Matilda is a 1996 American fantasy-comedy film directed by Danny DeVito. The screenplay by Nicholas Kazan and Robin Swicord is based on Roald Dahl's novel of the same name. The film was released by TriStar Pictures on August 2, 1996 and stars DeVito, Rhea Perlman, Embeth Davidtz, Pam Ferris, and Mara Wilson.
Matilda Wormwood is an extremely intelligent girl with a bright personality from an early age, but her spiteful and ignorant parents, Harry and Zinnia, neglect and even mistreat her. When Matilda reaches four, she discovers the local library and walks there every day to read while her parents are at work and her older brother, Michael, is at school, much to the amusement of the librarian, Mrs. Phelps, 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 increasingly angry and the television suddenly explodes.
One of Harry's clients, Agatha Trunchbull, 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 and Hortensia, 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, is a kind and lovely woman who adores her pupils and takes an immediate liking to Matilda for her intellect. Miss Honey speaks with 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, 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 Trunchbull's water jug to frighten her. 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 Trunchbull, frightening her. Feeling sympathy for Matilda, Miss Honey invites her to her house for tea. On the way, they pass 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, Agatha Trunchbull, to live with them and look after Miss Honey while her father was at work. However, 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 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 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 Trunchbull's house, and from outside, wreaks havoc in an attempt to scare Trunchbull away. Trunchbull almost flees in terror, but she finds Matilda's ribbon in the process and realizes that she was there. The next day, 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 Trunchbull of murdering him and ordering her to leave town. 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 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 being a frequent visitor.
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, and are hesitant, but they decide to let Miss Honey adopt her by signing the adoption papers, this time on good terms with her. The Wormwoods escape, while Matilda lives a happy life with Miss Honey.
- Danny DeVito as Harry Wormwood/Narrator
- Rhea Perlman as Zinnia Wormwood
- Embeth Davidtz as Miss Jennifer Honey
- Pam Ferris as Agatha Trunchbull
- 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
- Brian Levinson as Michael Wormwood
- Nicholas Cox as Michael - 6 years
- Paul Reubens as FBI Agent Bob
- Tracey Walter as FBI Agent Bill
- Kiami Davael as Lavender Brown
- 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 (uncredited) as Mickey on The Million Dollar Sticky
- YoungStar Award
- Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Comedy Film — Mara Wilson
- Cinekid Lion Audience Award
- Best Director — Danny DeVito
- 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%. In the United States, the film was a box office bomb, earning $33 million in contrast to its $36 million budget. 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.
|40x40px||Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Matilda (film)|
- Matilda at the Internet Movie Database
- Matilda at Box Office Mojo
- Matilda at Rotten Tomatoes
- Movie stills