Review by Liz Lauder
I went into the screening of Poms after work with a gal-pal and popcorn, ready to have some wholesome laughs (and maybe a tear), but ultimately something to recommend to my mother next time we speak. Diane Keaton is highly regarded in my mother’s friend circle, and a film with Keaton, Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook), Alisha Boe (13 Reasons Why) and a comical storyline where women in a Southern State retirement community fight ageism and start a cheer squad? Sounds very much like my mother’s cup of tea.
The movie starts off with some self narration from Keaton’s character as she clears out her apartment and gets ready to move into a fancy retirement community. She has no family or friends, but she does have terminal cancer and plans to live out her final months in more idyllic setting. It’s a sombre start to the film that I wasn’t ready for. The laughter only begins when we meet Weaver, a resident retiree with a flair for all things sex positive. Her character is a stark contrast to Keaton’s and her dialogue creates some much-needed comedic relief- “I’m into only two things; poker and poking”.
When Boe joins the film as a high school cheerleader, the tone changes to the woman empowering, ‘you can do anything you set your mind to’ film I was expecting to see. In line with 2019, they managed to also throw in some messages about ‘body positivity’ and not to ‘slut shame’, but round it all off with strong themes of family and friendship. The film doesn’t disappoint on the obligatory kick-ass cheer routine either, especially impressive as the entire squad is in their 70s! There’s no backflips, but there is a whole lot of shimmying and grinding.
In my opinion, I feel like the film wasn’t quite comedy, not quite drama, and too disjointed to be a considered a dramedy. The sex talk was so unexpected initially that a few of us had a wee choke on our popcorn, and there was a snorting of awkward laughter, but by the end it was so awkward and cringy and on cue that few were laughing. I left the cinema feeling a little let down, but at the end of the day it I’m not the target demographic as a twenty-something female. The rest of the cinema patrons were aged 50+, and they all seemed to enjoy their night out, so maybe so I will recommend it to my mum.
PS: Take your mum out to see this for Mother’s Day at your own risk. I’m not kidding – there’s a LOT of sex references you probably don’t want to explain to your mum, or worse; uncover that she already knows them!
Poms is out in New Zealand cinemas now.