THELMA is one of the most enjoyable movies of the summer with much to say about how the elderly and young adults are infantilized in this coddling culture.  The plot involves one Thelma Post, a 93 year-old grandmother living on her own in L.A. when she is conned out of $10,000 by a phone scammer posing as her grandson claiming to have been arrested after an accident and in need of bail.

This  scam was actually attempted on me–except I am nobody’s grandma, so when the sleaze bag who phoned me identified himself as my grandson– I promptly swore at him and hung up. Thelma and many vulnerable seniors like her fall for it. Easy to see how. But soon, realizing she’s been scammed out of ten grand, Thelma– against all advice to the contrary– decides not to go gentle into that good night. Instead, she enlists the help of an elderly acquaintance and together they set out on his scooter to recoup her losses.

June Squibb, a 2014 Oscar nominee for NEBRASKA, finally gets her first starring feature film role here at age 94! Squibb is meta-marvelous embodying the film’s themes as a nonagenarian not to be underestimated, and, for the record, playing younger than her years. Her ally in this escapade is played by Richard Roundtree whom you may remember as SHAFT (“…the black private dick that’s a sex machine to all the chicks). THELMA would be Roundtree’s last feature film; he died before the film’s release at the age of 81 and leaves us with a sweet swan song. He plays Ben, Thelma’s “muscle” as they make their way through nighttime L.A. navigating assorted obstacles on their way to getting even with the no-good scammers who ripped Thelma off.  Thelma is the hothead of the pair and will not be deterred, while Ben is even-tempered and grounded in compassion; together they are a formidable duo.

There are no souped-up stunts and outrageous gags. You won’t find Thelma scaling a building or hanging from a plane. Instead, with the soundtrack blazing a la Mission Impossible, she takes a hair-raising trip through an antique store, gingerly picking her way through a minefield of delicate knickknacks and a downed lamp…! It’s funny because the action remains rooted in reality, Squibb’s unflinching wit, and Roundtree’s warmth. Some of their dialogue is priceless. When Ben asks Thelma if she knows how to use a gun, she replies, “How hard can it be? Idiots use them all the time.”

Written, directed, and edited by Josh Margolin, this geri-action revenge comedy also has other kinds of cliffhangers on its mind. Don’t get me wrong, the film sees this caper through to the end. Thelma finds a kindred soul and helpmate in her grandson Danny (Fred Hechinger) a 20-something still under the thumb of his neurotically controlling parents (Parker Posey and Clark Gregg). Dan lacks direction and confidence but ends up being instrumental to the outcome and he learns a lot in the process. Seniors Thelma and Ben have much to share about facing mortality, independence and agency, knowing when to accept genuine help, when to reject crippling assistance, and knowing when it’s time to strike out on your own.