Thelma: Delightfully Funny

I like different, especially in movies. I’m always looking for something that’s going to be entertaining but add a different point of view. When I heard about Thelma, I was excited because in this film, the main hero is an elderly woman. When I got the chance to watch the film, I found it as delightfully funny as I’d hoped with a brilliant twist on action films with a 93 year old woman as the star. Not only was it exciting and funny but the performances were excellent.

“Thelma” written and directed by Josh Margolin is a film about a 93 year old woman, Thelma Post (June Squibb), who gets conned out of money by a phone scammer pretending to be her grandson, Danny (Fred Hechinger). While her daughter Gail (Parker Posey) and son-in-law Alan (Clark Gregg) are more interested in keeping her safe, feisty Thelma wants her money back and embarks on a quest across Los Angeles accompanied by an aging friend, Ben (Richard Roundtree) and his scooter. 

One of the elements that makes this so different is the clever spin the film puts on films like Mission Impossible, shining a spotlight on an elderly woman as the unlikely action hero. It demonstrates that the elderly are capable of more than we expect and shows that even with aging there needs to be agency, respect and listening. While Thelma is not capable of getting up on her own, with assistance, she has the resources to do quite a lot and the feisty actress playing the part proves that over and over in this movie. Feisty Thelma is capable of taking care of business, no matter what her daughter, son-in-law or grandson think.

What makes this film so delightful is the comedy elements. There are subtle jokes, when Thelma tells Danny his father is too skinny but there are broader moments like a chase through a retirement center on a scooter. It is little things like Ben’s roommate from the center that they call starey Gary.  There are clever moments like when Thelma, who needs help with her computer at home, figures out how to connect her earring aid to her phone to create a microphone and silent way for her and Ben to communicate. It is the juxtaposition between Danny struggling with adulthood and his grandmother struggling with aging and not wanting to give up her independence. There are so many funny and delightful scenes in this film which you will probably appreciate a great deal if you have gotten older and dealt with things like bad knees or loss of mobility. 

What makes this better are the performances. In her first feature film, June Squibb plays Thelma with infectious humor, grit, and determination. She is perfect as Thelma, demonstrating a fiery, independent quality that is believable when she stands up to the con artist who took her money. The dynamic between her and Richard Roundtree is fantastic. They feel like old friends. Richard Roundtree is fantastic as Ben, solid and grounded, wanting to help and providing a different point of view on aging gracefully. June Squibb also has a dynamite dynamic with Fred Hechinger who plays Danny. They play off each other beautifully, adding rich humor and a loving quality. Fred Hechinger adds charm and is hilarious as Danny, especially when he realizes he’s lost his grandmother. Parker Posey and Clark Gregg are excellent as well, adding their own elements of comedy to the film.

There is very little that weighs this film down. The action scenes are brilliant in how they handle aging and I love the way physical limitations are handled in the movie. But the movie does take a little bit of time to set up and while that gives us time to get to know Thelma, it is a bit slower in the first half of the film. The movie ends on an explosive note and I do love how everything comes together.

If you like comedies, especially ones that put a new spin on action films and tackle aging with agency, this is the film for you. If you’ve ever had a bad knee or even a bad day, you can sympathize with Thelma and all of us wonder what will happen as we get older. The movie is delightfully funny, June Squibb is hilarious and feisty as Thelma, Richard Roundtree is grounded and funny as Ben with Fred Hechinger perfectly cast as Danny. Parker Posey and Clark Gregg are excellent as Danny’s parents, and the rest of the cast is fantastic. I laughed along with Thelma’s wild ride the entire way through the film.

Rating: 4 out of 5 earring aids. 

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