Alisha Weir as Matilda Wormwood in Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical. Photograph: Dan Smith/Netflix

London Film Festival: Emma Thompson makes a grotesque cameo in a new DayGlo adaptation of the tale of the superpowered schoolgirl

This DayGlo movie musical for the opening gala of the London Film Festival features Emma Thompson and Tim Minchin, who together are hilarious, exciting, and just a little bit tiring. It is based on the critically acclaimed stage adaptation of Roald Dahl’s best-selling novel about Matilda, a bright, lonesome youngster with hidden superpowers akin to those of the X-Men who is exiled to a terrible school run by Miss Trunchbull, a hideous disciplinarian who resembles a cross between a weapon and an attack dog.

Weapon-grade … Emma Thompson as Agatha Trunchbull. Photograph: Dan Smith/© 2022 S

Weapon-grade … Emma Thompson as Agatha Trunchbull. Photograph: Dan Smith/© 2022 Sony Pictures UK & Tristar Pictures

Emma Thompson portrays the horrifying Trunchbull, a former Olympic hammer thrower who despises children and has shoulders like the arms of a cheap couch, and she wears bulky prosthetics. naturally, the musical wonder The opening School Song, in which the older students expose Matilda to the horrors in store by means of the alphabet, beginning with “So you think you’re A-ble, / To survive this mess…” to “Just you wait for Phys-Z,” is arguably where Tim Minchin weaves his spell with barnstorming music and lyrics. The foundation of naughtiness of the movie is built on the gloriously sly comedic twins Thompson and Minchin.

In the front courtyard of the school, Miss Trunchbull has a breathtakingly enormous and menacing granite monument of herself with a hammer and bearing the inscription: No Snivelling. When administering physical punishment, she adheres to this norm, once saying, “The ears of small boys do not come off, they just stretch.” Of course, she also needs to use her own hammer-throwing abilities when she has to take a girl by the pigtails and spin her around her head before flinging her over the outer wall. As the hapless youngster crashes with a thud in some distant woods, she exclaims arrogantly, “Still got it!”

Matilda is portrayed by Alisha Weir. She is a free-spirited, literary youngster who is precociously interested in Bront and Dostoevsky but not Shakespeare, which explains why she doesn’t make a comment on the Hamlet-like resemblance in her last name, Wormwood. Andrea Riseborough and Stephen Graham, who portray her horrible parents with a lot of welly, bully and mistreat her. The Dursleys, Harry Potter’s Muggle aunt and uncle, were undoubtedly inspired by this pair of horrifying nouveau-riche provincials, who undoubtedly reveal Roald Dahl’s snobbishness but also have some resemblance to them. The Wormwoods’ claim that they are homeschooling Matilda is not taken seriously by the authorities, and they insisted that she attend Crunchem Hall, a strange neo-Dickensian institution where headmistress Miss Trunchbull rules with an iron fist. But Miss Honey, a kind and wise teacher, is also present (Lashana Lynch). She develops Matilda’s gift, but when Matilda frees the school from Trunchbull’s rule, her terrible secret is exposed.
Similar to Danny DeVito’s previous 1996 film adaptation, this musical closely follows Roald Dahl’s novel. However, it adds an inventive new layer by including some telepathy in addition to Matilda’s telekinesis. The compositional and narrative skills Matilda has demonstrate her extraordinary insight. She begins making up a tale that somehow incorporates Miss Honey’s own background.

The worst part is perhaps when Miss Trunchbull has a kid named Bruce Bogtrotter (Charlie Hodson-Prior) eat the whole chocolate cake in front of everyone as punishment for stealing a little bit of it. Despite the story’s cartoonish craziness, which the movie plays up with its wacky color schemes, Punch-and-Judy aesthetic, and hard, flat lighting, this is a grotesque example of bullying and shaming that continues to haunt Matilda fans because it is so similar to what a toxic teacher might actually do in real life. Matilda is a zesty piece of entertainment that is enthusiastically presented. It’s quite moreish, much like the Wotsits and the Curly-Wurly shown in different situations.

Matilda The Musical will be released by Sony on November 25 in UK theaters and by Netflix on December 9 in the US.

Thanks to at The Guardian whose reporting provided the original basis for this story.

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