Movie Review: "Matilda"
Rating: PG (mild language)
Length: 98 minutes
Release date: Aug. 2, 1996
Directed by: Danny DeVito
"Matilda" is a 1996 film based on the novel of the same name by Roald Dahl. "Matilda" follows the life of its eponymous character, a brilliant little girl with extraordinary powers. Matilda is a genius who proves to be ravenous for knowledge, unlike her dull and cantankerous family. Matilda is raised by a lazy mother, a belligerent father who constantly puts her down, and an older brother who hates everything educational. Matilda is kept home from school until the age of six, but she satisfies her thirst for knowledge by making daily trips to the local library. The kindly librarian gives her a library card and sets her on her journey to acquire as much knowledge about the world as possible.
At the age of six, the neglected Matilda is finally sent to a decaying school run by a cruel and aggressive principal named Trunchbull. The principal singles Matilda out, threatened by her love of learning and sweet spirit. In an effort to cope with the cruelty of the authority figures in her life, Matilda begins to develop her latent psychic abilities. She soon realizes that she can use telekinetic powers to thwart her parents and her principal, causing plenty of antics.
In the midst of all the chaos, Matilda finds love and guidance from her teacher, Miss Honey. Miss Honey is a warm soul who nurtures Matilda's potential and encourages her love of education. She proves to be Matilda's only ally in a world of adults and peers who don't understand her special gifts. When Matilda is accused of something she didn't do, her powers come to the surface and she lashes out at the cruel principal. The incident sets plenty of chaos into motion, and Matilda is forced to learn how to control her powers and use them to change her life.
"Matilda" is a heartwarming children's story that easily translates to the big screen thanks to Danny DeVito's stellar directing. The film uses just the right amount of special effects combined with a quirky and nostalgic setting to create a world as believable as it is captivating. Matilda's world may be full of opposition and misunderstanding, but it is also full of love and wonder. Matilda herself is a remarkable person who must learn to cope with her even more remarkable circumstances. The film is inspirational and does not shy away from tough topics such as neglect and verbal abuse. "Matilda" is heartbreaking at times, but it always manages to pull off every twist on a hopeful and optimistic note.
"Matilda" is a solid interpretation of Roald Dahl's novel, carrying through on all the book's major themes and concepts. Matilda is a warm and endearing character, and her family is just as fun to have onscreen as they are in print. The cinematography makes the most of Matilda's strange abilities, bringing magic to life in a way that still feels modern and exciting more than a decade later. The soundtrack is charming and helps to set the atmosphere of the film without overwhelming the story.
A young Mara Wilson steals the show as Matilda, delivering a surprisingly rich performance for her young age. Danny DeVito's narration holds the film together and keeps things moving at a steady pace, making "Matilda" fun and easy to watch. While it may be tempting to assume that "Matilda" is another whimsical children's movie, the film transcends its genre and appeals to viewers of all ages. It more than earns its place as a classic family film with a timeless story, solid acting, and a script that strikes the perfect balance between humor and drama.
"Matilda" has gained cult status for good reason. The film may be full of drama and magic, but it also has its fair share of comedy. Some of Matilda's antics at school and at home will have viewers laughing out loud. Her family is terrible, but the actors deliver their lines with deadpan precision, making them as fun to watch as they are to hate. Viewers will relate to Matilda's struggle to find herself and make the most of the gifts she has been given while fitting into a world that doesn't quite understand her. Elementary school is tough for kids from all backgrounds, but Matilda faces challenges and obstacles like none other. For anyone who wants to indulge in a delightful family film that tugs at the heartstrings and challenges the imagination, it's hard to go wrong with "Matilda."
Rating: 3 out of 5