Cinematic Releases: Poms (2019) - Reviewed

Academy Award winning actress Diane Keaton has been keeping busy at her early seventies, having recently done voicework for Finding Dory and starring in the romcom Book Club released last year.  While that film prominently featured Keaton as the lead, it marked the debut of writer-director Bill Holderman’s launch to the silver screen.  Incidentally, Keaton’s new film Poms would also mark the arrival of documentary filmmaker Zara Hayes’ first foray into writing-directing a feature, making it the second time Keaton has helped launch the careers of up and coming film directors.  In her new film co-starring Jackie Weaver, Pam Grier, Rhea Perlman and Carol Sutton, the 73 year old Keaton enters into a retirement home where after befriending the residents group together to (get ready for it) form a cheerleading squad!

After an entire series worth of the Bring It On movies, the story proceeds through the usual clich├ęs germane to the cheerleading movie subgenre from the formulation of the group, the comical uphill battles of training, public humiliation from a botched first try, disbanding, reunion and finally triumph.  We’ve seen it all before so many different times over the predictable plot machinations, yet the age group of the characters and the performances (largely by the film’s real heroine Jackie Weaver) keep things engaging while working in the bittersweet thread of facing one’s fears of dying.  At times the film’s saccharine sweetness can indeed come off as cloying yet like the characters are likable and Weaver more or less owns the film.  Kind of curious the film is being billed as Keaton’s show yet is upstaged by her co-star in every scene they share, but I digress.

Visually Pineapple Express director of photography Tim Orr’s cinematography suits the light yet colorful romcom aesthetic.  Upon watching, one gets the feeling this would do just fine on the Hallmark Channel on Mother’s Day weekend (which the film’s theatrical distributors STX Entertainment are no doubt counting on).  With a cast of familiar faces as notable as this, it’s the kind of film which seems suited for television but like so many other STX offerings winds up going to theaters anyway.  That said, Overall Poms is a cute and lighthearted feel-good goof you can take your mom to and was far better than some of the other ensemble family-friendly comedies that have come out in recent years.  Just don’t expect it to reinvent the wheel.

- Andrew Kotwicki