Summary: An adaptation of the Tony and Olivier award-winning musical. Matilda tells the story of an extraordinary girl who, armed with a sharp mind and a vivid imagination, dares to take a stand to change her story with miraculous results.
It’s been a while since I’ve seen the Mara Wilson film or have read the book but I know this is much closer to the book than the Mara Wilson film. This is also NOT a remake of the Mara Wilson film, this is just a movie version of the stage show. I keep seeing people say “I can’t believe they remade Matilda” but it’s not a remake so lol. Just to be clear.
Cast and Characters.
- Alisha Weir as Matilda Wormwood. I don’t think they say how old she is in this version, but I’m assuming between 6 and 8-years-old. Matilda is born to parents who are neglectful and she finds solace in reading books. She’s extremely smart due to her ability to consume books. We meet her quickly in the beginning and we see that she has a penchant for storytelling. She goes to school for the first time and befriends the kids in her class, especially Lavender and then of course Miss. Honey. Matilda is outspoken when it comes to things she perceives to be wrong and is fiercely protective of her friends. She doesn’t like when people cheat or lie or go back on their word. Whenever her parents talk about how they trick people, she gets upset, not understanding why they’re this way but of course she gets punished for this. While at school, she is quick on her feet when it comes to protecting her friends and Miss. Honey. She is a good-spirited kid who just wants to be around people who care about her and who she cares about. Alisha Weir is amazing, she really commands the screen whenever she is on it. Her singing voice is great and the way she sings the songs and her interpretation of Matilda’s sassy nature, I loved it. She was a great Matilda.
- Emma Thompson as Miss Agatha Trunchbull. The Trunch is a monster of a woman, she is big, scary and hates children and pigtails. She is the headmaster of the school Matilda attends and she is a massive bully to everyone, including her step-niece and she enjoys it. Whenever she can, she likes to “break” her students. Emma Thompson is amazing as Trunchball, yes she’s wearing makeup and prosthetics but her performance truly shines, she’s funny and intimidating and I think she does a great job in separating herself from Trunchballs of the past. I think her presence in the film is large and looming but there’s also silliness in her performance, which is great for a character that is plucked from a children’s book, put on stage and then put on film. I think her singing is amazing and I don’t think I knew she could sing until she did Beauty and the Beast.
- Lashana Lynch as Miss Honey. Miss. Honey is a sweet and good natured elementary teacher who works at the school under Miss. Trunchball, she is also the step-niece of the Trunch. She has been bullied all of her life by her aunt but has maintained a sweet deposition. She loves her students and loves teaching and tries to do best by them. When she meets Matilda, they make a connection that causes Matilda to love and trust Miss. Honey and causes Miss. Honey to love and want to protect and lift Matilda up. I think of the adults, Lashana Lynch is the standout, I think she’s amazing in the role and after seeing her in two other more “dominant” roles in 2022, it was quite amazing seeing her play someone who is docile and soft. Range honey lol. I was quite surprised and pleased when I found out she was playing Miss. Honey because I didn’t know she could sing (I completely forgot about that show she was in that I think was a bit musical) and because Miss. Honey was black! I loved that. I think she’s so good and I’ve decided she’s my girl crush, and I can’t wait to see her in more stuff.
- Stephen Graham as Mr. Wormwood. Mr. Wormwood is a swarmy man and he knows it but he thinks there’s nothing wrong with it. He runs a car lot and he cheats people on the daily. He is verbally abusive to Matilda and constantly refers to her as “a boy” because he wanted a son. He only really gets it together near the end but it’s not enough to make up for anything. He’s not in the movie a ton but he’s fun to watch on screen as a big villain. Stephen Graham does well, his fake teeth kept making me laugh whenever he would speak. He does a good job.
- Andrea Riseborough as Mrs. Wormwood. She is a swarmy woman who is married to Mr. Wormwood and neglectful and verbally abusive to Matilda. There’s not much to say, she’s a house wife who is just as bad as Mr. Wormwood. She doesn’t even refer to Matilda as a gender but as “it”. Andrea Riseborough is good in the role, she’s definitely hamming it up and it’s fun.
- Sindhu Vee as Mrs. Phelps. Mrs. Phelps is the librarian for the Mobile Library Matilda frequents and the listener of Matilda’s storytelling. She’s a nice woman and someone that Matilda can trust. She is a constant adult who treats Matilda well. It was also nice to see a brown woman in a prominent role in this child’s life. She’s really likable.
Other Characters. The other characters in the film are also great. Some of have very minor roles but I think everyone is wonderful, with some standouts being Meesha Garbett as Hortensia, who stands out because of her presence during the school songs and is known as “Red beret girl”. Rei Yamauchi Fulker as Lavender who is the new friend Matilda meets in the school, they are both new to the school and create a friendship that is really cute.
The Music and Choreography. Tim Minchin is the writer of the songs and he is truly amazing because while the story is good and the characters iconic and fun, the songs really fit well into this story and I think it propels the story into a different kind of experience. I like all of the songs in the film but the ones that really stand out are:
- “School Song” because I love the alphabet bit of the song and how they use it. So clever.
- “When I Grow Up” is a sweet song because I’m sure many adults can relate to these kids because being an adult is not what it is cracked up to be but kids don’t know that lol.
- “Quiet” is my favorite song because the first minute is like a stream of consciousness panic attack like quick part and I love it. I love the overall song but that part is my favorite part. The words in that section are so amazing and the visuals along with Alisha Weir’s acting is some of the best stuff in the movie.
- “My House” Miss. Honey sings this song and it’s a beautiful song where she talks about making her own home. Plus, it later gets paired with the escapologist and it’s super emotional, I teared up a little bit.
- “Revolting Children” is the song that has the viral clip that had everyone on the edge of their seat for this film to come out. It’s super fun and the energy is so high that I was like “HELL YEAH! Revolting children!”
- “Still Holding My Hand” this song was written for the musical film and I think it’s a beautiful addition and it also makes me tear up.
The look of the film. It has a very bright look to the film and I think it works for the story because it feels like a story that’s being told without a narrator. I love the colors and how bright they are. It has a fantasy like element to it which helps in a lot of ways because Matilda tells a dramatic tale throughout the movie and I think it kind of maintains this “story being told”. Plus, the coloring really allows for Alisha Weir’s blue eyes to really pop.
Matilda and Miss. Honey. I think the story of Matilda really hinges on the relationship between Matilda and Miss. Honey and while I think we could have gotten more of them (I’ll talk about that more later), but I think Lashana Lynch and Alisha Weir have great chemistry together. I love their first scene together when Miss. Honey meets Matilda at her house when trying to get her parents to let Matilda go to school. The other small moments but the next two big moments are when Matilda shows Miss. Honey her powers and then the scene in Miss. Honey’s house. I know it’s a musical so there are going to moments that are had through song, which is cool, and I think they do a great job with the ones we got.
Miss. Trunchball and Miss. Honey. They don’t have a ton of scenes together where they exclusively talk but I did enjoy their dynamic. In this, the Trunch is her step-aunt and she is very menacing and verbally/emotionally abusive to Miss. Honey, this is show in their first scene when Miss. Honey goes to talk to her about Matilda’s intelligence, she has to steel herself before she goes into the room. Or how she always cowers whenever they talk, or stutter, I think it really showed just how strong the hold the Trunch had over her. I liked that we got to see her have moments of strength so when she really stands up to her at the end, we see it progress.
The Acrobat and Escapologist. I understand if people feel like these scenes were unnecessary and I can see why in a film they may not work and why in a stage show they would, but I liked them. As someone who is a storyteller, I can understand why a character telling a dramatic story to cope with their terrible homelife helps them make it through the day. Not that I can relate in that way lol, just that I understand on a storytelling level. I think Matilda’s need to tell this story to Mrs. Phelps was her way of escaping her terrible and sad life. Not to mention, I loved the connection created between this story and another character. I don’t remember if it was in the book or not (I’m about to reread) but it was great stuff.
The Opening. I don’t mind the song but I just didn’t like the sequence lol I have no idea why but I just didn’t like it lol.
Matilda and Miss. Honey. As I stated in the pros, the story hinges on the relationship between Matilda and Miss. Honey and while I think the movie does a good job at their chemistry and the moments between them, I still wish we got to see more of them interacting. I’m not asking for an adventure where they have to escape Miss. Honey’s old house while the Trunch is tracking them down, but maybe more moments in the classroom alone? I think the movie did a good job of having Mrs. Phelps (the librarian) be a good woman presence in her life and maybe having her be more active, it prevented more time dedicated to Miss. Honey? I’m not sure but I would have liked one more *long* scene of them besides the two we got.
Matilda and her friends. I feel like we could have gotten a little more of her hanging out with her class while at school. When we see her in school, the experience is so troubled by Miss. Trunchball that the kids are always on the defensive that we don’t see a ton of them in class or seeing Matilda really bond with the other kids the way that we could have. Not that I think Matilda wouldn’t stand up for her classmates but I feel like it would feel more… earned if we saw them hang out more. We really only see it in that one scene before school when they were talking about telekinipses lol. I just feel like there are some missed opportunities there.
Overall, I really loved this movie. I’ve watched it three times, the music is so amazing and such a standout, I would love to see the stage show so I can see what songs were cut out and deduce why (outside of time lol). I think all of the acting was so good, Lashana Lynch and Alisha Weir really doing their things as Matilda and Miss. Honey. Emma Thompson was a great Miss. Trunchball and I think they all have done great character work. I love the whimsical, fantasy like look of the film and I loved the relationships portrayed. However, while I love the relationships, I do wish we got to see a little bit more between Matilda and Miss. Honey and then Matilda and her friends, I think it would have helped the ending feeling a bit more satisfying I think. I also just did not like the opening sequence, the song is fine but the sequence I did not enjoy lol. In the end, I recommend this film but remember it is NOT a remake of the 1996 version but an adaptation of the stage musical which is adapted from the book and much closer to the story. It’s super enjoyable and fun and the acting is amazing.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.
Did you watch Matilda The Musical The Movie? What were your thoughts?
Let me know in the comments below! Be sure to like and follow for more reviews like this!