Director: Danny DeVito

Starring: Mara Wilson, Embeth Davidtz, Danny DeVito

Year: 1996

Roald Dahl books adapt into films with shocking ease; I’m not sure what author could say the same.  Stephen King is the best writer I’ve ever come across, but his novels make terrible movies, at least usually, and I’m not sure what that says about the intricacies of his stories, perhaps that they are just too thick to change into any other format.  Anyway, Dahl doesn’t seem to have that problem, probably because his stories are so simple; a child character has an adventure and it comes to a happy ending, that’s it.  His books are so magical, they translate to the screen so well, and I’m always happy to revisit a VHS or DVD from my childhood with his stamp on it.  Matilda is no different, a fun time had by all in a matter of minutes, and another chance to bring Dahl to life.

Matilda Wormwood doesn’t exactly fit into her family.  Her father is a ratty used car salesman, her mother only enjoys bingo, and her brother is simply following in the footsteps of his unimaginative parents.  Matilda loves books, and at an early age realizes that they are a way to transport her out of her stifling existence into lands of mystery and entertainment.  She can read books much over her level, Charles Dickens is her favorite, and even before she enters school she’s showing signs of incredible genius.  She can even move objects with her mind, a power she discovers when confronted by her terrible principle The Trunchbull, who is the exact opposite of Matilda’s sweet teacher Ms. Honey, the only adult who understands her aptitude.

Mara Wilson is like, the cutest kid ever.  I adored her in Mrs. Doubtfire, and she’s just as wonderful in Matilda; I don’t know how one child can be so great.  She didn’t really go on to do much other acting, and I don’t know her childhood fame story, I just hope it wasn’t a disaster.  Apart from Dahl and Wilson, DeVito deserves a lot of credit, as he directed, starred in, and narrated the film, so his hand is all over it.  And he did a great job, it’s a classic adaptation, one that also takes a little license in creating a style all its own.  I don’t know if I’d call Matilda the best Dahl movie I’ve ever seen, but it’s no slouch, and it’s definitely worth the time to sit down and watch with the fam.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆



By ochippie

Writer, Critic, Dad Columbus, Ohio, USA Denver Broncos, St. Louis Cardinals Colorado Avalanche, Duke Blue Devils