I feel like this movie is hugely responsible for a big part of my personality. I'm a major book worm, even as a kid I loved reading books and turning pages and just having them with me. I think this was because of Matilda. I mean, what little girl doesn't secretly hope for some kind of special bond with the spunky heroine of a movie? But it's not just the book worm thing that stuck with me. Some of the songs used in this song will come back to me at weird intervals of my life and bring a smile to my face, and this movie always makes me want pancakes. Even though I hate pancakes. If you haven't guessed by now, Matilda is infectiously magical in many ways.
Born to Harry (Danny DeVito) and Zinnia (Rhea Perlman) Wormwood, young Matilda (Mara Wilson) always knew that fitting into her family wasn't something that would be easy for her. Her dad Harry was a sleazy car salesman who sold barely functioning cars at ridiculously inflated prices and her mom Zinnia only left the house to play bingo. Her parents and her older brother pretty much go about their lives as though Matilda wasn't there, but in a way this helped her greatly. From the age of 2, the young girl learned how to take care of herself - dress, bathe, even cook for herself! But that's not all Matilda learned to do.
Matilda is a rather extraordinary young girl!
On top of knowing how to make pancakes and properly dress herself, Matilda also taught herself how to read. She read everything in the house that she could get her hands on, which didn't take long. And that was when Matilda started going to the library after the rest of her family left the house for the day. She walked 10 blocks, pulling her little red wagon behind her, and on each trip she filled it to the brim with all kinds of books to read. Yes, Matilda loved her books and she loved to learn - but none of these things could cover up the fact that she felt so terribly alone. She had no friends and no one she could talk to. But that was soon about to change.
Having recently sold a rather unstable car to a woman who acted as principal for a local elementary school, Matilda was gained admission to the school as part of her father's sales agreement. Matilda is overjoyed at the idea of being in a real learning environment and being able to make friends - it's going to be a dream come true! And then she arrives at the school called Crunchem Hall. The building is dark and creepy looking, which is a direct reflection of the wicked woman who runs it. The principal Ms. Trunchbull (Pam Ferris) is a vengeful woman who hates children, she loves punishing them and tormenting them. Upon meeting her Matilda is terrified that her teacher will be just as wicked and frightening. And then she meets Miss Honey.
With a principal this evil, could any of the teachers be nice? Here's hoping!
Miss Honey (Embeth Davidtz) is the complete opposite of Ms. Trunchbull, she is kind and good and loves teaching and the children she gets to work with. Matilda instantly loves her and wants to do all she can to stand out in her eyes. And Miss Honey instantly recognizes Matilda's incredible gifts for learning and her genius mind - she wants nothing more than to see this brilliant young girl succeed! Matilda excels in her classes, and Miss Honey gives her private reading assignments that are more on her freakishly advanced reading level. But all is not roses. Matilda has a difficult time blending in during Ms. Trunchbull's rants and is often singled out when she tries to stand up for her friends who are being picked on. And that is how Matilda discovers that she has magical powers! In order to defend the people she cares about, she uses her anger toward these mean people to make objects around her move. And she plans to drive Ms. Trunchbull away by using them and freeing everyone at Cruchem Hall from her reign of terror!
With the help of her friends and Miss Honey, Matilda is taking the Trunchbull down!
This movie is probably the first indicator in my life that I have a love for kitschy things - the set designs, music choices, and filming style of this movie all come together to create a super fun retro style that I love! The characters are over the top but still wildly fun for both children and adults. Fans of Roald Dahl's other stories that have been turned into movies like James and the Giant Peach, and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory will absolutely LOVE Matilda. And if you're like me and used to love this movie growing up, I recommend revisiting it. Now that I'm all grown up, I feel like I appreciate it even more now!
I'm happy to have this movie in my life again. Now let's make pancakes.