Matilda (Alisha Weir) was born unwanted and unloved by her selfish and mean parents. She’s a child with extraordinary abilities who loves to read books, much to the annoyance of her parents who would prefer her to watch trashy TV shows. Matilda has a friend in the local librarian, Mrs Phelps (Sindhu Vee), to whom she tells her wildly imaginative stories. One day, Matilda and her parents are visited by the local authority and teacher, Miss Honey (Lashana Lynch), with whom Matilda forms an instant bond. They decide that Matilda needs to attend school.
Matilda is excited about starting school at Crunchen Hall but is shocked to find that it’s run by a most fearsome head teacher, Miss Trunchbull (Emma Thompson). The students all live in fear of her and her extreme forms of punishments. One of which is isolation in the Chokey – a wooden contraption with chains situated in the woods. Matilda’s high intelligence makes her question the goings on at the school and she dares to stand up to Miss Trunchbull, becoming even bolder when she realises she has the power to move objects with her eyes. Matilda becomes an inspiration to the other students who eventually all revolt against the authoritarian and extremely nasty, Trunchbull.
Cruelty to children; neglect of children; telekinesis powers
Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical has some violence. For example:
- Mr and Mrs Wormwood constantly fight about money and other matters.
- Mr Wormwood yells at Matilda.
- Miss Trunchbull picks up a student by her pigtails, whorls her around in the air and throws her over a wall. She gets one of the students to check whether she’s still alive.
- Matilda watches her Mum and Dad fight.
- A student is made to eat a whole cake because he stole a piece. He is then sent to the Chokey.
- The escapologist frees his acrobat wife just in time before a device explodes, but she slips from his hand and falls to the ground. She breaks every bone in her body. She goes on to have her baby but dies afterwards.
- Father picks up Matilda and throws her into her attic bedroom.
- Miss Trunchbull pulls a child out of the mud and drops her on the ground. She picks another child up by the feet and drops him too.
- Miss Trunchbull picks a boy up by his ears which stretch really long.
- With her powers, Matilda gathers all of the chains from the Chokeys and they resemble a large monster which smashes all of the Chokeys.
Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical has some sexual references. For example there are references to pregnancy and childbirth, and Mrs Wormwood dresses in a provocative manner.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical has some substance use, including drinking cocktails at home.
Nudity and sexual activity
There’s no nudity and sexual activity in Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical.
Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical has some product placement. For example the following products are displayed or used: Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, Curly Wurlys, Walkers.
Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical has some coarse language, insults and name calling, including ‘idiot’, ‘snotball’, ‘evil incarnate’, ‘pathetic’, ‘snivelling’ and ‘like hell’.
Ideas to discuss with your children
Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical is a cinematic version of the recent musical stage play, featuring the music of Tim Minchin. The cast of actors are wonderful, including Emma Thompson as the most fearsome Miss Trunchbull. The core of the story is a dark tale of child abuse, neglect and cruelty. However, the triumph of the human spirit comes through Matilda, who overcomes and defeats all of her powerful enemies through strong willpower, intelligence and extra sensory powers. The film has themes, violence and scary scenes that make it unsuitable for children under 8 years, and we recommend parental guidance for children aged 8-9 years. The movie is best suited for children aged over 9 years.
The main messages from Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical are that sometimes you have to disobey those in authority when you know they are wrong, and that you have determination over your own story.
Values in Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical that you may wish to reinforce with your children include,
- The benefits of reading.
- Children needing love, respect and care.
- Using your brain to solve problems.
Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical could also give you the chance to talk with your children about the real-life consequences of things. Matilda says that not all stories have happy endings, which is true in real life. It might be an opportunity to discuss sad outcomes. Matilda and Miss Honey are both badly treated as children. You could also talk about the fact that some children need outside help to make their lives better.