Old Lady Movie Night: “Matilda”
It is an absolute disgrace that we haven’t watched this movie together yet. First, feel free to shun me until you’ve read until the end of this sentence. Second, I wanted to be Matilda — so much so, that I actually believed I could be if I read enough books and stared at things hard enough. We all did. Every single one. Nothing I just typed is not unique to me at all — and for that I am grateful.
I mean, it’s MATILDA, you guys. A national treasure. If you didn’t read the book, then you at least saw the movie, and that means you — also like me — were probably horrified when that poor boy was forced to eat an entire cake at a school assembly. (Or maybe not. Personally, I just hate indigestion.)
BUT FINALLY. Thanks to me finding it on Netflix, we get down to the movies/books that made us people. Now, I’m not going to lie, I personally really loved The BFG, but that is not a movie I made my Nana rent for me repeatedly, so here we are today. So let’s get to it!
In a second, that is. I feel like it’s important to state before we begin that Mara Wilson (who played Matilda) is a kick-ass writer in her own right, and reading her blog and following her on Twitter is a necessary thing to do. The opinions she has are good ones, I promise thee.
BUT MOVING ON: time for the show!
1) We have all known Wormwoods.
All of us. Every single one. Maybe you live near some Wormwoods right now. Maybe you grew up next to some Wormwoods (I did). Either way, you were very aware when the Wormwoods were home, and when they were not, and you likely rejoiced over the latter. My next door neighbours (on one side) were incredibly Wormwood-esque — especially when the Dad hit a deer with his car (for the second time) and had its head mounted in the basement for reasons no one can fully understand. And do you know how you know I’m not lying? No one could make something like that up, ever.
2) Growing up, there was a part of me who wished my parents left me alone like Rhea and Danny so I could be “independent”.
And that is terrible, because I was over-romanticizing literally one of the worst parenting situations in fictional history. But the thing is, personally, I just wanted to be able to go to the library by myself and cook by myself, and basically be an “adult.” Well, I am an adult now and I can do one of those things (and have no interest in the other, really). So here’s an open message to Little Anne: NO. BE HAPPY YOUR PARENTS CARE AND WON’T LET YOU WALK TO THE LIBRARY ALONE AT THREE YEARS OLD. (And cooking isn’t your thing and that’s fine, so stop worrying about it.)
3) But who doesn’t love the library?
RIGHT? Matilda’s love of books and reading is something I hope we can all relate to. Wasn’t it magical when you checked out a book for the first time? And even more magical when you saw shelves of books you’d never seen? Oh my goodness. This is going to sound super out of control, but I STILL kind of feel that way when I go to a bookstore. AM I RIGHT, FELLOW READERS? READING IS THE BEST. I remember some kids in elementary school being all, “Pfff you WOULD read at recess” and it was like, “Yes. That is a correct statement to make. I absolutely would.” (So if you’re reading this, kids that stood in the cubby and kept staring at me reading on the portable steps: congratulations, you got it.)
4) “You’re not alone”.
AH. Now, being a kid watching this, I think that message may have gone over our heads. (Or at least mine.) But as an adult? WHAT AN AWESOME MESSAGE TO SEND. Seriously! Especially before the internet era where it’s now far easier to realize you are not alone. But heck no, Matilda, you are NOT alone! And let’s be honest: she probably grew up to cure the common cold AND write about 13 novels.
5) Also, shout-out to Matilda’s wardrobe, which I obviously had.
Didn’t we all? DIDN’T WE ALL? But especially the printed dresses from Northern Getaway. Why? Because it was 1994, and this was the way we lived our lives.
6) It is out of control that Matilda’s mom bingos so much.
OUT OF CONTROL. This coming from someone who has been to bingo several times. One time, I even won $150 — but other than that? Nothing. You have to pay at LEAST $20 to play the minimum amount of bingo, so if she does it all day and NEVER WINS until this one part — after years and years — she has probably spend thousands and thousands of dollars. That is NUTS. Madness. One giant question mark symbolizing “HUH.” At the very, very least.
7) There is nothing more depressing than the scene where the family is watching TV in the dark and eating as well.
And this is coming from someone who LOVES the TV. But I will say, that as soon as the lights are turned off, it becomes some sort of TV commitment. Like, THAT is the activity — you’re not on your computer, you’re not reading, you’re not even really eating that well because you’re using the light of the TV. It’s a whole new way of watching that I actually personally hate and only do RIGHT before bed, on my computer, when I’m almost asleep and still feel like watching Mad Men anyway. But in the evening? While eating dinner? I hate this part. I hate it also because Mr. Wormwood, WHY ARE YOU THE WORST DAD?
8) I hate the Wormwoods.
THEY ARE ABUSIVE AND AWFUL. I know we’re supposed to hate the Wormwoods, but oh my goodness, do Rhea and Danny ever do a good job of making you seriously want to call children’s services right away. And then he rips up Moby Dick! WHO EVEN ARE YOU. YOU ARE A MONSTER. Cherish your daughter, who is brilliant! At least I can write about it now — can you imagine my horror when I was little and had no outlet? CAN YOU?
9) But why would Mrs. Trunchbull be a teacher if she hated children?
She literally had the choice of any other career in the entire world. ANY. OTHER. ONE. Why would she CHOOSE to be around kids all day? So many questions. Never enough answers.
10) Miss Honey, though, LOVE.
My parents are nothing like the Wormwoods and I love them to death, but that did not stop me from adoring Miss Honey and wanting to be adopted by her. Am I right? (Yes.) Temporarily, at least. Also, as a grown-up, I’d still be totally down with Embeth Davidtz being my best friend and/or mentor — at the very least, someone to go shopping for apartment stuff with, since her house in Matilda is the literal best. Thus, TEAM MISS HONEY FOREVER. ALSO, HI EMBETH DAVIDTZ, I LIKE YOUR WORK.
11) Also, I saw this post on Tumblr about how amazing it is that Matilda CHOOSES to leave her family for someone that actually loves her.
And it’s so true! I forget the source specifically, but the writer went on about how the movie isn’t about Matilda being weird or a bad person, she’s simply choosing to do what’s best for her. Which is amazing and great. Obviously, someone else has written it better, but I am paraphrasing just so we can all nod together. Are you nodding? I am. (And I can’t stop. Send help.)
12) UGH, THE CAKE SCENE FOR REAL.
This is like children’s Se7en. Have you guys seen Se7en? I still can’t really “watch” Se7en. But I do know that Kevin Spacey kills someone by forcing him to eat until he dies. Basically, Trunchbull is Kevin Spacey, and Brucey is the guy who dies. Only no death. But seriously, how much post traumatic stress do you think was going on in this school after ALL THESE KIDS were forced to watch a woman torture a boy and countless other children? I’m not joking, even though I am phrasing it in a joking way.
13) Then it gets DARK.
The murder-mystery plot of Miss Honey and her dad and Mrs. Trunchbull is d-a-r-k, let’s not kid ourselves. But real talk: it’s one of my favourite parts of the story? I read Matilda at the same time I got into ghost stories, so all I basically wanted to read about was other people reading and true crime. Needless to say, I WAS SUPER COOL, YOU GUYS. And still am because I still enjoy the same topics. (#LOL) (*watches Unsolved Mysteries*)
14) I WANTED POWERS SO BAD.
Who am I kidding I WANT THEM NOW. I want to move Cheerios across the table and slam the door in people’s faces! But NOooooOOOOOooOOO, I have to be a real-life person who is not six and a half, and not a “fictional character.” Well, SOME OF US don’t GET montages in which we discover our abilities as wizards. Well I hope you’re happy, Matilda, because at 27 years old I’m still living vicariously through you. CAN YOU HEAR ME, LITERARY HEROINE? (Are you there, Roald Dahl? It’s me, Anne.)
15) But why would Matilda defend her dad from the cops?
That’d be the first thing I’d want him to do: go to jail. Go directly to jail, do not pass go, do not collect the collection of Roald Dahl books I accumulated between ages 8 and 11. However, as this scene plays out, I can see that these cops (played by one Pee Wee Herman) are actually the worst, and said they’d send Matilda to an orphanage . . . ? Huh? What does that even mean? Do you mean “into the system”? Clearly they’ve never seen Law and Order.
16) “No more miss nice girl”.
Is a phrase I have yet to say but have wanted to since I watched this movie. I’m not even sure if it was said in the book, but nonetheless — my time will come.
17) But seriously WHY IS TRUNCHBULL IN THE EDUCATION SYSTEM?
Does she also not answer to anyone? Who are her bosses? How is she allowed to live her life this way? And what kind of parents aren’t believing these claims of abuse? ONE VISIT from a parent to that school would lead to the discovery of the choky (sp?) and the whole school and system would be alerted. WHAT DISTRICT IS THIS? NEVER GO TO SCHOOL IN THIS DISTRICT, ANYONE.
18) “Matilda’s Revenge” would be another great title.
And THAT is a promise. Because this is the perfect revenge movie if you’re talking about revenge movies meant for children. Which I am. Otherwise I would be talking about Practical Magic or The Craft or even Heathers, which I vow to you I will see this year.
“Matilda’s Revenge.” Just remember who coined that term, HOLLYWOOD EXECS WHO I AM SURE ARE READING THIS. (hashtag call me)
19) Is there a bigger sense of relief than the one we get when Matilda gets adopted?
No. There is not. And also, can we talk about how Matilda’s parents LET HER GO? The one act in which they do the right thing? I won’t lie: the first time I read the book, I read through this part so fast because I was paranoid Matilda would have to go away, but NOPE. Thanks, Dahl-face! YOU SUCCEEDED IN WRAPPING IT ALL UP BEAUTIFULLY.
20) Okay but actually Matilda is the perfect book and story and also movie.
And here’s why:
a) Matilda’s differences are celebrated. She’s not seen as a weirdo (aside from by her terrible parents) — she’s seen as amazing because she is unique. WHICH IS HOW IT SHOULD BE, ALL OF US.
b) Matilda is smart! Smarts are the champion here! Also, GIRL POWER. FULL ON. Working together for a greater goal! Let’s hear it for the “you can achieve anything” message, please and thank you.
c) Miss Honey and Matilda BOTH win! As does ALL THE OTHER KIDS. And hell, even the Wormwoods, who manage to avoid prison. Sure!
And because it is not mid-90s nostalgia without a hat tip to the book/movie that all of us lived vicariously through, on behalf of anyone who was old enough to rent this movie from the library (BECAUSE THAT IS WHAT I DID BEING THE COOL PERSON I AM), thank you for all your hard work, everybody involved in this — even the pages on which the book was written on. Now let’s all go the book store and try to get magical powers. I BELIEVE IN US.
Also, DANNY DEVITO I LOVE YOUR WORK.