A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Poms is a crowd-pleasing friendship comedy starring Diane Keaton as a woman dying from cancer who lives out her long-lost dream of becoming a cheerleader. The humor is sharp and female focused; it often revolves around one character's matter-of-fact sexual assertiveness and the Bring It On-style rivalry between groups of older and younger cheerleaders. Expect to hear quite a bit of language, both swearing ("ass," "bitch," "s--t") and sexual innuendo ("erection," "prophylactic"). Characters also drink and talk about "reefer," and there are exchanges that include sexual putdowns ("slut"). The cancer story isn't handled heavily, but Keaton's character is shown vomiting frequently to remind viewers that the disease is taking its toll. It's worth noting that these women aren't presented through a Hollywood lens: Everyone looks authentic, with a diverse cast and various realistic body types. Other messages include the idea that you're never too old to pursue your dreams and that it's important to have the courage of your convictions; themes also touch on teamwork, courage, and perseverance. With its strong girl power vibe, it's a film about being old that's also likely to entertain those who are young, thanks to the teen characters (Alisha Boe, Charlie Tahan) who get pulled into helping train the older women.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In POMS, as Martha (Diane Keaton) begins to make friends in her new retirement community, her new bestie, Sheryl (Jacki Weaver), encourages her to achieve a long-lost dream of becoming a cheerleader. Together -- and despite Martha's cancer diagnosis -- they start a senior cheer club, recruit a group of other senior women, and set their sights on entering a competition. But when the only other seniors in the competition are high school seniors, the retirees realize they're going to have to give it their all.
Is it any good?
This comedy will have audiences rooting for the cheerleaders, who are played by a veteran cast of comedic actors and form a winning team -- and a funny film. "Codger comedies" that reach down and appeal to younger generations have proven to be a winning formula since Going in Style and The Golden Girls, but lately it's been harder to find laughs that bridge the age gap. However, Keaton's wonderful wit turns prickly cancer patient Martha into a funny, sympathetic character that the audience instantly gets behind. And Weaver elevates the "naughty grandma" stereotype by playing Sheryl with a sweet earnestness and a feisty spirit. Even the "Southern Belle" HOA president, as played by Celia Weston, feels less Cruella de Vil and more like that one control freak you can find in every neighborhood. They're characters we've seen a million times and that are often played with a broad goofiness, but these actresses (as well as Pam Grier and Rhea Perlman) bring out their humanity and make them real.
There's an authenticity that plays beneath the surface of what, in other hands, might be a "zany" film with a ludicrous plot. Credit the decade of experience that writer-director Zara Hayes has making documentaries about women like Billie Jean King, Dian Fossey, and Bangladeshi garment industry workers. That realism definitely comes into play in the film's casting: The high school cheerleaders don't look like Victoria's Secret models, and the senior cheerleaders don't have fish lips: The baby fat and the wrinkles are all present, and it's magnificent. This is a movie that walks the walk, given that its messages are about not trying to escape the inevitable: Just love yourself for who you are, and enjoy your life for what it is. The combination of Hayes, Keaton, and their fab ensemble (including 93-year-old Dorothy Steel, who elicits laugh-out-loud moments every time her security guard trainee is on camera) make for a comedy about retirees that will likely leave everyone grinning.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how the Sun Springs cheer squad overcomes social media shaming in Poms. Can this be applied to other instances of cyberbullying through embarrassment? What are other ways to deal with it?
How do the women of the cheer squad exemplify courage? How can you overcome self-doubt? How can you squelch the doubters in your life?
How do you feel about the way the film represents both older women and teen girls? How does it compare to what you've seen in other movies/TV shows? What message does it send about body image?
What's the importance of friendship in your life? How can you be a supportive friend?
- In theaters: May 10, 2019
- On DVD or streaming: August 6, 2019
- Cast: Diane Keaton, Pam Grier, Charlie Tahan, Jacki Weaver
- Director: Zara Hayes
- Studio: STX Entertainment
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Friendship, Misfits and Underdogs
- Character Strengths: Courage, Perseverance, Teamwork
- Run time: 91 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: some language/sexual references
- Awards/Honors: Common Sense Seal
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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