For today’s review, I’m going to review a film from my youth which has stuck with me for many a year – in fact, I would say that this is one of my favorite kids films of all time.
Based on the story by Roald Dahl, Matilda is the tale of a girl who should have been picked up by child protective services that discovers she had telekinetic powers, using them to save herself from her home and school life in a way which the whole family can enjoy. What’s not to like?
Now, I know it did terribly in the box office and is more of a ‘it was good but I wouldn’t pay to see it’ sort of movies back in 1996, but to me, it’s a testament to what a few great actors can do if you give them a chance to make something together.
You’ve got Danny DeVito as a director, producer and actor, famous for works like One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest, Romancing the Stone, Twins, Taxi, The Lorax, and apparently, he even helped produce one of my favorite films of all time, Pulp Fiction. He’s even managed to wrangle a Twins sequel, Triplets, to come out next year. Then there’s Rea Perlman, his real-world wife, most famous for Cheers, and the spinoffs, and Mara Wilson, also known for Miracle on 34th Street and Mrs Doubtfire. Not a bad resume, at the time. I never really liked the latter, but it is held in a very positive light as a childhood classic.
Then of course, there’s the other actors, Pam Ferris, who know acts in Call the Midwife, a current day British TV show about a bunch of midwives and Embeth Davidtz, for who a quick Google Images search showed a picture of Mara Wilson and Jennifer Lawrence, about 25 pictures in. Not sure how to take that to be honest.
I wouldn’t say anyone’s acting was particular anything in Matilda. No one stands out as fantastic or terrible, but I can say, categorically, every acted in a way which fits their character.
The thing I really want to talk about though, is the music. There are two songs which the average viewer will recall having heard – Send Me On My Way by Rusted Root, a serious contender for my funeral, and Little Bitty Pretty One, by Thurston Harris. Both of these have something else in common – unless you look at the lyrics, you don’t know what the words are and its more the tone that makes you feel all warm inside. Or is that just me? Music is a wonderful thing, making you feel any emotion – Rusted Root, in my eyes, made a song which van touch on your heart strings without doing anything other than inciting a native American style dance around a camp fire, and suggesting that, if this is the end, don’t feel sad, but rather, do it with a smile for all the times we had. Yeah – it’ll be one of my funeral songs all right.
What more can I say? It’s a film with a warm family tone, some suitable acting and music to fit everything else. One of my top kids films (along with Ice Age, by the way, which also played Send Me On My Way…)