There’s a great movie to be found in a retirement community, particularly since the over-60 set is a key movie-going demographic.
Unfortunately, “Poms” only skims the surface of seniors who don’t like living by rules. It spends too much time practicing for an unnecessary competition when it should be honing the dynamics among folks with lots of free time and plenty of disposable income.
In the no-stress comedy, Diane Keaton plays an aging teacher who moves to Sun Springs retirement community to live out the rest of her days. She has been diagnosed with cancer and doesn’t want to make an effort to stop its growth. In short, she just wants to plunk. The folks there, however, have different ideas.
Vicki, a nosy board member (the oh-so-great Celia Weston), insists all residents belong to a group. Rather than join something that’s established, Keaton and her next-door neighbor (Jacki Weaver) decide to form a cheerleading squad.
Keaton’s Martha got on her high school squad as a senior but never got to cheer because her mother was sick. Better late than never, Weaver’s Sheryl says, and soon they’re auditioning others for the team.
Anyone who has seen a frame of “Calendar Girls” or an episode of “The Golden Girls” knows where this is headed.
Director Zara Hayes fills the team with a variety of “types” (and ailments) but doesn’t give many of them much to do. Instead, she focuses on Keaton and Weaver who bond despite major differences. When they finally get to the competition, we realize just how vital friendship is at any age.
“Poms” needs more depth, even though it has frequent laughs. Getting into that community and showing more of their everyday lives would do it, particularly since we’re never quite sure what serves as motivation.
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“Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” captured those slice-of-life moments. “Waitress” did, too. But “Poms” reaches too often for a quick laugh.
A subplot (with Sheryl’s grandson) could have been a film in itself.
Luckily, Keaton and Weaver work well together. They laugh and cry, plot and scheme and, ultimately, realize the only reason they’re friends is because they wound up in the same place.
Rhea Perlman and Pam Grier are part of their squad but they’re barely given enough to do in the routines. They have “stories,” but they’re undernourished.
Hayes has the right mindset. She just needed to watch “The Full Monty” and see how that walked a similar path.
Weaver makes everything she’s in a little better and Weston is such a perfect busybody you want her to find a film that truly takes advantage of her talent.
“Poms” gives it the old high school try, but it’s not the trophy-winner we’d like it to be. A for effort but C for execution.