‘Thelma’ is ‘Shaft in the Rest Home’ – Review

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Yes, ‘Thelma‘ is a June Squibb movie, but we have to honor the late Richard Roundtree in his final film of elderly action comedy in theaters Friday, June 21, 2024.

Thelma‘ is an elderly action comedy with a beautiful 1970s inspired theme that could have easily been titled, ‘Shaft in the Rest Home‘ in honor of the late Richard Roundtree in his final on-screen performance. Catching an early screening at the Orange County Film Society, this was the perfect movie to watch with film fans.

Writer and Director, Josh Margolin gave us everything we wanted and expected in this semi-autobiographical, 97-minute flick that hit every beat we expect when Thelma (June Squibb) an elderly widow is taken advantage of via a scam call duplicating her grandson, Daniel’s (Fred Hechinger) claiming he hit a pregnant woman, landing him jail. A “lawyer” named Harvey (Malcolm McDowell) claiming that he needed $10,000 in cash sent to a P.O. Box in the San Fernando Valley…ironically, as I wrote this description, a scam call came through saying my business was approved for $110,000 business loan.

Once Thelma gets ahold of her daughter Gail (Parker Posey) and son-in-law Alan (Clark Gregg), who all realize Daniel was sleeping at the time the scam took place, our soon to be favorite nana takes to the streets with the help of her friend Ben (Roundtree) and his trusty two-person scooter, as they will stop at nothing…except to charge up every 45 miles, in getting her money back from the reached scammer.

“My grandma refuses to die. She just turned 103 and has survived the Great Depression, WWII, the death of her husband, a double mastectomy, colon cancer, a valve replacement and an ongoing but allegedly-benign brain tumor. So, when she got duped by phone scammers a few years ago (and nearly sent them thousands of dollars for my “bail”), it pierced my long-standing belief that she was somehow infallible. A belief that brought me some kind of undue comfort throughout my own anxious existence. The inevitability of losing her has become increasingly real to me, and so has her dogged persistence to hold on to her sense of self, as her body and mind stubbornly slow,” wrote in a statement made by Margolin on the time his grandmother was almost scammed regarding his alleged arrest.

Ben and Thelma do all they can to get back Thelma’s money by out smarting her Gen X daughter and her Gen Z grandson by playing on their notions of her being old and decrepit; a true advantage the elderly have when manipulating the younger generation.

As ‘Thelma‘ is Margolin’s directorial debut, the future looks bright for this filmmaker, especially in the action comedy genre. Even in seeing all the foreshadowing and joke set ups, as soon as they landed, audience members will still laugh, enjoying the humor as well as the 1970s and 1980s style of visual storytelling.

Thelma‘ is everything you would expect and more when a nana sets her mind to something and needs to complete a task. It is also a reminder that the west has lost sight in the value our elders offer us and that we need to respect them for not only the wisdom the impart on us, but with grandma, you wouldn’t be here.

Thelma‘ comes to theaters Friday, June 21, 2024 from Magnolia Pictures.

If you are in the Orange County, CA area and would like to join the Orange County Film Society, visit their website at www.ocfilmsociety.com for more details.

4

Summary

Thelma‘ is predictably humorous that reminds you of two things: 1) Don’t mess with nana, and 2) Call your grandmother while you still have the chance! Mr. Roundtree, you are missed and we are thrill that this was your final film.

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