Starring Diane Keaton, Jacki Weaver, Pam Grier, Rhea Pearlman, Charlie Tahan, Bruce McGill, Celia Weston,
In Diane Keaton’s new film, her character has lived in the same New York apartment for 46 years. Coincidentally, Keaton has been playing the same role in feature films for about the same length of time. Following the surprise success of last year’s “Book Club”, Keaton seems to have found a niche. “Poms” is the 2019 rebuttal to Hollywood forgetting about audiences over 60, who want a storyline catered to their demographic. “Poms” has a bit more spunk, taking a few more risks than “Book Club”, although without such high profile names in the marquee. While Keaton remains her own worst stereotype, Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook) is the dirty minded, potty mouth, scene stealer. “Poms” of course goes exactly where you expect, with little deviation, and a lot of “never give up” attitude.
Diagnosed with terminal cancer, Martha (Keaton) leaves the crowded noise of New York behind, and drives her Subaru to Georgia, checking into Sun Springs Easy Living. “I’m here to die,” she announces on arrival to the overbearing welcome committee. Vicki (Weston) the self anointed person in charge here, going over the rules and restrictions. Martha wants to be left alone, but a knock on her door from colorful neighbor Sheryl (Weaver) is the beginning of something new. Inspired by one of Sheryl’s visits to form a cheerleading club, the two new friends audition some of the healthier residents to practice and preform a routine at the yearly senior talent show. Setbacks, ailments and restrictions get in their way, but the elderly women have a lot to cheer for even with some of them playing beat the clock.
“Poms” of course goes exactly where you expect, with little deviation, and a lot of “never give up” attitude.
“Poms” immediately establishes itself as a comedy that exists just outside the realm of reality. Vicki’s enforcement tactics are some of the screenplays most absurd moments, despite how much fun Weston (“In the Bedroom”) seems to have delivering them. Keaton portrays her usual scatter brained, easily startled, fussy self, albeit with a slightly different hairstyle and surprisingly no pearls and only one scene with that signature neck scarf. Sheryl’s over the top skintight outfits and random discussions about erections and chlamydia, keep the audience moderately entertained when the film does dull. Grier (‘Jackie Brown”) and Perlman (“The Sessions”) are a bit rusty for feature film, their overactive emotions are often cringe-worthy.
As the script veers in the direction of a competition, we lose sight on the wild antics found in a retirement village, and the entire premise becomes less interesting. “Poms” isn’t an AARP flick that anyone can enjoy, it constantly restricts itself to one particular demographic, which is fine, but disappointingly limited. The screenplay pushes it’s message too hard and too often, it rarely allows the ideology represented here to speak for itself, all the characters have to keep reminding us they are caricatures instead of real people. Cliches and stereotypes are the currency of “Poms”, from the bitchy teenagers, to the rich a-holes. If anyone has bothered to write these women based on real people “Poms” could have exceed expectations like the magnificent “Hello My Name is Doris”, instead of another elderly ensemble.
'Poms' is unfortunately exactly what it looks like, repackaged senior comedy clichés.