Matilda (1996 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Danny DeVito|
|Produced by||Danny DeVito
|Screenplay by||Nicholas Kazan
by Roald Dahl
|Narrated by||Danny DeVito|
|Music by||David Newman|
|Editing by||Lynzee Klingman
|Distributed by||TriStar Pictures|
|Running time||98 minutes|
|Box office||$61,405,356 (USA, Japan, Italy, UK, and Spain)|
Matilda is a 1996 American fantasy film directed by Danny DeVito, based on the novel of the same name by Roald Dahl. The film was released by TriStar Pictures on August 2, 1996 and stars Danny DeVito, Rhea Perlman, Embeth Davidtz, Pam Ferris and Mara Wilson as the title character.
Matilda Wormwood (Mara Wilson) is an extremely intelligent girl with a bright personality from an early age, but her spiteful and ignorant parents, Harry (Danny DeVito) and Zinnia (Rhea Perlman), neglect and even mistreat her. When Matilda reaches four, she discovers the local library and walks there every day to read while her family is out, much to the amusement of the librarian, Mrs. Phelps (Jean Speegle Howard), who then gives Matilda a library card.
By the age of six, Matilda begins to lose patience with her parents. In retaliation for her father belittling her, she mixes his hair tonic with her mother's hair dye. Harry later takes his family to his workshop, where he reveals that the cars he sells are actually faulty and irresponsibly managed. Matilda accuses him openly, he belittles her again and Matilda retaliates against her father again by putting super-glue on his hat which he struggles to get off, forcing Zinnia to cut it off. Harry then belittles Matilda again for reading while her family is watching television. As Harry tries to force her to watch with them, Matilda grows very angry and the television suddenly explodes.
One of Harry's clients, Agatha Trunchbull (Pam Ferris), is the sadistic headmistress of a run-down school, Crunchem Hall. Harry enrolls Matilda in the school, where she befriends several children, but at the same time, learns, especially from Lavender Brown (Kiami Davael) and Hortensia (Kira Spencer Hesser), of Miss Trunchbull's nature and her particularly harsh punishments towards the students, such as the dreaded "Chokey", throwing students out of windows and forcing a boy who stole her slice of chocolate cake to eat a whole chocolate cake in front of the entire student body to make him sick (though he finishes the cake without getting sick). Fortunately, Matilda's teacher, Miss Jennifer Honey (Embeth Davidtz), is a kind and lovely woman who adores her pupils and takes an immediate liking to Matilda for her intellect. Miss Honey speaks with Miss Trunchbull and requests that Matilda be moved up to a higher class. Miss Honey pays Matilda's parents a visit and requests that they pay more attention to their daughter, but they refuse to listen, effectively making Miss Honey the only person who truly understands Matilda. Meanwhile, Matilda discovers that she and her family are under FBI surveillance, because of her father's shady dealings, and purchasing of stolen goods and car parts, but her parents refuse to believe her, the FBI agents having already fooled them into thinking they are speedboat salesmen.
Sometime later, Miss Trunchbull goes to Matilda's class for a weekly "check-up" and starts to belittle the students. As a prank, Lavender places a newt in Miss Trunchbull's water jug to frighten her. Miss Trunchbull, however, accuses Matilda, and Matilda's rage at the injustice leads to her telekinetically tipping the glass over and splashing the water and the newt onto Miss Trunchbull, frightening her. Feeling sympathy for Matilda, Miss Honey invites her to her house for tea. On the way, they pass Miss Trunchbull's house, and Miss Honey reveals her secret to Matilda: when she was two years old, her mother died, so her father, a doctor, invited his wife’s stepsister, Miss Trunchbull, to live with them and look after Miss Honey while her father was at work. However, Miss Trunchbull mistreated and abused her niece at every opportunity. When Miss Honey was five, her father died of an apparent suicide and in his will, he left all of his assets to Miss Trunchbull, leaving his daughter with nothing. Eventually, Miss Honey moved out of her aunt’s house into a small cottage she rented from a local farmer. Matilda and Miss Honey briefly sneak into Miss Trunchbull's house while she is out, but her unexpected return leads to a cat-and-mouse chase with Matilda and Miss Honey only barely escaping unseen.
When Matilda's telekinetic powers manifest again during when Zinnia and Harry argue, to which Matilda slams the door in Harry's face, Matilda trains herself to use her ability at her own will, and her first act was sabotaging the FBI agents' vehicle during their attempt to search Harry's garage without a warrant. That night, Matilda returns to Miss Trunchbull's house, and from outside, wreaks havoc in an attempt to scare Miss Trunchbull away. Miss Trunchbull almost flees in terror, but she finds Matilda's ribbon in the process and realizes that she was there. The next day, Miss Trunchbull visits Matilda's class again to get Matilda to admit her guilt, but as she begins belittling the children again, Matilda uses her powers to write a message on the blackboard, posing as the ghost of Miss Honey's father accusing Miss Trunchbull of murdering him and ordering her to leave town. Miss Trunchbull is driven insane by the terror and attacks the students, but Matilda keeps them out of harm's way with her powers and the students then force Miss Trunchbull out of the school by pelting her with food and garbage until she leaves. Miss Honey's father's true will is discovered by the police, which named Miss Honey as the sole beneficiary of her father's assets, and Miss Honey moves back into her home, with Matilda visiting frequently.
Sometime later, however, the FBI finally uncovers enough evidence to prosecute Harry, and they prepare to flee to Guam. They stop by Miss Honey's house to take Matilda with them, but she refuses to accompany them, claiming she wants to stay with Miss Honey, who admits that she has come to see Matilda as the daughter she never had. In that moment, Harry and Zinnia then state that Matilda was the only daughter they had ever had and never understood, but they decide to let Miss Honey adopt her by signing the adoption papers, this time on good terms with her. Harry, Zinnia and Michael escape, while Matilda lives a happy life with Miss Honey.
- Mara Wilson as Matilda Wormwood
- Alissa and Amanda Graham, Trevor and James Gallagher as Matilda - newborn
- Kayla and Kelsey Fredericks as Matilda - 9 months
- Amanda and Caitlin Fein as Matilda - toddler
- Sara Magdalin as Matilda - 4 years
- Danny DeVito as Harry Wormwood/Narrator
- Rhea Perlman as Zinnia Wormwood
- Embeth Davidtz as Miss Jennifer Honey
- Brian Levinson as Michael Wormwood
- Nicholas Cox as Michael - 6 Years
- Pam Ferris as Agatha Trunchbull
- Paul Reubens as FBI Agent Bob
- Tracey Walter as FBI Agent Bill
- Kiami Davael as Lavender
- Jacqueline Steiger as Amanda Thripp
- Kira Spencer Hesser as Hortensia
- Jimmy Karz as Bruce Bogtrotter
- Jean Speegle Howard as Mrs. Phelps
- Marion Dugan as Cookie
- Emily Eby as Maggie
- Jon Lovitz as Mickey on The Million Dollar Sticky (uncredited)
||This section may contain original research. (May 2012)|
The film is with the exception of the antagonist a modernized and Americanized version of Roald Dahl's novel of eight years earlier. Various plot points are shortened or removed, while new details and sequences are added.
- In the film, Matilda's father destroys the library book Moby Dick by Herman Melville along with saying that the book is garbage, while in the novel, the book he destroys is The Red Pony by John Steinbeck out of pure malice as he thinks American authors are morally bankrupt.
- In the film, Matilda’s brother is turned from an ordinary boy into a bullying child, and her mother shows some humanity by giving her away because she is better suited to a life with Miss Honey, while in the novel, both parents drop her without a second thought.
- In the novel, Matilda can no longer use her powers after the incident with Miss Trunchbull, which Miss Honey believes is because she is in advanced classes and is too busy to summon the concentration to use the powers. In the film, she still has them in the end, but almost never uses them.
- The scene of a boy being thrown out of the window by Ms. Trunchbull in the film shows that he was eating two M&M's chocolate candies during a literature class while the novel says that he was eating Liquorice allsorts during a Bible study class.
- In the novel, the chokey is a cupboard with glass sticking out the walls and nails sticking through the door and is only described by Hortensia. In the film, the chokey was a hole in the wall with nails and glass sticking out through the door and though Hortensia describes it just like in the novel, Matilda is placed there once by Trunchbull (which never happened in the novel).
- At the end of the film, Miss Honey is made the new principal after Miss Trunchbull vanishes, while the novel reveals that the job goes to Mr. Trilby, the sympathetic Deputy Head, who has a minor role in the novel and does not appear in the film at all.
- The sub-plot about Mr. Wormwood's shady deals landing him in trouble with the police is hardly mentioned at all in the novel, but in the film, it is expanded and built upon; Matilda notices the two FBI agents spying on them and repeatedly tries to tell her family without any of them believing her that they are (reiterating that no one takes any notice of her despite her trying to help them) cops, with her parents insisting that they are speedboat salesmen.
- In the novel, Miss Honey's class are five, whereas in the film Matilda and her classmates are six (as stated by Matilda when asked her age).
- After Matilda writes the horrifying message on the board, there is a food fight to force Ms. Trunchbull out of school but in the novel, there is no food fight and Miss Trunchbull flees from her house.
- The part where Miss Trunchbull breaks a China platter on Bruce Bogtrotter after he finishes a whole cake is depicted entirely different. The films shows that she demands that everyone stays in school for five hours to copy from the dictionary as a punishment and they are sent home late at night, but the novel reveals that she furiously orders everyone to leave the assembly room.
- Oulu International Children's Film Festival Starboy Award
- Best Director — Danny DeVito
- Satellite Awards
- Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture — Comedy or Musical (Danny DeVito)
- Young Artist Award
- Best Performance in a Feature Film — Leading Young Actress (Mara Wilson)
- Best Performance in a Feature Film — Supporting Young Actress (Kira Spencer Hesser)
Two songs are featured in the film. One of them, "Send Me on My Way" by Rusted Root, is played twice: when the four-year-old Matilda is left alone at her house, making pancakes, and at the end of the film, set to a montage of Matilda and Miss Honey playing at Miss Trunchbull's former house. The other song is Thurston Harris's "Little Bitty Pretty One", played when Matilda is learning to control her psychokinetic powers.
The film's score was composed by David Newman.
Matilda received critical acclaim at the time of its release. On Rotten Tomatoes it holds a "fresh" rating of 90%.1 In the United States, the film was a box-office bomb, earning $33 million in contrast to its $36 million budget.2 It fared better during its worldwide release and ended up earning back nearly double its original budget. The film has continued to be a cult classic since its release.
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Matilda (film)|
- Matilda at the Internet Movie Database
- Matilda at AllRovi
- Matilda at Box Office Mojo
- Matilda at Rotten Tomatoes
- Movie stills