Thelma Movie Review

“Thelma” is wonderful picture of a confident and energetic geriatric. That is, older retired lady who decides that getting older does not mean she will get dumber. When she is scammed over the phone for a lot of money — her ‘Tom Cruise’ overdrive kicks in. She teams up with an old friend to trade in her needlepoint — so she can hold her adversaries at gun point….


Thelma Post (played by June Squibb) is an independent senior citizen. In her early nineties, she is still feisty and full of vim and vinegar. She lost her husband a few years ago, and she has lost touch with many of her friends over the past years. She enjoys the time that she has with her grandson Danny (played by Fred Hechinger). He is in his early twenties, and he is ‘between jobs’ and ‘between girlfriends’. But he spends as much time with Thelma as he can.


Thelma’s daughter Gail (played by Parker Posey) and her son-in-law Alan (played by Clark Gregg) are an overly anxious couple who worry constantly. They hover over Thelma as if she is some little fragile porcelain statue. They hound Danny to get employed and get settled down. They worry that Thelma might take a tumble and could break something. Thelma always rolls her eyes at them, because she knows she wears sensible shoes. The last thing that Thelma wants is to get moved into ‘retirement housing’…


Thelma has gotten some instructions on how to use her computer from Danny. Of course, none of that sticks. So, he always needs to come over again to fix something or show her something. But one day there is a frantic call from ‘Danny’. But that call comes from an unknown number. And that does not sound like Danny — so who is it? This unknown phone ‘Danny’ says he has been in a bad car accident. He broke his nose, and perhaps quite a few laws.


There is another call from an unknown number. This other guy now says that Danny is in jail, and the only way for him to get out is if Thelma does something. She can get ten thousand dollars cash, and put it in an envelope and mail it to this Post Office box on the other side of town. She can do that right? Otherwise ‘Danny’ could stay in jail for some time. Thelma is a panic. She calls her daughter Gail — no answer. She calls Alan — no answer. She calls Danny’s phone — he does not pick up.


For some reason, the big red warning flag that says ‘this is a scam’ does not pop up into Thelma’s head. All she can think about is how she can collect all that money from in her house, and put it in the mail for a way to get ‘Danny’ out of jail. She has the address of where to send the envelope. She knows it is over on the seedy part of town. But all she wants to know her grandson will be safe and out of jail. Once she gets out of the Post Office and has mailed the thick envelope of cash, she gets a call from Danny. He has been sleeping in and just saw that she called.


Gail and Alan are upset — not at Thelma — but at someone who would pull this awful scam on such a nice old lady. Danny feels a little bad, because if he had answered his phone — Thelma might have figured out the call was a scam. Gail and Alan think that this might be the final straw that will force Thelma to go to an assisted living place. But Thelma has come up with an alternative plan. All she needs now is someone to help her out. She gets out her cell phone and dials up all of her friends.


But she finds out that most are passed away, in the hospital, in long-term nursing care — or even moved to Cleveland! But there is one old friend that she might call on. And this fellow has just what she needs — a bright red electric-powered mobility scooter. Good old Ben (played by Richard Roundtree) is happy at his new ‘retirement housing’ center. He has some new friends, some nice food at the cafeteria, and a starring role in a retirement center play. Ben is willing to have Thelma come over and see the new place. Thelma has eyes on the bright red scooter.


Thelma gets Danny to driver her over to visit Ben. She is not interested in the all the new things that Ben has to show her at the center. She is focused on the red scooter, and she sees it as the only way to ‘seedy part of town’ where the person has her money. This is a visit about how to get even. She explains all this to Ben. He is not gonna let her take his brand new baby. After all, with that shiny new scooter — Ben is now the most popular guy around the center. He has become a real ‘Babe Magnet’.


Thelma and Ben are off on a rescue mission. They are off to rescue Thelma’s money from the nasty scam phone man who is in the ‘seedy part of town’. But they forgot that Danny drove Thelma over to see Ben. Danny is not able to find Thelma, or to find Ben. Now he is worried, and that means Gail and Alan are worried. That means the worry-wart meter has been turned up to 11.


Thelma and Ben make one stop at an old friend’s house. This old lady has an old revolver. Nice thing to have when you want to get your dough back. They get further and further into the ‘seedy part of town’. Ben gets upset and Thelma will not budge. The bright red scooter has a little mishap. They part ways, and Thelma must travel by herself. She is making good time, as long as she doesn’t trip and fall down.


But Ben is back and he and Thelma locate the ‘nasty scam phone man’. There’s an old guy named Harvey (played by Malcolm McDowell). You know he is rotten to the core because he yells at his grandson and smokes a cigarette — while he has an oxygen tube in his nose. Thelma reads him the riot act, and she gets Harvey to fork over his online banking info. She gets her way, as she always knew she would.



“Thelma” is joyful look at a determined lady who does not her age slow her down. She is a super-positive woman with a enough smarts that she is able to outfox a scammer. The basic story is based on something that happened to Josh Margolin’s grandmother. He took the basic tale, perhaps embellished a little bit, and gives it lot of affection and love.


June Squibb (as Thelma) is an excellent person to play such a spunky lady. She embodies the “go get ‘em” spirit of Thelma. She teams up with Richard Roundtree (as Ben). Sadly, this was Roundtree’s final screen appearance. But he also gives a tremendous amount of spirit to his role.


“Thelma” is a great movie to see to pick up your spirits and give you a good appreciation for the inner strength and resources that a senior citizen can bring to the table. See it with your Grandma!


Written and Directed by: Josh Margolin
Starring: June Squibb, Fred Hechinger, Richard Roundtree, Parker Posey, Clark Gregg, Malcolm McDowell
Cinematography: David Bolen
Edited by: Josh Margolin
Music by: Nick Chuba
Distributed by: Magnolia Pictures
Release date: June 21, 2024
Length: 97 minutes
MPAA rating: PG-13 for strong language
Genre: Comedy


Rating contributor: JMcNaughton tmc

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