Sun City Poms inspire more than activity, now on big screen

By Rusty Bradshaw
Independent Newsmedia

The Poms are taking center stage, this time on the big screen.

“Poms,” a feature film produced by Sierra/Affinity, Mad As Birds Films and Rose Pictures, will open in Valley theaters during Mother’s Day weekend and it has a bit of a local connection. The Sun City Poms, a dance and marching group, were the inspiration for the movie.

Starring Diane Keaton, the movie tells the story of a group of women who form a cheerleading squad at their retirement community, proving that you’re never too old to “bring it!” Other familiar names in the movie cast are Pam Grier, Jacki Weaver, Rhea Perlman and Bruce McGill.

In 2015, Sun City Poms director Ruth Pharris received a call from Zara Hayes, “Poms” director, according to Greta Paulson, Sun City Poms member. The women talked for an hour or so about the Sun City Poms. That was the last Sun City Poms members heard about a film until about two months ago.

The Sun City Poms will make appearances at three theaters around the Valley to help moviegoers get into the spirit. The group will dance its signature routine to “We’ve Got the beat” at each appearance. They will perform Friday, May 10 at Harkins Tempe Marketplace, 2000 E. Rio Salado Parkway; Saturday, May 11 at Harkins Scottsdale 101, 7000 E. Mayo Blvd.; and Sunday, May 12 at Arrowhead, 16046 N. Arrowhead Fountain Center Drive, Peoria. Each performance will begin at 11 a.m. Check each theater for show times.

“We will be attending the showing at all three theaters and will be available to greet the patrons,” Ms. Paulson stated in an email.

One of the advertising posters, put out by the production company, had a picture of some of the Sun City Poms in front of the Sun Bowl stage, 10220 N. 107th Ave., Sun City and when some of the Sun City Poms saw the trailer.

“It was obvious that we were the inspiration for the movie,” Ms. Paulson stated. “In fact, one of the phrases in the movie, ‘over my dead body,’ was a direct quote from Pat Weber, our former director, marching director, and now marching advisor.”

The movie was filmed in a Del Webb community — Sun City Peachtree — in Atlanta, Georgia. In the film, the song the movie Poms used for their first routine was “We’ve Got the Beat” by the Go Gos, the Sun City Poms’ signature routine.

The Sun City Poms had a private showing April 29 at Harkins Park West, 9804 W. Northern Ave., Peoria.

“In the credits at the end, it stated that it was based on a true story but all characters and scenes were fiction,” Ms. Paulson stated.

The Sun City Poms are celebrating their 40th anniversary in 2019. The group evolved from cheerleaders of the Sun City Saints women’s softball team in 1979 to both a parade marching group plus performing dancers. The Sun City Poms are energetic performers who demonstrate the organization’s energy and rhythmic skills throughout the Valley.

Marching Poms entertain spectators with dance marches in about 10 parades throughout the season, including the Fiesta Bowl Parade. Performing Poms keep a busy schedule with about 30 shows per season, including local high schools, care centers, charity functions and community events, such as Glendale Glitters. They were featured this year on the NBC Today Show with a segment titled “Meet the Poms, Pom Pom Squad Proves That Age is Just a Number.”

The website Common Sense Media,, provided a description of the film. “‘Poms’ is a comedy about a group of retirees who form a cheerleading squad. 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, 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. Expect plenty of sexual references and racy jokes, as well as some swearing and serious discussions about death and illness, but overall this looks like it will be an uplifting comedy that’s OK for teens.”

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.