Like is true of most of my childhood, the popular, award winning novel Matilda isn’t one I read. Nor did I ever see the film adaptation from the 90s with Mara Wilson. Netflix recently remade the production as a musical and gave it a kind of grandiose scale.
Matilda: the Musical (2022) Netflix Review
Each day brings with it mere existence for young Matilda (Alisha Weir). Her parents don’t care one wit about her and never wanted her. Her father even refers to her as a son for her entire young life.No one listens and so she becomes an imaginative girl, telling stories that give her an escape from this life. Eventually, she is put in school, but only after her parents are caught! Once there, the kind Miss Honey (Lashana Lynch) helps to foster the extremely bright and talented Matilda. Life is better… with exception to the harsh and unkind headmistress Agatha Trunchbull (Emma Thompson).
Running her school with an iron fist and no room for error, Miss Trunchbull lives up to her name. Then things change when Matilda walks into her school…
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This is one of those stories that is, at first glance, kind of an odd one for children. Yet at the same time, I think what shapes this is what society now tells us is “acceptable” as children’s literature. While this does deal with cruel people, it also shows ways or finda ways to escape while curating an imagination, something we seem to have little of now. It’s sad the reason our young heroine has to sculpt such an imagination but having one is a good way to start life.
The cast is made up of practiced talent and of course the newcomer Alisha Weir taking an iconic role on. I’m not sure which film is more faithful to the novels since I didn’t read them, but did see headlines about Thompson’s Trunchbull being “reimagined.” What this means, I don’t know. However, she plays the role with all the same zest as she has any number of varied roles she plays, and while she’s not a good person in this one, this role somehow reminds me of her turn as Nanny McPhee. Mostly I think just in the way she goes all in as a performer to craft the role.
The music is quite epic and pretty, and though I didn’t pay as close attention to some of the numbers as others (I watched this while writing), there are some truly beautiful numbers. The final one in particular is really sweet and does a good job of putting the viewer in a happy mood after the dark aesthetics. That’s what makes it memorable. Even at this, other songs are somehow still beautiful even in their more haunting moments. Everyone performs them quite well too.
When the end credits role, I cannot say this is an instant favorite. However, the producers do a nice job with this as a production plus they pull together a cast who puts in their all. The dance numbers are good, the music pretty and the story interesting. When it comes to film, that’s more than we can usually find in today’s landscape.
You can find Matilda the Musical to stream exclusively on Netflilx
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Content: there’s “darkness” throughout the whole film. Matilda tells a story about a couple who must perform a daring act after a contract. The act eventually kills someone from injuries they sustain. Adults neglect and sometimes yell at a child in her own home. (She pulls pranks as a way to get back at them.) Miss Trunchbull is cruel to her students and punishes them by placing them in isolation or other unusual ways (she “throws” one student by her pigtails). The end scene involves a lot of telepathic acts and the tossing around of a woman. The film is PG.