Netflix continues to gift viewers with some really wonderful shows and movies, this time bringing the magic of Roald Dahl’s Mathilda to life in a new musical film.
Born to a couple who never wanted to be parents, Mathilda Wormwood (Alicia Weir) passes the time by reading at home and trying to stay out of the way. Her rotten parents (played perfectly by Stephen Graham and Andrea Riseborough) aren’t exactly good role models, with their love of trash tv and get-rich-quick schemes. When representatives from the local school visit and insist that Mathilda attend school in person, Mr. and Mrs. Wormwood is only too excited to get Mathilda out of their hair.
Mathilda arrives at Crunchem Hall and immediately gets on the radar of the evil headmistress Miss Trunchbull. A former athlete who insists on calling the children revolting maggots and rodents, Miss Trunchbull rules the school with an iron fist. With the help of the loving teacher Miss Honey and her classmates, Mathilda fights back the only way she knows how- with her brain.
Mathilda the Musical is an exhilarating adventure with a strong female cast. Lashana Lynch is ethereal as Miss Honey. Her vocals are strong and she has excellent chemistry with the children in the film. Alicia Weir is lovely as Mathilda and holds her own on solos and Emma Thompson is delightfully unrecognizable as the mean and lumpy Miss Trunchbull.
The cinematography and set pieces will grab your attention in this film. The scenes in Mathilda’s home are filmed so that Mathilda’s parents seem larger than life, with their wacky decor and outfits. Mrs. Phelps’ library on wheels is so cozy and the school Crunchem Hall looks like the prison it is, which a classmate informs Mathilda at the beginning of the film. Gray and fortress-like, only Miss Honey’s classroom is welcoming, where the kids can explore and have fun out of the watchful eye of Miss Trunchbull. Often times the camera will pan to the English countryside which reminds Mathilda and the viewers that there is so much more world to see outside of Crunchem Hall. There is a subplot with Lauren Alexandra and Carl Spencer playing an acrobat and escapologist and again, the scenes of the circus show are really lush with details.
Mathilda the Musical is great for kids but be warned there is a discussion of the death of a character and in general, the majority of the adult characters are terrible. There’s name-calling (no cussing) and a tiny bit of violence when Mathilda’s father grabs her by the arm and throws her into her room but nothing too crazy. In fact, much of Miss Trunchbull’s bullying behavior is so over the top that the majority of the kids in the theater just laughed at her ridiculousness.
Simply put, I LOVED this film. It felt modern yet still within the world of Roald Dahl and the dance finale is absolutely insane with tons of talented kids singing and dancing hard.
Mathilda the Musical streams on Netflix starting December 25, 2022.