Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical Parent Guide
With a memorable score, good script and outstanding actors, this is a fun, vivid adaptation of the classic novel.
Parent Movie Review
The birth of a first child is a pivotal event – except for Mr. and Mrs. Wormwood (Stephen Graham and Andrea Riseborough). Although Matilda (Alisha Weir) is an uncommonly bright and conscientious child, her parents would rather she disappeared altogether.
Matilda is more than just clever – she’s a genius. Having taught herself to read, she spends her lonely days perusing everything from Charles Dickens to Fyodor Dostoevsky. Once she goes off to school, though, Mr. Wormwood has every confidence that the headmistress, Ms. Trunchbull (Emma Thompson), will make sure Matilda is as miserable as possible. The Trunchbull, as she’s known by the student body, is a massive, domineering woman with all the charm of a prison warden and half the kindness. In contrast, Matilda’s teacher, Ms. Honey (Lashana Lynch) is a wonderful woman who wants nothing more than to nurture and support her students. Ms. Honey is blown away by Matilda’s advanced intellect and hopes to give her more advanced lessons. But the Trunchbull has other ideas…
I’m always wary of film adaptations of books, and doubly so when they’re musicals, so when I tell you that this movie is fun, that’s saying a lot. The adaptation is reasonably faithful to the novel, and the deviations from Dahl’s work are both interesting and tonally consistent. Even better, the music is fun. A lot of musicals feel blandly similar, but songwriter Tim Minchin did a great job with the soundtrack. In script and score alone, this movie defied all my expectations.
The feather in the film’s cap is the cast. The last time I saw Lashana Lynch was in The Woman King, and she spent most of her time in the movie screaming and stabbing people. Somehow, she is equally convincing as the softspoken Ms. Honey. And, if you can look past the extensive prosthetics, Emma Thompson is clearly having a little too much fun in her role as the villain of the piece, and it’s contagious. I even like the child actors, who manage to deliver their lines convincingly and learn some complex choreography.
This production is geared at kids, and the content reflects that with no sexual content and only minor profanity. Of course, since this is a Roald Dahl story, it shuns sugary sweetness, and some kids are faced with absolutely insane threats of violence. Chief among these is “The Chokey”, a sort of Iron Maiden the Trunchbull keeps around for discipline. (I’m not sure what mild content you expected here: Dahl had a kid put in a juicer in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.) But apart from that, parents have very little to worry about – for them or their offspring. Matilda the Musical is one of those rare kids’ films that adults are likely not only to tolerate but even enjoy. There weren’t any children in the theater I attended, and I still heard plenty of laughs.
Directed by Matthew Warchus. Starring Alisha Weir , Andrea Riseborough, Emma Thompson. Running time: 117 minutes. Theatrical release December 14, 2022. Updated December 15, 2022
Watch the trailer for Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical
Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical
Rating & Content Info
Why is Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical rated PG? Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical is rated PG by the MPAA for thematic elements, exaggerated bullying and some language.
Violence: Children are thrown around and threatened with brutal punishment. A woman dies in hospital.
Sexual Content: None.
Profanity: There are several uses of mild curses.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Adult characters are seen pouring drinks, but not actually drinking.
Page last updated December 15, 2022
Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical Parents' Guide
Mrs. Phelps, the librarian, tells Matilda that bullies rely on your silence to win. Who can you tell if you’re being bullied or hurt?
Matilda sings about the importance of being naughty in the right situations. What does she mean by that? Is there such a thing as “good trouble”? In which contexts?
Matilda’s relationship with her parents is difficult, to say the least. How does she end up moving on? What does this say about the importance of family – even if it’s not a family with the people who gave birth to us?
Loved this movie? Try these books…
Roald Dahl wrote many books for children, including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Witches, The BFG, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Twits, The Magic Finger, Esio Trot, George’s Marvelous Medicine, and James and the Giant Peach.