"POMS" Review: The Perfect Dud for Mother's Day!
You have to be patient with POMS in the same way you have to be patient with your grandmother or an elderly friend. You keep hoping that the chemistry amongst its cast will get better, that it’s going to pick up the pace, that it won’t keep engaging in the routine beats of ensemble films that have done this before (and better), and that its veteran cast will act like they’ve been acting for decades. Instead, this movie slips into slapstick, juvenile comedy at times and you wish its screenplay and characters were more maturely developed.
Martha (Diane Keaton) decides to move into a retirement community after a life with no children, seemingly no friends, and learning she has cancer. It’s her way of “going out” on her own accord. She’s introduced to the welcoming committee, an elderly mean girl trio led by southern belle Vicki (Celia Weston), and informed that she has to join a club or create one as apart of the community. Martha quickly forms a hodge podge group of women to join her cheerleading club. They consist of the barely used Pam Grier and Rhea Perlman.
Martha’s neighbor, the spunky, promiscuous Sheryl (Jacki Weaver), helps the group perform at the local high school. When the unrehearsed group’s performance fails, a video of them hits the internet and goes viral. Due to the club’s ability to lift every member’s spirits, they decide to take it to “nationals” of sorts in the Bring It On type of climax.
There are so many moments in this film that I thought I was watching a young improv troop perform. Diane Keaton gives a confusing performance as Martha. She’s not quite a grumpy old woman, but she doesn’t really have any redeeming value either. She talks out loud to herself a lot in the movie, but not in the way that perhaps an older person, slowly losing her mental faculty would. It’s more like accidentally saying the beats of the scene out loud or trying to fill blank space in a scene. The film doesn’t really allow its stars to shine, but instead reduces them to the stereotypes of a younger version grown up. Jackie Weaver is the only bright light of the film as she brings an authentic, lovable character out of Sheryl.
If this movie wins any hearts it would have to be with an older demographic. That was the only people I heard saying anything positive about the film. I was hoping the film would be a winner in the vein of “you’re never too old to go after your dreams”! I expected to shed some tears and want to hug my grandmother after seeing this film or even be put on the path to think about what she’s been through in her lifetime. Instead, co-writer/director Zara Hayes (co-writer Shane Atkinson gets this ire too) gives us a forced, snooze fest that should have been something special. Sometimes going from documentary filmmaker to narratives doesn’t translate well. POMS is an example where the same care that’s given to documentary subjects should have been given to the characters in this film.