"Matilda" is a heartwarming fantasy-comedy film based on the beloved children's novel of the same name by Roald Dahl. The story revolves around a young girl named Matilda Wormwood, who possesses extraordinary intelligence and telekinetic powers.
Born into a family that neither understands nor appreciates her, Matilda finds solace in books and her own vivid imagination. As she starts school, she encounters the tyrannical principal, Miss Trunchbull, whose oppressive methods stand in stark contrast to the kindness shown by Matilda's teacher, Miss Honey.
As Matilda discovers the extent of her powers, she begins to use them to stand up against the injustices in her life, leading to a series of humorous and touching events that change the lives of those around her.
- Release Date: August 2, 1996
- Director: Danny DeVito
- Genre: Fantasy, Comedy
- Running Time: 102 minutes
- Rating: PG
- Production Company: TriStar Pictures, Jersey Films
- Distributed by: TriStar Pictures
- Budget: $36 million
- Box Office Collection: $33.5 million (domestic)
Where to Stream
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- Danny DeVito not only directed the film but also played the role of Harry Wormwood, Matilda's father. Additionally, he lent his voice as the narrator of the story.
- Mara Wilson, who played Matilda, was only nine years old during the filming. Despite her young age, she delivered a memorable performance that has since become iconic.
- The "chokey," a narrow, dark closet filled with sharp objects where Miss Trunchbull punishes students, was a creation of Roald Dahl in the original book and was brought to life in a terrifying manner in the movie.
- The scene where Bruce Bogtrotter is forced to eat an entire chocolate cake as punishment was achieved using several cakes. The cakes were made without eggs so they could be easily consumed in large quantities.
- The character of Miss Honey's doll, Liccy Doll, is named in tribute to Roald Dahl's widow, Liccy Dahl.
"Matilda" received widespread acclaim from critics and audiences alike for its faithful adaptation of Roald Dahl's novel, its blend of humor and heart, and the performances of its cast, especially Mara Wilson in the titular role. Danny DeVito's direction was praised for capturing the whimsical and dark tones of Dahl's writing, creating a film that appealed to both children and adults.
Roger Ebert, in his review for the Chicago Sun-Times, wrote, "The movie will be enjoyed by children for the story and the lovable young heroine, and by adults for the wickedly comic Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman, who have at each other with a cheerful, obscene abandon." The film holds a rating of 90% on Rotten Tomatoes, with the consensus reading, "Danny DeVito-directed version of Matilda is odd, charming, and while the movie diverges from Roald Dahl, it nonetheless captures the book's spirit."
Despite its critical success, "Matilda" was a modest box office performer, earning $33.5 million domestically against a budget of $36 million. However, the film has since gained a cult following and is fondly remembered as one of the standout family films of the 1990s. Its themes of empowerment, the importance of kindness, and the magic of childhood continue to resonate with audiences of all ages.