There’s no scarcity of spirit among the many forged of “Poms,” Zara Hayes’ new cheerleading and retirement-age comedy hybrid, however not even this a lot pep can cowl up the entire movie’s missteps. Although it’s onerous to remain disillusioned for lengthy when Diane Keaton is only one exasperated sigh from making you chuckle once more.
Life bought in the way in which of Martha’s (Keaton) youthful dream of turning into a cheerleader, however her fondness for the game stays by way of her older years. After a grim prognosis of most cancers, Martha sells off the majority of her belongings and units off from New York City to a retirement neighborhood in Georgia. She’s greeted by Southern belles and by Sheryl (Jacki Weaver), an excessively pleasant neighbor with a keenness for pink flamingos and shiny make-up. Among the various arbitrary guidelines of her new dwelling, Martha should discover a membership to take part in, so with Sheryl’s assist, she kinds her cheerleading squad ultimately, giving her a shot at that long-delayed debut.
The script by Shane Atkinson (Hayes, a documentarian making her fiction debut, will get story credit score) combines feel-good parts with a bittersweet tone. It’s uneven at instances and hits a couple of too many clichés for my style, but when my preview viewers was any indication, the film’s nonetheless fairly efficient. Watching the ensemble come collectively is a heartening sight, and the chaotic audition scene looks like a tribute to maybe the best cheerleading film of all time, “Bring It On.”
There are various crowd-pleasing feminist moments when the ladies rise up for themselves and one another in opposition to old school males attempting to get of their approach. More than simply letting Martha discover a sisterhood amongst fellow outcasts, the film additionally appears on the approach cruelty exists amongst different girls on the neighborhood and between the generations, as a bunch of high-school cheerleaders turns into one of many film’s sources of stress. Despite its fluffy premise, “Poms” does contact on how folks deal with grief, sickness and transferring on, however these scenes are temporary and actually solely occur in blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moments.
The film shines brightest when it provides its forged the highlight. Here, Keaton is riffing on her flustered city-gal persona however in a extra quiet and reserved method than typical. As a single lady, she’s wildly self-sufficient and able to do issues on her personal with out different folks’s permission. Martha decides to maintain her prognosis a secret from the group till she will’t, the primary of many guarded partitions separating her from actually opening as much as others. At first, she’s in opposition to befriending the extroverted Sheryl, however finally, the 2 grow to be shut pals, and Martha’s distancing habits melts away to disclose a extra susceptible facet.
While Keaton wrestles with the painful arc of a cancer-stricken character, Weaver steals the film outright. As the comedian foil, Weaver enhances her character’s outrageous habits and too-honest candor with a large smile and mischievous eyes. There are hints to Sheryl’s household issues and why her grandson lives together with her, however the characters don’t actually get into it, preferring as an alternative to maintain Sheryl a humorous if uncomplicated presence.
While Keaton and Weaver get to have enjoyable and extra fleshed-out characters, the remainder of the squad stays a bit imprecise. Rhea Perlman will get just a little extra display time as a newly liberated lady who’s free to curse and cheerlead, however the film criminally underutilizes Pam Grier, relegating her to just a few strains about tango dancing together with her husband and defining her character as “the married one” of the group. Phyllis Somerville, Patricia French, Carol Sutton and Ginny MacColl spherical out the squad, every including a special dynamic with which Keaton’s headstrong character…
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