Everyone’s got that favorite childhood film — maybe even the tattered VHS version stowed away in your parents’ basement — that you could watch over and over again, even though you didn’t necessarily understand all the jokes or adult character dialogue. It’s that one film where the imagery sticks like fly paper to your brain and affirms some special truth you believed about your kidself. For me, that film is 1996’s Matilda, directed by Danny DeVito, starring Mara Wilson, Rhea Perlman, Embeth Davidtz, and also DeVito, and based on the Roald Dahl novel.
Much like (and even pre-dating) another kid-with-special-powers, Matilda is a little girl with a big brain and an even bigger love of books. Oh, and she’s also telekinetic. But she uses her mind power for good — to right the wrongs of all the evil adults in her life.
In the beginning, Danny DeVito narrates and perfectly sets up the film’s ethos: “Everyone is born, but not everyone is born the same. Some will grow to be butchers, or bakers, or candlestick makers. Some will only be really good at making Jell-O salad. One way or another, though, every human being is unique, for better or for worse. “
Matilda was my hero growing up, and I’m sure she was a favorite with little ones who loved reading books larger than their body frames, shy kids, introverts, and anyone who felt like an outcast in their families/communities.
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