TL;DR – While I was mixed on the musical part, the rest of the film was a delight.
Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene
Disclosure – I paid for the Netflix service that viewed this film
Matilda the Musical Review –
Rarely have I seen a film with just such a windy road to completion. You have the original book, which then becomes a movie, influences a musical, and is turned back into a film. I have to say that I have a fondness for the original book and film adaption, and I had never seen the musical, though friends of mine had said it was a delight. This means that I come into this film with an odd perspective because my central question is ‘does the musical elements add anything to the story?’
So to set the scene, no one was more surprised that they were about to imminently have a baby than Harry Wormwood (Stephen Graham) and Mrs Wormwood (Andrea Riseborough). How dare this thing, a girl no less, come and ruin their lives. As little Matilda (Alisha Weir) grows up, she lives in a world of books because there is no love from her parents. Well, one day, the school comes around and asks why she wasn’t enrolled. Well, one fine later, they reluctantly send her to Crunchem Hall, run by the evil Miss Agatha Trunchbull (Emma Thompson). But in this hellhole is one ray of light, the joy that is Miss Jennifer Honey (Lashana Lynch).
The first thing I need to say is that it is clear that everyone here is giving their all in this film. The characters are perfectly cast. The musical items hit that little bit harder than they needed to. The set design takes everything to 11. For example, we see a child burp, and we follow the burp across the screen until it bursts in front of Miss Trunchbull, who proceeds to lick the air with abandon before discovering it is her chocolate cake. It is this moment of insanity, perfectly captured. Lashana Lynch is perfect as Miss Honey, caring for everyone in her class. At the heart of the film is, of course, Matilda and Alisha Weir is an instant start. She commands every scene she is in, including back-and-forths with Emma Thompson.
When it comes to the narrative, they hit all the major plot points, even if there are some changes around the edges. Because many people are already familiar with the story, it gave the filmmakers the licence to take things to the next level. For example, using Matilda’s pranks with her father to turn him into the colours of an Oompa Loompa. I also liked some of the iconographies on show, with the revolution being very not subtle. With the new additions, I liked the introduction of Mrs Phelps (Sindhu Vee), the librarian, and the story of the Acrobat (Lauren Alexandra) and the Escapologist (Carl Spencer) that we get in instalments throughout the film.
But as this is a musical, we need to explore if these musical additions added anything to the narrative, and unfortunately for me, that was a bit of a mixed bag. Some songs absolutely slapped and had me following along with bated breath as we dazzled across the screen. The two standouts for me were Bruce and Revolting Children, where the music, choreography, and narrative combined to create a memorable moment. However, most of the other songs just did not land with me, feeling more like distractions from the narrative than integral to the plot.
In the end, do we recommend Matilda the Musical? While the ‘musical’ part of the film was a mixed bad for me. Every other part of the movie was a delight to watch. If you liked Matilda the Musical we would recommend to you In the Heights.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Matilda the Musical
Directed by – Matthew Warchus
Screenplay by – Dennis Kelly
Based on – Roald Dahl’s Matilda by Matthew Warchus, Dennis Kelly & Tim Minchin and Matilda by Roald Dahl
Music/Lyrics by – Christopher Nightingale & Tim Minchin
Cinematography by – Tat Radcliffe
Edited by – Melanie Oliver
Production/Distribution Companies – TriStar Pictures, Working Title Films, The Roald Dahl Story Company, Sony & Netflix
Starring – Alisha Weir, Lashana Lynch, Emma Thompson, Stephen Graham, Andrea Riseborough, Sindhu Vee, Lauren Alexandra, Carl Spencer, Katherine Kingsley, Charlie Hodson-Prior, Rei Yamauchi Fulker, Meesha Garbett, Winter Jarrett-Glasspool & Matt Henry
Rating – Australia: PG;