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The Pom Pom Girls (1976)

by on 2011/09/10

“Our team is on the ball. Your team is Geritol.”

* * *

Ah, the 70s. Hair was long, pant legs were huge, littering was cool, and no one ever, ever wore seat belts.

The Pom Pom Girls is perhaps best described as a vintage Wrigley’s Spearmint Gum ad with nudity and misdemeanor criminal activities. Another in our‘s Back to School marathon, this strangely well-filmed B-movie is exactly what you’d expect from the title.

There are girls. They have pom poms.

The Pom Pom Girls, starring Jennifer Ashley, Lisa Reeves, Susan Player and Diane Lee Hart, is more a series of disconnected movie moments than a film with a plot. A tug of war over an open pit of mud, girls in white t-shirts and shirtless boys struggle in the mire. Girls practice football cheers in bikinis by the ocean. Cars flash lights and honk horns at a drive-in burger shack. A dirt bike races over dusty hills.

It was as though director Joseph Ruben was trying to generate as much beautiful 70s stock footage as he could – and it is all compellingly filmed with some beautiful little touches here and there. A scene begins with the flickering and undulating tassels of the plastic white and red banners in a deserted used car lot. Girls somersault down a steep sandy hill. Boys in leather jackets drag race in two shining stock cars near a cliff.

The “plot” as well as I understood it centres around Johnnie (Robert Carradine), Jesse (Michael Mullins) and their various monkey shines and moments of tom foolery as seniors in school.  Two dumb jocks on the make, Johnnie has a shiny red vintage car with a huge back seat, Jesse has a van with an air mattress in the back.

The only conflict in the film is between Johnnie and Duane (Bill Adler), who are fighting over a particularly comely California girl. Oh yes, and Jesse has it in for his football coach (James Gammon).

Dialogue is not a strong suit in this movie. In fact there isn’t much talking at all, there’s mostly squealing, screaming and woo-hooing.  I thought at several points that if the audio were replaced by the sounds of new-born puppies, the viewer would be none the wiser.

Revenge of the Nerds and Lizze McGuire’s Carradine is occasionally charismatic and often repellent as Johnnie. His over-the-top high school hijinks – urinating out of a classroom window, playing ‘suicide chicken’ in a vintage drag racer – would probably be diagnosed today as ADHD and borderline personality disorder. In the 70s, he was merely a free-spirited life of the party.

It was a truly different time.

Ditzy, dumb, disjointed but with moments of real visual interest (no, not the just the pom poms), The Pom Pom Girls is a must-see for those who are nostalgic about or fascinated by growing up in the free-wheeling 70s.

* * *

89 minutes

Rated R for what goes on in Jesse’s van with a particular drive-in diner waitress, drinking and driving, swearing, criminal acts and public urination

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  1. The Van (1977) « Geek vs Goth

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