POMS

POMS. Starring: Diane Keaton, Jacki Weaver, Pam Grier, and Rhea Perlman. Directed by Zara Hayes. Rated PG (Mild sexual references and coarse language). 90 min.

This is a British-American comedy about a group of women in a retirement community in Georgia, U.S.A, who form a cheer-leading squad. The title is intended as a friendly form of slang, or refers to what cheer-leaders typically swirl. The film is based loosely on a story written by the film’s Director (Zara Hayes), and Shane Atkinson.

In the movie, Diane Keaton plays Martha, who moves into a retirement community in Georgia USA, with an illness she describes as “waiting to die”. When she moves in, fellow resident, Sheryl (Jackie Weaver) - eager to keep residents busy - befriends her. Martha and Sheryl decide to set up a cheer-leading squad to get residents involved, and invigorated, and they manage to recruit Olive (Pam Grier), Alice (Rhea Perlman), and five others. The venture succeeds admirably, and the squad swings into dancing and rhythmic interaction, and becomes a force of positive change for community friendship among a small group of retirees who are wanting much more meaning in their lives.

As Martha makes new friends in her community, Sheryl encourages her to realise her long-lost dream of becoming a cheer-leader which she almost managed to do, way back in her youth. Martha and Sheryl form the motivating nucleus of the new group, and Martha’s enthusiasm for the cheer-leading cause brings her to the point of thinking her small band of retirees might perhaps be good enough to enter a competition, which they do.

The plot is not a little unlike the recent film, “Swimming with Men’ where an ageing group of men bond together, enter a swimming competition for synchronised swimming, and almost (but not quite) win it. Martha and her group finally perform in competition, and do so to rapturous applause.

This is a film that is geared for Seniors, and has been made to entertain viewers who place themselves firmly in that category. Its marketing-push makes that obvious. It explicitly targets Advanced  Seniors.

Both Diane Keaton and Australia’s own Jackie Weaver have starred in some exceptional movies. It is hard to forget the vibrancy of Diane Keaton in her infectious Academy Award winning performance as Annie Hall in the movie of the same name by Woody Allen, and equally hard to forget Jackie Weaver’s powerhouse performance in the Australian crime drama, “Animal Kingdom”, directed by David Michod. In this movie, both of them interact with ease together, and bring seasoned character-playing skills to their parts.

This is a movie that deliberately attempts to capture joy among the aged, and in that respect it succeeds. However, it is also nostalgic cinema. It is a film to be enjoyed for what it is: a focused attempt to try to make aged people feel young again, and to “swing along” in Hollywood-manufactured, escapist style.

The film sets out to prove its marketing by-line, that it is “never too late to follow your dreams”. It is relatively thin in narrative strength; its scripting is predictable; the acting is obvious, but very spirited and enthusiastic; and the movie is uplifting for what it delivers. Packaged as it is, the film will entertain those looking for what they have paid for in purchasing their ticket - a film to facilitate nostalgic remembrances of good times passed, delivered sentimentally.

For a thought-challenging night out, this is a film that can’t be counted upon to satisfy, but for therapeutic dreaming about lost opportunities it enjoyably entertains in a “feel good” way. However, one can’t help thinking there are much more important memories than cheer-leading to recover, and be grateful for, after entering a retirement home.

Peter W. Sheehan is Associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting

Roadshow Films

Released May 9, 2019


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