Front Row at the Movies by Shirrel Rhoades


At the age of 94, June Squibb got her first leading role. In “Thelma,” she stars as a grandmother undertaking a Mission: Impossible kind of adventure.

A popular character actress, you’ve seen June Squibb in dozens of movies. Her first film role was in Woody Allen’s “Alice” (1990). Other appearances have included Martin Scorsese’s “The Age of Innocence” (1993), Alexander Payne’s “About Schmidt” (2002), and Todd Haynes’s “Far From Heaven” (2002). She was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actress for Alexander Payne’s “Nebraska.” Her TV credits include “Ghost Whisperer,” “Getting On,” and “Shameless.” And you can catch her voice in Pixar’s “Inside Out 2,” currently in theaters.

“Thelma” is based on a true story about director Josh Margolin’s own grandmother. The action comedy recounts how, after being duped by phone scammers, Thelma Post sets out to recover her lost $10,000.

With delightful allusions to Tom Cruise in his “Mission Impossible” movies, Thelma and her friend Ben get on his fancy motor scooter and head across Los Angeles to confront the bad guy. Many funny incidents happen along the way.

As one moviegoer describes it, “We see the titular badass take on many classic action movie tropes, including car chases, computer hacking, and even an explosion or two. Okay, the car chase is actually a scooter chase, and Thelma might not run as fast as Tom Cruise. But … its star was more than up to the task.”

“Thelma” is sprinkled with familiar faces: Richard Roundtree as Ben, Malcolm McDowell as Harvey, and Parker Posey as Gail. Fred Hechinger takes on the role of Thelma’s grandson.

You can catch “Thelma” at the Tropic Cinema.

June Squibb admits she didn’t expect to become an action star in her mid-90s. Becoming an on-screen daredevil means being “physically ready to do things that I hadn’t really done before, on film or anywhere.”

A few interesting factoids:

Nonagenarian June Squibb did most of her own stunts. “I loved it,” she says.

This was the final movie role for Richard Roundtree (“Shaft”), who passed away right before this film’s premiere at Sundance Film Festival.

And Josh Margolin’s grandmother, the real Thelma, is still alive at 103.

Let’s hear it for the elderly. I’d say 103 is the new 93.

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