Movie Review – ‘Matilda the Musical’

Hello everyone! 🙂

Welcome to ‘Bradley’s Basement’ blog and I’m Tim Bradley!

It’s funny. For a long time, I’ve never considered the idea of Roald Dahl‘s ‘Matilda’ being a musical that seriously. The stage show had a trial run in Stratford-upon-Avon from 2010 to 2011 before it had its West End premiere in 2011. Apparently, it’s a popular stage show, yet I’ve not seen it myself.

As far as I’m concerned, there are three versions of ‘Matilda’ that I’ve enjoyed. The 1988 book by Roald Dahl itself, the 1996 film directed by Danny DeVito and starring Mara Wilson, and an audio dramatization that has Christopher Timothy, Rula Lenska and Joanna David in it, would you believe?

I wasn’t keen on the idea of ‘Matilda’ being a musical production, so therefore I never saw it at any theatre since it came out. But that doesn’t mean I wasn’t a little curious. Hence, why my parents and I decided to check out the 2022 film adaptation of ‘Matilda the Musical’ at the cinema pretty recently.

We saw ‘Matilda the Musical’ the film on New Year’s Eve in December 2022. I didn’t know whether this would be a direct translation of the musical production into film, so I’ve decided to judge this movie on whether it’s a worthy adaptation of the original book by Roald Dahl, as that is important. 🙂

So, what’s my verdict on this movie? Well, it’s decent enough, but I wouldn’t say this won me over. I feel the 1996 film adaptation by director Danny DeVito is closer to the original book than the 2022 film of the musical production. I remember the lines from the 1996 film more easily than the 2022 film.

Now, that’s not to imply ‘Matilda the Musical’ the film is terrible. Far from it. There are good moments that I enjoyed from this film, particularly the casting of Alisha Weir as Matilda. I’ll even say that Emma Thompson delivers a decent and enjoyable interpretation of Miss Trunchbull in this film.

When the film is trying to be an adaptation of the original source material, it does it decently well, especially when doing its own thing compared to the 1996 film. When the film is being a musical however, I found that distracting. A lot of the songs aren’t very memorable for me from watching it.

Again, I stress, I know there’s a fanbase for ‘Matilda the Musical’. If you enjoyed this film as well as the musical production on stage, that’s fine. Clearly you got something out from this film more than me, and both the musical on stage and on film are likely your first versions of ‘Matilda’ than the 1996 film.

But as someone who discovered ‘Matilda’ in the 1990s through both the book and the 1996 film, I can’t say the 2022 film is one I’d want to see again and again. When it comes to doing an in-depth review on the film for my blog when I revisit it on Netflix someday, I hope I’ll explain myself better.

Again, there are good moments to take from this film, such as the moments when Matilda is defying Miss Trunchbull and her cruelty when at Crunchem Hall school. But it’s sometimes frustrating when the dramatic moments of the film are interrupted by sometimes very extravagant musical numbers.

As well as Alisha Wier and Emma Thompson, Lashana Lynch plays Miss Honey. Interesting that Lashana Lynch was cast as Miss Honey, as she’s a black woman compared to Embeth Davidtz who’s white. I don’t know if a black woman cast to play Miss Honey was done in the stage version too.

The film also features Stephen Graham as Mr. Harry Wormwood and Andrea Riseborough as Mrs. Wormwood. Surprisingly, the Wormwoods’ son Michael doesn’t appear in 2022 film. That’s quite a contrast and an odd decision compared to the book and the 1996 film where Michael is clearly seen.

There’s also Sindhu Vee as Mrs. Phelps. Mrs. Phelps has more screen time in the 2022 film compared to the 1996 film, especially when Matilda tells her the story about the Acrobat (played by Lauren Alexandra) and the Escapologist (played by Carl Spencer), who might be Magnus, Miss Honey’s dad.

The film also features Rei Yamauchi Fulker as Lavender, Charlie Hodson-Prior as Bruce Bogtrotter, Winter Jarett-Glasspool as Amanda Thripp, and Meesha Garbett as Hortensia. I recall Hortensia being friendlier to Matilda and Lavender in the 1996 film and maybe the book compared to this film.

‘Matilda the Musical’ isn’t what I would call a winner for me. I’m glad I’ve seen it at the cinema and it’s interesting to see a different interpretation of the ‘Matilda’ story compared to what I knew before. I’m sure this film is a winner for others, but I’d rather stick with the 1996 film as my ‘Matilda’. 🙂

Thanks for reading!

Bye for now!

Tim 🙂

3 thoughts on “Movie Review – ‘Matilda the Musical’

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