I've been exposed to a lot to people in the late November/early December of their lives recently, and it is various helping sizes of sadness, emotion, triumph, melancholy and farewell. And it's nice to see it embraced in one fashion or another lately by actresses like Jane Fonda and Diane Keaton, who seem to enjoy making movies that poke fun at their age or mortality, as is the case with Poms.
Documentary director Zara Hayes co-wrote the story and directed it as well, which features Keaton (Book Club) as Martha, a woman who moves into a retirement community around the time of learning about a terminal cancer diagnosis. She meets Sheryl (Jacki Weaver, Silver Linings Playbook), who encourages her to find herself while doing normal life things that the community frowns on, things like gambling and drinking. Avoiding the watchful eye of the HOA leader Vicki (Celia Weston, The Intern) is tough, but Martha decides to start a cheerleading squad, and with the help of a more age appropriate cheer squad member in Chloe (Alisha Boe, 68 Kill) , Martha and her squad enter a competition that puts her group older than any one of the teams, several times over.
With movies like Poms, the overall message is trying to find some enjoyment out of life, even if it is with a strange premise like forming a cheerleading squad, and generally Keaton and the film are fine with the central message. Martha is dealing with her remaining days and wants to live out loud as it were, so I get that part of it. Sheryl helps her along with this and in the closest thing the film has to a co-star, Weaver's work is fun and she carries a good portion of the film with it.
The big problem I had with Poms is that it highlights a good number of actresses as other cheerleaders, but not a lot of time is spent with them. Cheers waitress Rhea Perlman plays Alice, a recent widow. Her character almost seems beneath her compared to her abilities. It's a little too stereotypish, where she is a protected older woman finding herself like Martha does, albeit in a little more analog manner. Phyllis Somerville (Little Children) is Helen, a woman protected by her kids and can't do fun stuff. And Pam Grier, (Jackie Brown) is doing…something? While I had enough to sum these characters up, I'd imagine they could go through some of the same thoughts that Keaton's character does, and may offer up a surprise or two, but we get nothing from them in Poms. Sad!
I don't mind films where older actors in their sixties (or more) try to get one more drink from the Cup of Life, but Poms felt more like an honor play for Keaton's character than a collective effort on why to do cheerleading and if it was, the importance of it to the characters personally wasn't convincing. It would be nice to see something like this focus more on the motivations of why than on one individual, but that's for other probably more poignant films to do.The Blu-ray
In 1.85:1, Poms gets more to work with than you'd expect. A couple of wide exterior shots show off the image detail as Martha drives to the community, the black levels during the competitions are pretty sharp and provide good shadow delineation, and color palette is sharp without oversaturating. Detail is consistent though doesn't drop any jaws during viewing, it's a solid presentation of a serviceable film.The Sound:
DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 for this geriatric showcase, which does get a bit to do between the pulsing pop and/or techno that the cheerleaders employ. But past that things are quiet and reflect the muted environment of the retirement home. A car chase that includes a golf cart and bus tries to provide some dynamic range and does but like the transfer does not you're your mind. .Extras:
While it is nice that Diane Keaton is tackling films about seniors in various stages of age doing things that they wouldn't normally be doing, these films are becoming more of a hit or miss proposition in terms of working. Technically the disc is fine and no extras? Come on. But Poms is less of a fun ride watching a quintet of older actresses defying conventional wisdom on age and more of one where Keaton serves as an emotional center whose overemphasis made the story a little redundant in the process. I could watch other things like this and like them.