Film Review: Poms

This calculated crowd pleaser of a character piece from writer/director Zara Hayes’ sets out to make some valid points about ageism and seizing the day.

Sharing star Diane Keaton and some producers with last year’s hokier Book Club, this is a little less hoary but just as contrived, with a cast uniformly committed to overacting. Even Keaton.

The unmarried and childless Martha (Keaton) sells up and moves to Sun Springs retirement community to, as she says right at the start, die, and it’s not a spoiler to reveal that she’s suffering from cancer and has said no to chemotherapy. Keaton’s moments alone as she sits quietly pondering her fate are the best here, but the English Hayes (a documentarian and TV director in her feature début) has an awful lot of goofy comedy and gooey sentiment to get through, so these reflective scenes don’t last long.

Martha becomes friendly with her in-your-face neighbour Sheryl (Jacki Weaver, of course) and, as they’re being pressured to join or start a club, they impulsively decide to set up a senior cheerleading team. And if that seems altogether improbable, given Martha’s condition and general reclusiveness, then that’s because it is, but they do it anyway.

Auditions are held despite the concerns of busybody Vicki (Celia Weston) and soon a team is assembled that notably includes the recently-widowed Alice (Rhea Perlman, best-known for her longtime role in TV’s Cheers) and Olive, who’s played by Pam Grier, former Blaxploitation Queen, continuing cult legend and star of Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown. A hugely unlikely and disastrous public performance follows, which leads to the recruitment of their teenage nemesis Chloe (Alisha Boe) as their choreographer, and if you somehow couldn’t guess that she’ll eventually get together with Sheryl’s awkward grandson Ben (Charlie Tahan) then you really don’t see enough movies.

Given the caliber of the cast, Poms can’t help but generate a laugh or two, but one can’t help but feel the particular demographic the film is obviously aimed at deserve better than this at times sluggish and predictable outing. Something worth cheering for, even.

Poms (PG) is in cinemas now

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