in a retirement community still wanting to sow some wild oats and do the kind of things that the did when they were younger a little bit more then it needed.

It’s all a weird but ultimately kind of effective look at life in retirement when society really thinks that we aren’t supposed to have any wants, desires or even to have a little fun.

Diane Keaton is a better comedienne then this material but she knows how to how to navigate her way through the material.  Jackie Weaver makes for a strong running partner throughout the narrative and they are a solid duo to anchor the film.  The movie could have used a little more Pam Grier, Celia Weston, Bruce McGill and Rhea Perlman as it’s never sure if it should go heartfelt or go gut bustlingly funny.  It kind of works as it straddles the line but it made you feel like you’d have wished it leaned either one way or the other.  It couldn’t decide if it wanted to be Bad Grandmas or Cocoon but you’re still OK with it being something in-between.

Ultimately, POMS is kind of fun.  No one will ever mistake it for high art and it’s a basic comedy but it’s got some genuine heart behind it that makes the attempt at low brow humor from seeing your grandmother in a cheerleader outfit actually play as more endearing and inspiring then awkwardly funny.

  • Release Date: 5/10/2019
This post was written by
David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.
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