The Age of the Cheer Squad

Review: Poms
(PG) Diane Keaton, Jacki Weaver, Pam Grier, Charlie Tahan

When movie marketers are looking for a growing audience, they need to look no further than the burgeoning population that is over the age of 60 years of age. Hot on the heels of the recent hit films like Book Club and Finding Your Feet, studios will continue to look to the baby boomer’s moviegoers to come out to see more stories like Poms

With the ever-increasing number of people living in independent and assisted living communities, they have proven to be a haven for story ideas for screenwriters. This is the case for Diane Keaton’s latest project, where she plays Martha, the newest resident of Sun Springs Retirement Community. An active atmosphere that has a requirement for every resident to join or start a club within the facility. With the group activities lacking any appeal for Martha and her newest friend Sheryl (Jacki Weaver), the two decide to form a cheerleading club. As a means of staying fit, connecting with others and living out past dreams, they assemble an unassuming group of women who decide that it is never too late to join the cheer squad. 

The leadership of Sun Springs is less than supportive of their efforts, but reluctantly allow the women to assemble and practice their moves. All goes as planned and the ladies begin to develop into a team, but then a video leaks of their cheering efforts and they have to determine if they will continue cheering or disband the troupe. During all of the turmoil and publicity, there are health scares and newfound motivations lead the enthusiastic seniors to sign the team up for a cheering competition. 

Audiences may wonder if this is the best use of Academy Award talents like Keaton and Weaver, but at their season of life the better question may need to be, why not? Written and directed by documentary director Zara Hayes, this is a film that seems to be more of a celebration than a bookend for life. The seasoned filmmaker manages to capture the potential hilarity that these communities can offer, while respecting the humanity of those who live within these gated communities. When dealing with characters that carry so much personal history, it is impossible to unpack everything about each character in one film. This aspect makes it impossible to develop each character and does lead to glaring plot holes, but these gaps are filled in by endearing relationships forged in the film.  

Diane Keaton manages to deliver her trademark style which helps to stabilize the story, but it is the surrounding cast that will win audiences over. Jackie Weaver, Pam Grier, Rhea Perlman and the rest of the cheer squad will cheer their way into your hearts. Think of this as a teenaged comedy with senior citizens and less vulgarity, even though the characters in this film prove that age does not entirely inhibit their hormones. Also even if you did not have a cheer squad at school or had no desire to be a cheerleader, this is an enjoyable jaunt for any age bracket and may make people celebrate the lives of the seniors in their lives. 

Poms is far from being an award-winning movie, but there is nothing that says that was the original intention. This film is an excellent opportunity to go over to your parents or grandparents and invite them to the movies. Then as the film concludes, reach over, give them a big hug of gratitude for being your cheerleader throughout your life.

Looking Deeper

One of the underlying themes of Poms is people trying to understand old age and what to do with the rest of what is left. After living through most of the key events in life, there has to be an evaluation of what to do with the later years. What we can understand from the Bible is that every day on this earth is a gift. So, what will you do with the life you have been given? Ponder the ‘what ifs’ of life or seek after the ‘what to do’ with the life we have been given.

Questions

1. Is there anything to look forward in old age? (Psalm 71:18, 2 Corinthians 4:16)

2. Is life mysterious? (Colossians 2:1-3, Matthew 13:11-13)

3. Does God care about my dreams? (Jeremiah 29:11, Proverbs 16:3)

Russell Matthews works for City Bible Forum Sydney and is a film blogger 




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