A bright little girl with magic powers sparks a revolution
at school against her cruel domineering headmistress.
Matilda the Musical (2022)
Directed by Matthew Warchus
Written by Dennis Kelly
Starring Alisha Weir, Lashana Lynch, Emma Thompson,
Stephen Graham, Andrea Riseborough, Sindhu Vee
Remake of 1996's Matilda
Based on the stage play by Dennis Kelly and Tim Minchin
and the novel by Roald Dahl
I'm an enormous fan of 1996's Matilda. I love Danny DeVito's take on the material, the performances of Mara Wilson and Pam Ferris among others, and the hilarious tone the film maintains throughout. In other words, I felt this adaptation had big shoes to fill. I have not yet seen the stage musical on which the film was based, but I'd certainly like to. Matilda the Musical is a lot darker than the original film, focusing on Matilda's traumatic upbringing and unhealthy coping mechanisms. Trunchbull is less of a cartoony villain and more of a realistic sadist. The Wormwoods are barely in it, and the pace is way too brisk. But still, it's delightful.
Matilda Wormwood (Weir) is a remarkably bright child who loves to read and tell stories. Her parents can't stand her because they're selfish idiots. One day, she gets to go to school for the first time, where she meets the kindhearted Miss Honey (Lynch) and the tyrannical headmistress Agatha Trunchbull (Thompson). Matilda, who has her own moral code, is the first child ever to stand up to Trunchbull, sparking a school-wide revolution. All along, we get a host of cute songs that fit the story like a glove.
Matilda the Musical brings the story back to its English roots and delivers a catchy, good-spirited musical. It stands on its own, does not tarnish the legacy of the 1996 film, and encourages kids to stand up for themselves. It'll no doubt be overshadowed big time by Glass Onion, but I hope it gets its moment in the sun.