I can imagine the pitch meeting…
Studio Executive: What’s your idea for a movie?
Writer/Director Zara Hayes, confidently: It’s called “Poms” and is about a group of women in a retirement community who get together to form a cheerleading squad.
Exec: Yeah, and?
Hayes: That’s it.
Exec: Where’s the drama?
Hayes, obviously winging it now: Well, the leader of the group is dying of cancer, but doesn’t tell any of them.
Exec: So, the antagonist is cancer? I don’t think so.
Hayes, desperately trying to save the pitch: Um, there’s also a mean old Southern belle who rules over the retirement community and will do whatever it takes to keep the women from cheerleading.
Exec: It’s going to be hard to sell a movie starring a lot of old people.
Hayes, confidently again: You mean like, “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” which grossed over $40 million on a tiny budget, enough to warrant a sequel?
Exec: OK, that was a good example. Who’s your cast?
Hayes: Diane Keaton, Jacki Weaver, Rhea Perlman, and Pam Grier, for starters.
Exec: You know that, by law, every non-special-effects movie made these days must have a part for Bruce McGill.
Hayes: I’ll make him head of security for the community, a seemingly gruff but in the end sweet guy who does the right thing.
Exec: Can you work in a love story involving some millennials, maybe someone’s grandson falls for a high-school cheerleader or something?
Hayes: If you make me.
Exec: All right, we’ll give you a couple of million dollars to make your movie. But you have to promise the script will be utterly predictable on every page. No surprises allowed, and not too much stuff about the cancer. Make it a feel-good comedy, but not funny enough for anyone to remember a single thing any of the characters say.
Hayes: I can do that.
Exec: You have a green light.
In the end, Hayes delivered on all of her points. The actresses did their best, but couldn’t save “Poms,” which turned out to be just so-so — almost like it was planned. I give the movie a 4 out of 10.