Scattered Thoughts on Matilda the Musical Movie (2022)

We saw the movie adaptation of Matilda the Musical this past April at an advanced screening. Apparently, we were the first audience to see the film…which thrilled my kids. It seems like forever ago.

Even though I was a bookworm as a child, I never got into the Matilda book. For some reason, the characters and story didn’t resonate with me. I loved many of Roald Dahl’s other works, the Charlie Bucket/Willy Wonka books, James and the Giant Peach, Fantastic Mr. Fox.

Despite my lukewarm reaction to the story, the musical adaptation of Matilda that opened in London in 2012 piqued my interest and I bought the cast recording when it was released. Being a musical theater geek, I’ve always been interested in the latest shows. Except the songs didn’t appeal to me..nor did its Tony Award performance a year later when it landed on Broadway…so I didn’t see the show when the national tour arrived in Southern California,

Fast forward to this past spring… When the screening invitation arrived…I accepted it for my kids’ sake. Ashley was singing “When I Grow Up” from Matilda in her voice lessons, and Josh had enjoyed reading the book in second grade. They were really excited.

When we arrived for the screening, we went through a screening of our own. Each audience member was asked to sign a NDA in which we promised not to discuss the movie or disclose anything about it until after its theatrical release. To ensure we adhered to the agreement, organizers even Googled each person and made note of our social media accounts. Then we surrendered our cell phones for the duration of the movie and entered the theater.

I wanted to like the movie, but when it ended and the audience applauded, it saddened me that I hadn’t loved it as so many others in attendance clearly had. Thought it was extremely well-executed (dance numbers were sublime!) but still felt emotionally detached from the characters and story. As for the songs….didn’t feel strongly one way or another…didn’t exactly like them…but didn’t actively dislike them either.

I guess Matilda is just a story that will never click with me in any incarnation…no matter how much I wish it would.

Afterward we filled out the post-movie survey. I praised Alisha Weir’s performance in the title role, Lashana Lynch as Miss Honey, and the dancing. My chief criticism was that the film felt unnecessarily long (a case with most movies nowadays)…especially for a family film. My three children, Joey, and about 20 others were then asked to stay for an informal chat with the director. I wasn’t cool enough to be asked 🤣 so I wandered the mall until their session ended. 

When I reunited with my family an hour later, Joey said that the director seemed especially interested in hearing feedback from Ashley’s demographic. Not one to shy away from expressing her opinion, Ashley told the director she wished the movie showed Matilda practicing her physical powers. They just seemed to come out of nowhere without any explanation.

On the drive home, our family discussed the movie again. We were especially curious about what changes would be made before it made its debut in 8 months time.

When the movie finally hit Netflix on Christmas, Ashley was so excited to watch it. Right away, we noticed the movie was shorter….several scenes had been cut. A good decision. According to Ashley, a lengthy scene involving Matilda breaking into Trunchbull’s house and another scene with Miss Honey tidying up her classroom were cut. I don’t recall the film that well so I’ll take her word for it.

Ashley was also especially thrilled to see a new scene with…you guessed it…Matilda practicing her powers. Of course she’s taking full credit for this new addition,  🤣 and it was fun to see her light up with excitement at this new scene.

Disenchanted

Disenchanted was the choice for this week’s Friday’s Family Film. It’s the sequel to 2007’s Enchanted which found Amy Adam playing a fairy tale princess-type who is thrust into modern-day New York.

Disenchanted‘s plot was reminiscent of a less witty, squeaky clean Into the Woods with far inferior songs and blander characters. The premise…what comes after “happily ever after.” Giselle and family, which includes token sullen teenager, leave New York behind to settle in the burbs and yadda yadda yadda… Giselle falls under a curse that turns her into an evil stepmother.

We started the evening with five viewers but lost Timmy (12) halfway through the two hour and one minute movie. He grew weary of the forgettable songs and meandering story which leads me to my pet peeve…the movie’s unnecessarily long length. No family film needs to exceed the two hour mark, but it seems today’s directors think extra long = extra good. No thanks. This movie could’ve easily been told in 90 minutes.

Anyway, I didn’t care for the movie for reasons listed above. Also, the Maya Rudolph character was not needed and should’ve been axed.

Ashley (10) liked the movie a lot though and gave it her seal of approval. Nothing scared her, and she never seemed restless.

Sneak Preview

Today our family was part of the first ever audience to see an upcoming movie musical. I’m not allowed to mention the name…had to sign an NDA…but the kiddos were excited. My outgoing Ashley even shared her thoughts with the movie’s creative talent after the screening.

The movie won’t be released until December so it will be a long time for me to keep a secret. I’m terrible at keeping secrets.