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In Theaters


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Bob Hoose

Movie Review

When you hit a certain age, your eyes don’t see as well, your ears don’t hear as well, your body and brain don’t connect as well.

Thelma is painfully aware of all that. Just sorting through her fistfuls of daily prescription pills for her high blood pressure and peripheral neuropathy, her this and her that, is a constant reminder that the old machine ain’t working like it used to. And on top of all that, losing her husband a few years back has left her a little lonely, too.

But Thelma is doing all right, thank you very much. At 93 she’s still mobile. She takes care of her own house. She has a loving relationship with her grandson, Danny. She navigates her world pretty well for a nonagenarian, and she’s actually very happy. But sometimes … all the negative things about growing old come rushing in.

She was recently fooled by scammers, for instance.

When her grandson called and said he was in jail for a car accident, Thelma accepted that news as being totally true. Sure, his voice sounded a bit strange. But Danny said that it was because he broke his nose when he hit a pregnant woman’s car. (Oh, that poor woman!) And then Danny’s lawyer called to say it was imperative to pull together $10,000 (in cash) if Thelma didn’t want Danny to go to prison. (Oh, my. No, no, no.)

What would any loving and lightly panicked grandmother do but quickly pull the cash together? And then quickly mail it. By the time Danny showed up to say he was OK, and he hadn’t been in an accident, well, the whole family knew of Thelma’s mistake. They all sighed. They all shook their heads.

Then Thelma overheard them saying that she wasn’t really capable of being on her own any longer; she wasn’t sharp enough, she needed care and watching.

That was the last straw.

Thelma may not be as sharp as she once was. But she’s still got plenty of edge to her. I mean, look at that Tom Cruise person, she notes. He’s not that many years younger than she is, and he’s still leaping off rooftops and riding motorcycles off mountain peaks in his Mission: Impossible movies.

If he can do that, then Thelma can find these scammer people and get her money back. She still has the address she mailed her package to, after all. When she fixes her mistake, she can prove that she doesn’t need to be chaperoned in some old folk’s home.

She’ll simply need some snacks, a little travel cash, a few Depends (for emergencies), oh, and a gun. Yes, they always wave a gun around in movies, and people pay attention. She can work all that out.

Thelma will make it happen. It’s her … Mission: Possible! That’ll show ‘em.

Positive Elements

Thelma is willing to go to any length to keep her grandson safe. And Danny feels pretty much the same about her. The twentysomething visits her often, spends evenings with her and gives her an emergency alert wrist band. When Thelma goes missing (on her quest to redeem herself), Danny blames himself for not watching her more carefully. And he does everything he can to bring her home. The two ultimately express their love for one another.

Frankly, blame for the scam on Thelma falls at least partially on her family members who fail to pick up when she attempts to call about Danny’s supposed incarceration. She fears that in the heat of the moment, she is his only source of help.

Danny has never been very successful at anything. And after Thelma goes missing, he thinks himself hopeless. But there are several people in his corner (including Thelma and Danny’s ex-girlfriend), and they encourage him to move forward. They note his admirable qualities as a good and caring man.

Thelma connects with an old friend, Ben, to borrow his electric scooter for transportation. And though reluctant, Ben decides to help her in her quest as a protective measure.

Spiritual Elements


Sexual Content

Danny’s mom wears a silky camisole top that clings to her curves.

Violent Content

Thelma sneaks into a friend’s room and steals the woman’s pistol. Then she drops it, and it fires into a room several floors below, smashing a vase. Later she pulls the gun on a man and shoots several times into a computer.

Ben’s scooter gets hit by a speeding vehicle and demolished. A cigarette tossed into a trash bin causes a discarded oxygen tank to explode.

While walking alone in the dark, Thelma takes a nasty, face-first fall and can’t get back up. She lies there incapacitated until someone comes by to help her. Later we see that the fall caused a dark bruise around her eye.

A male scammer threatens Thelma and slaps her phone out of her hand.

Several lamps are destroyed, a cockroach is smashed underfoot. Danny drives dangerously, careening through traffic.

Crude or Profane Language

We hear three f-words and three s-words, along with a half-dozen uses of “b—ch,” and several uses each of “a–” and “d–n.” God’s and Jesus’ names are both misused a total of nine times (with “God” being combined with “d–n” twice).

Drug and Alcohol Content

It appears that Thelma takes a long list of prescription drugs on a regular basis. (We see her sorting out her pills.) We also hear from someone that she’s dealt with breast cancer and a brain tumor in the past.

A man Thelma meets smokes several cigarettes, even though he’s on an oxygen feed. Danny talks about going out with friends and getting drunk enough that he doesn’t answer his phone in an emergency.

Other Negative Elements

The film makes it appear that the police are either incapable of helping defrauded seniors or just uncaring about their plight.

Thelma lies and steals in the course of her quest. She also makes some foolish and dangerous choices that the movie, for the most part, forgives without critiquing.

Danny’s parents tend to play the role of overprotective “helicopter parents” with both Danny and Thelma.


Actress June Squibb has been gracing stage and screen for a good long time. And now she gets her first lead role in a film at the young age of 94. Squibb hits her marks and cues with the seamless poise of a pro and delivers her punchlines with aplomb, but her film … isn’t always so graceful.

Don’t get me wrong, Thelma has some very nice, and at times tender, thoughts to share about family, the elderly, and the inevitable changes that come with age. But frankly, the whole doesn’t equal the parts.

Writer/director Josh Margolin attempts to make his protagonist’s get-the-scammers quest into something, uh, cute. But it becomes a silly fantasy adventure pic that tends to clash with June Squibb’s and Richard Roundtree’s earnest characterizations. And then when you lacquer everything with a coating of completely unnecessary crude language (including three f-bombs in a PG-13 movie!) the whole thing feels a bit out of sync.

Maybe it just needed more grandmotherly good sense.

It’s too bad, too. This could have been a film that family audiences would enjoy and mull over instead of one they’ll likely, and wisely avoid.

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Bob Hoose

After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.