This Should’ve Won An Oscar: Rewatching Matilda

We’d never dream of doing an entire Matilda Week without rewatching the movie. Dare I say, this week was one part celebration of one of our favorite books and movies, one part commemoration of Roald Dahl’s 100th birthday, and one part excuse to watch Matilda again. Like us, the movie has aged very well and is a constant delight. Here were some of our thoughts as we watched it:

This Should’ve Won An Oscar

In general, I think the cinematography is A+. Every scene can be taken as a still shot and look like a piece of art. Danny uses a lot of overhead shots and creative angles when need be, and I appreciate that when Matilda’s younger, there are a lot of camera shots taken from her point of view

I Forgot About 90s Film Quality

Maybe my DVD isn’t ~digitally remastered but I’m shocked by how dull and fuzzy this is.

Truly, Truly Iconic Scene

A+++ Casting On Young Matilda

During our last blog meeting we went on a search for the younger versions of Matilda. Here is Caitlin Fein (one of the toddler Matildas) now:

And here is Mara Wilson now:

Good work, C.S.A.

#RIPMrsPhelpsTheLibrarian

Do you guys ever watch movies from the 90s and see an old person and think, ‘He/she is probs dead.’ Then feel really sad because it’s true? (This actress died in 2000).

Likewise, anyone who was a small child is now an adult. Obviously we know that Mara Wilson has always been roughly our age, but baby Matilda? You saw how old she is.

Harry Wormwood Is The Worst

“Listen, you little wiseacre: I’m smart, you’re dumb; I’m big, you’re little; I’m right, you’re wrong, and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

Harry Wormwood, the worst

Dark Matilda

You know, if this movie was cut differently, it could easily be a prequel to The Orphan or basically any horror movie which features a little girl as the demon. OH LOOK SOMEONE’S DONE THAT ALREADY. LIKE, MULTIPLE TIMES.

Plus, taking the magical powers out of it, even if you’re the loveliest teacher ever you don’t just get to KEEP THE KID THAT YOU LIKE. This movie definitely demands a dark recut.

Also Lissy Doll is a dead ringer for Matilda which is very Are You Afraid Of The Dark, if you ask me.

Michael Wormwood Is Dudley Dursely

And Matilda’s parents are Vernon and Petunia. Miss Honey is Dumbledore, but also Hagrid and Sirius.

Matilda is probably a Gryffindor but you can make an argument for Ravenclaw. Lavender is a Hufflepuff. I think Miss Honey has some Hufflepuff traits but she’s mainly brave, so Gryffindor.

Do We Think It’s Weird That This Is Set In The USA?

Roald Dahl is such a beloved British treasure that it feels kind of odd that this is set in the USA. I’m not exactly complaining because this movie is so perfect that I wouldn’t wish away any of it. I bet if this movie were made today there would be a big outcry about exporting it to the US and it would have been set in the UK instead.

To translate Crunchem School to the US system they had to create this weird public school that’s sort of like a bizarre private school. It all contributes to the storybook quality of the movie, so it’s fine.

Romper Room

I know what rompers are in modern fashion parlance but I always imagine those baggy calico overalls that Pigtail Amanda wears.

“You Chose Books, I Chose Looks”

Mrs. Wormwood’s taunt reminds me of something a snotty girl would have said in second grade. Also joke’s on her, Miss Honey is a fox and everybody knows it.

Cake By The Pound

“It’s hard for me to remember a specific cake.” Bruce Bogtrotter spittin the truth

I continue to think that chocolate cake looks like the best chocolate cake ever made (apparently the actor who played Bruce didn’t really like cake much, and Danny had his baker friend create a Magnolia Bakery-esque cake for the scene).

“I can’t look, is he going to puke?” – little Lavender’s delivery of this line is one of the best things in the whole movie, and that’s saying something.

Truncuhbull’s Not Wrong

Mrs. D. Mrs. I.
Mrs. F. F. I.
Mrs. C. Mrs. U.
Mrs. L. T. Y.

…why are all these women married?

This Score Is Perfect

Whether it’s the suspenseful music when they’re in Truncuhbull’s (ahem.. rightfully Miss Honey’s) House or the jaunty tune when Bruce is gorging on cake, this is a masterpiece and we’re retroactively annoyed about the missing Oscar. Did you ever notice that 90s kids’ movies, like Matilda, Home Alone, and The Parent Trap, had phenomenal scores, like filmmakers realized children could appreciate good things?

By the way, if you loved a movie in the 90s there’s an excellent chance David Newman was responsible for the score.

The 1972 Olympics

Trunchbull competed in the 1972 Olympics. This film was released in 1996. Ergo, the 2016 equivalent would be a principal who competed in the 1992 Olympics, which I can sort-of remember. Woof.

By the by, Trunchbull’s build is sort of a take on those poor East German athletes who were forced to take a lot of hormones, I think.

PeeWee Herman

… is in this??? I’m honestly not even including this as a thing you probably don’t know about Matilda. I’m just shocked I never noticed this.

Danny DeVito Is A Prince

You know the too-cute scene where Matilda dances around to Little Bitty Pretty One making objects move? In the behind the scenes footage, DeVito explains that Mara was a little nervous about doing that scene. He said “you know why? Because you’re the only one dancing” and made everyone on set – down to craft services – dance. I did some acting as a kid and a lot of adults just didn’t understand how kids think, but it seems like DeVito GOT IT and created a set that was every bit as magical as the movie.

I Don’t Think You’re Ready…

“Absolutely not, Molly” – My mother, Aisle 12 of Wegmans, 1995.

The Wormwoods have that peanut butter and jelly that is all swirled together in one jar and seriously they WOULD.

I Have Another Oscar Complaint

I want there to be a category for extras and bit players and I want it retroactively awarded to the children in Matilda’s class during the Trunchbull revenge scene.

We don’t need to talk about the special effects during that scene. They were doing their best.

Send Me On My Way

The closing scene is so perfect there’s nothing to say about it, so we’re just going to send you on your way.

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Matilda Is Our Aesthetic

It’s always difficult turning a beloved book into a big screen movie. Not only do you have to do justice to the original author and their work, but it’s equally important to not completely screw up a story that millions of readers have come to love. The very magic of books is that you get to use your imagination to create your own version of the world that the author presents to you, and not everyone will have the same exact vision in their heads (see: Hermione). So when it comes to adapting novels into movies, there’s a fine line between disaster and huge success.

Luckily, we think the film version of Matilda falls into the latter category, and presented us with a magical world that was still grounded in reality, and appealed to us both as 10 years olds and 30 year olds rewatching the film in present day (PS: it’s Molly’s 30th birthday TODAY!). Here are some of our favorite aesthetics from the outstanding adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic that lived up to the images in our head, and in some cases, even surpassed them.

TBH, the entire pancake scene is our aesthetic, but I love this little touch Matilda adds when she sits down to eat breakfast by herself. I’ve never even done this and I am an “adult”.

Despite Wormwood Motors being a complete sham, I love how many colors the production designer and director Danny DeVito incorporated into this look. It actually seems like a reputable business, which is exactly what Mr. Wormwood wants you to think.

I was never one to make headbands out of satin ribbon, but I always admired those who did. This tells us a couple things about Matilda: she learned how to do this herself, because her mom certainly wasn’t going to teach her. And second, she’s the type of kid who takes pleasure in taking her time. A lot of people wouldn’t spend the extra minute to perfect their hair accessory, but Matilda appreciates even the smallest things in life, something we can all aspire to do.

Because who doesn’t love a good solo dance party? This is why you have superpowers. For this alone.

Just kidding. Also use superpowers to have desserts come directly to your person.

I know the phrase iconic gets tossed around a lot but the blue peter pan collar dress with the red ribbon was iconic, no? A moment of appreciation for the costume designers: although some of the kids’ outfits look 90s in a GOOD way, they mostly stuck to a classic template that makes Matilda fresh and watchable 20 years later. I’d still dress a kid like this.

JENNIFER. HONEY. We talked a bit about her aesthetic here but the main thing is, again, the wardrobe department’s choice of classic designs. Also these glasses. All day long, these glasses.

The end of the movie where Matilda lives with Miss Honey and they both have a family and they’re all dressed down in their straw hats and overalls? And Send Me On My Way plays? And everything is going to be light and happy for them from now on? Is also our aesthetic. When I watch the movie as an adult, the last scenes always make me think of how Matilda’s life would be after moving in with Miss Honey – how awesome her high school years would be with a supportive parent to help her explore learning, and Matilda going back home during college breaks and having talks with Miss Honey as adults, and now-30-year-old Matilda doing whatever amazing things she’s doing, but always going home to catch up and opening her mail to find just-because cards from Miss Honey with, like, $5 in them.

Two reasons to have Matilda carry her books home in a wagon: (1) She had a LOT of books; (2) Children pulling wagons behind them is ADORABLE.

PS, Matilda has cute shoes.

Lavender (Kiami Davael) might be one of the cutest children ever but let’s take a moment to appreciate her very on-trend-for-2016 braided hairdo and also how darling children in glasses are. If I have children I hope they can’t see very well, because this is precious (JK if I have children I hope they can see well).

The tiny, tidy cottage with the wildflowers actually looks more appealing than the Trunchbull Mansion they move into at the end.

Some of the timeless appeal of Matilda’s set design is actually because it’s dated: this isn’t a 90s living room, it’s a pastiche of 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s middle-class garishness. Those people who replace the siding on their porch with shiny stone and their wooden banisters with elaborate wrought iron? That’s the Wormwoods.

We are nerds who truly enjoyed the beginning of school because that meant new school supplies. Matilda had a composition notebook ready to go before her dad even told her she was going to school for the first time. This is our kind of gal.

Lit’rally me: