This is it! Pom Poms and Payback is quite possibly the great Lifetime cheerleader film ever!
We start with a dream-like sequence in which a teenager named Sally Crumb walks down the street while three cheerleaders stalk behind her, chanting her name and accusing her of being “a bum” and “a cheater.” Reaching her house, Sally turns on the cheerleaders and shouts at them to leave her alone. The main cheerleader laughs at her. Sally threatens to kill all of the cheerleaders. Again, the cheerleaders don’t look particularly concerned. Meanwhile, barely noticed, Sally’s little sister glares at all three of them….
Jump forward 25 years! Three new cheerleaders — Sharlene (Shaylaren Hilton), Jessie (La’Priesh Roman), and Annabelle (Jazlyn Nicolette Sward) — are all looking forward to next school dance! They’ve all got wonderful boyfriends and all the reason in the world to be happy. But something goes wrong for all three of them. Sharlene sees a picture of her boyfriend making out with another girl. Jessie discovers that her grades have been altered, apparently be the somewhat nerdy but adorable guy that she’s dating. Meanwhile, Annabelle’s boyfriend goes to college out-of-state. Despite having promised to fly home for the dance, he never shows up. He claims that his flight was cancelled but obviously, he must have been cheating!
Under Sharlene’s direction, all three of the cheerleaders get revenge on their boyfriends but then Sharlene realizes that it’s all a bit too convenient. All three of their boyfriends turned out to be jerks on the same night? And all three of them claim that they were set up? Could it be that someone is trying to destroy the happiness of the school’s cheerleaders? And could that person be the new cheerleading coach, Denise Evergreen (Emily Killian)!?
Well, I’m not going to spoil too much of the plot, other than to say that it’s full of twists and turns. It’s also full of plenty of inentionally humorous moments because Pom Poms and Payback is not a film that’s meant to be taken too seriously. It’s a film that’s meant to be fun and that means that we not only get a science experiment gone wrong (“Watch out for that rocket!”) but we also get a scene where a character is taken down by a cheerleader doing a flip in slow motion. Pom Poms and Payback is a film that was specifically made for those of us who have seen countless Lifetime cheerleader films and who know all of the usual plot points and tricks. Pom Poms and Payback pokes some affectionate fun at the genre. Consider it to be Lifetime’s gift to all of us loyal viewers.
Doug Campbell, who is responsible for some of the best films to ever air on Lifetime, directs with his customary flair and the entire film is full of enjoyably weird characters and details. Emily Killian has a lot of fun with the part of the scheming Coach Killian while Carrie Schroeder, playing the mother of one of the cheerleaders, brings a lot of conviction to her role. It’s a film that comments on the Lifetime cheerleader genre and which also finds time to include an important message of bullying. Be carful who you taunt because high school is not forever.