Matilda is a powerful story about never giving up and fighting for what you believe in. That our title character is a young girl with burgeoning telekinetic powers is what makes it all the more interesting.
Matilda (Mara Wilson) is as young girl who just doesn’t fit in with her family. In short, she’s intelligent and calm whereas her parents and brother are less than knowledgeable and seem to be quite impulsive. As she grows up, Matilda has a penchant for reading, to the point where she takes a wheelbarrow to the library so that she can read piles of books and learn more about the world she finds herself in. Her family often mistreats her and thinks that she is the stupid one and as she starts to grow more bold she punishes them for their crimes, which include belittling her and flat out lying to the people they sell cars to.
Her pranks are harmless, but they highlight an edge to Matilda that she is not one to be messed with. Her father Harry Wormwood (Danny DeVito) thinks she is stupid, her mother Zinnia (Rhea Pearlman) thinks she isn’t a priority, and her brother Michael (Brian Levinson) thinks she is nothing more than a nuisance. Clearly they don’t respect her and, aside from the pranks, Matilda does her best to hide her feelings from her family as she moves through her life.
It is around this time that she starts to discover her abilities and is enrolled in a preparatory school run by the tyrannical principal Agatha Trunchbull (Pam Ferris) . You might be wondering how someone who, could quite nicely be titled a terrorist, could continue teaching our youth. The answer is simple, she punishes the parents as much as she does the students. However, in this dank, depressing school of woe and agony is a shining beacon in Jennifer Honey (Embeth Davidtz) who is as sweet and light as her name would imply. Matilda also befriends a young girl named Lavender (Kiami Davael), who is also tired of the mistreatment from Trunchbull. As if things couldn’t get any worse for her, her family is also under investigation by two federal agents, Bob (Paul Reubens) and Bill (Tracy Walter).
Over time Matilda starts to open up to Miss Honey, whom she trusts and grows to learn more about including that Miss Honey is Agatha’s stepdaughter, and has been banished from her family’s home. Matilda, wanting to do right by the only person who has ever taken an interest in her, goes out of her way to get things from Miss Honey’s old home to try and lighten her day.
Matilda is a cute and enjoyable movie. It has fantasy elements along with real issues that should never be ignored, from child abuse, to poorly run educational facilities. But even in the darkest moments of the film, there is always a shining light because of Mara Wilson.