How refreshing it is to see Hollywood start to embrace retirees both onscreen and off! The trend caught on with last year’s “Book Club” and “Finding Your Feet” and continues with “Poms,” a sweet little dramedy that reminds everyone that life doesn’t end at 60. This is cinema catnip for senior citizens and a foolproof chick flick for grandma and her pals.
Loner Martha (Diane Keaton) moves into a Georgia retirement community with a plan to quietly live out her remaining years. She mostly keeps to herself until chatty neighbor Sheryl (Jacki Weaver) catches a glimpse of an old cheerleading uniform in a stack of unpacked boxes. On a whim, the two women decide to start a cheerleading squad with their fellow residents (Pam Grier, Rhea Perlman, Phyllis Somerville), and the group of ladies find friendship along the path to following their dreams.
The film plays it safe and is packed with every “let’s celebrate old people!” cliché in the book (randy old timers rattling off wisecracks about sex, overbearing children who want to prevent their parents from doing what makes them happy, an understanding teenager taking an older woman under her wing and becoming pals). Some may find the movie in poor taste as it at times pokes fun at the ladies and their age-related ailments, but I didn’t find it to be mean spirited in any way. Most of the jokes about bad backs or bum knees are presented with a knowing wink and a nod rather than instructions to point and ridicule.
The characters are written sparsely, mere outlines of the women you’d like to get to know much better. It’s a minor criticism that’s outweighed by the heartfelt sincerity of the project. It’s wonderful to see older female actors being cast in films where they have more to do than sit around playing Grandma, and here they’re shown having fun in their golden years and being proactive in making their daydreams a reality.
Most of the supporting cast fades into the background, but the dynamic duo of Keaton and Weaver carry the film. These two charismatic actors are a match made in Heaven, their banter authentic and lively. Their characters look and feel like longtime pals, and their onscreen repartee has a bewitching quality that’ll make you wish you could hang out with them too. These two women deserve more (and hopefully more substantial) projects together (take note, Hollywood).
With a bit of inspiration, comedy, and poignancy, “Poms” shamelessly caters directly to its audience. It’s a delightful, inoffensive, harmless, and (mostly) feel-good story that will uplift the matriarch of many a family.