First Hit: There are several funny scenes, and although it gets to the edge of being silly, it never goes over the cliff.
My first memory of Diane Keaton (playing Martha) was at Orange Coast College where she was an acting student. Then, she was interestingly quirky — her own person and had a crowd around her (theater arts people). She still is the same kind of person, and in this film, she’s retired, alone and interestingly quirky.
The story begins with Martha selling her possessions. She’s moving to a retirement home in Georgia. The greeting is an over the top southern homespun reception that includes a tour of the grounds, and a lot of southern charm spread around like fertilizer.
This doesn’t quite sit well with Martha because, as a straight spoken northerner, we discover she’s there to be left alone and die a peaceful death from cancer which she is choosing not to fight.
She’s got a nosy neighbor Sheryl (Jacki Weaver) who intrudes on her. The interactions are, at first, exasperating. However, Martha soon warms up to her, especially when she learns that Sheryl substitute teaches to make extra money.
Martha tells Sheryl she was once a cheerleader and she had to quit before her first performance because her mother was ill and dying.
Sheryl and Martha start a cheerleading club at the retirement home. They need a total of eight people, and so they reach out, and six others show up for tryouts. They are; Alice (Rhea Perlman), Helen (Phyllis Somerville), Olive (Pam Grier), Phyllis (Patricia French), Evelyn (Ginny MacColl), and Ruby (Carol Sutton).
Each of them has a story as to why they want to be in the club, and we get to learn that some of these women have been or are being controlled by husbands for family, and by joining this club they are doing something they want, and they like it.
There are fun scenes that mostly relate what it is like to get older but having the spirit of being young still residing within.
There are ups and downs in this story, but the overall mood is, at times, poignant sprinkled with humor and fun.
Keaton is perfect for this role. Her own quirky independent nature fit very well with the quality of this character. Weaver was excellent as the nosy neighbor who had reason to have her grandson live with her. Perlman was fun. When she showed her “guns” in the gym, I could see she enjoyed it. Somerville, Grier, French, MacColl, and Sutton were all wonderful in their roles as women looking for a bit more fun in their lives. Charlie Tahan (as Sheryl’s grandson Ben) was very good as the nerdy guy who gained confidence along the way. Alisha Boe (as Chloe a high school girl who helps the Poms) was terrific. She saw that everyone gets older and that someday she’ll be there too. Shane Atkinson and Zara Hayes wrote this screenplay. Although it was lighthearted and filled with fluff, it worked. Hayes also directed this group, and I’m sure it was fun for the entire crew — it showed.
Overall: I liked and enjoyed it more than I thought I would.