Adapted from the long-running stage show, this uneven but sporadically highly entertaining film combines Dahl’s darkness with the cutting, very British lyrics of our very own Tim Minchin.
It begins with Miracle, a grand song-and-dance routine set in a maternity ward, where the lush, Busby Berkeley-influenced staging is at exciting odds with the lyrical mirage of new parents’ vanity. When one of the babies grows up to be an abused child, Minchin delivers his catchiest song.
“Just because you find life isn’t fair doesn’t mean you have to smile and bear it. Weir) who has been banished to the attic by her vile parents (Andrea Riseborough and Stephen Graham).
After casually demolishing a more famous sermon on the virtues of the “meek,” Matilda brings her revolutionary attitude and telekinetic powers (she can move things with her mind) to her first school.
There, he finds out that the school bully is the principal. Former hammer throwing champion Miss Trunchbull (Emma Thompson, who gets it on with prosthetics) puts naughty boys in cells and throws innocent girls across the playground by their pigtails.
The kids, the lyrics and the choreography are great. However, Matthew Warchus (who also directed the play) tries too hard to fill the big screen. Instead of ditching a few songs to give his characters room to breathe, he ups the ante with fun fairs, hot air balloons, and kids on motorcycles.
I missed the measured sweetness of DeVito’s version. Over two hours out of breath, this Matilda can be a bit exhausting.
- Roald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical, Cert PG, Now in Theaters
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