Thelma (2024) Review

By Allison Rose   X Formly Known as Twitter
3 Min Read

Thelma balances humor and vulnerability, offering an insightful view of senior struggles. Margolin's direction blends honesty and well-placed humor seamlessly.

Thelma (2024) Review

According to the Federal Trade Commission, people lost over $10 billion to scammers in 2023 with the average loss being approximately $410 per person.  This represents an increase of 14% from 2022 with investment scams being the biggest culprit of stolen money.  Retirees are the largest group to be scammed and often lose 3 times as much as the average person.  Despite warnings to watch out for scams, the perpetrators often use emotional pleas to trick unsuspecting individuals to part with their hard-earned money and once it has been sent it is often difficult to catch these criminals and get their money back. 

Thelma (June Squibb; Nebraska) lives alone after her husband of 70 years passed away.  She moves a little slower, doesn't understand technology, and has outlived most of her friends.  Her grandson, Daniel (Fred Hechinger; The Pale Blue Eye), comes over to visit and teaches Thelma to search the web.  One day Thelma receives a frantic phone call from Daniel saying he is in jail, and he was in an accident and hit a pregnant lady.  Suddenly an attorney gets on the line and tells Thelma she needs to send him $10,000 to hire him to take Daniel's case. 

After she sends the money, Thelma finds out it is a scam and she overhears her family discussing how she can't live alone anymore.  However, Thelma is determined to get her money back so she finds the P.O. Box address she sent the money to and, with the help of her friend, Ben (Richard Roundtree; Shaft) and his scooter, she stakes out the P.O. Box until she finds the guy who stole her money.  Along the way, she learns some things about herself, her family, and her friends and growing older.

Squibb was 93 when she filmed this movie and, other than a mobility issue or two, she proves growing older doesn't grow stagnant.  She portrays Thelma as a feisty, intelligent grandma who is just as likely to bake you cookies as she is to clock you over the head with a frying pan.  The banter between her and Roundtree is classic buddy comedy fodder and they pull it off with ease and charm that comes with experience.  Hechinger, as Thelma's grandson, along with Parker Posey (Scream 3) and Clark Gregg (The Avengers) as her daughter and son-in-law are their own comedy routine and are a joy to watch as they freak out when Thelma and Ben "disappear".

Writer/director Josh Margolin (Deep Murder) obviously fashioned Thelma after his grandmother, which becomes apparent in the end credits role.  This story, while one can only assume is fictional, is a love letter to a very special woman making the project deeply personal and requiring him to take special care of the story.  He does so beautifully, with grace and humor.  He showcases Squibb and Roundtree without sacrificing any of the plot or the jokes.  Said jokes are also witty and intelligent proving that he sees the elderly as strong and vibrant instead of weak.

Thelma teeters on the edge between stupid funny, weakness, vulnerability, and strong, creative, and well-placed humor and Margolin navigates that chasm expertly to create an honest, and insightful view of senior citizens and their struggles.  Squibb's performance is genius and inspired and is a testament to her many years as an actor that she can play much more than the batsh@t crazy, old grandma that smells like moth balls and arthritis cream.

While Thelma might not appeal to younger audiences, per se, it should be mandatory watching for anyone over 35 years of age, as well as to serve as a warning to all the scammers out there.  G'ma is coming to find you and sink her dentures in with the intent to kill you.

Grade: A-


Cast:
Directed By:
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 97 minutes
Distributed By: Magnolia Pictures

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For more information about Thelma visit the FlickDirect Movie Database. For more reviews by Allison Rose please click here.

Thelma images are courtesy of Magnolia Pictures. All Rights Reserved.


FlickDirect, Allison   Rose

Allison Rose, a Senior Correspondent and Critic at FlickDirect, is a dynamic presence in the entertainment industry with a communications degree from Hofstra University. She brings her film expertise to KRMS News/Talk 97.5 FM and broadcast television, and is recognized as a Tomatometer-Approved Critic. Her role as an adept event moderator in various entertainment industry forums underscores her versatility. Her affiliations with SEFCA, the Florida Film Critics Circle, and the Online Film Critics Society highlight her as an influential figure in film criticism and media.




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