‘Matilda the Musical’ review: This is how you do a stage-to-screen adaptation ★★★★☆

3 mins read

Matthew Warchus’ screen adaptation of the West End and Broadway hit, Matilda the Musical, is lively and enchanting.

Based on the Roald Dahl book of the same name, Matilda the Musical is the story of a precocious little girl with psychokinetic powers who, along with the support of her warm-hearted teacher Miss Honey, tries to stop the evil headmistress of Crunchem Hall, ‘The’ (Agatha) Trunchbull.

Matthew Warchus, director of the stage adaption of the musical, brings the film to life with great results. This is how you do a stage-to-screen adaption correctly. It’s colourful and vibrant while never losing the musicality & theatricality that make the stage version such a delight. The performances often feel exaggerated, particularly Emma Thompson’s sinister Miss Trunchbull, who will have you rolling with laughter, or put in the chokey if you disagree with her, and Mr & Mrs Wormwood, played by Stephen Graham & Andrea Riseborough.

While discussing the Wormwoods, however, disappointment comes to mind due to the omission of both their solo songs; ‘Telly’ and ‘Loud’. Two of the funniest numbers on stage and ones that surely would have added an extra comedic oomph to the film. The other musical numbers are here though, with highlights being “Revolting Children”, where the children celebrate after ridding the school of Agatha Trunchbull once and for all, and the heart-breaking, “My House”, performed by Miss Honey (Lashana Lynch).

Some critics have addressed “Miracle” as a fascinating & unusual opening. However, I felt this was possibly the weakest part. It just felt odd and missed out on some dialogue – perhaps to save the film from a higher rating – from Mr and Mrs Wormwood. Okay, I’m going to say it. The Wormwoods in this film? Way underused. We barely see them outside the environment of the house & the over-the-top nature of their onstage personas is missed – add to that their aforementioned cut songs! Luckily, this can be forgiven due to the quality of acting from both actors with the material they ARE given.

Matilda the Musical shows that with the right crew and heart put into them, stage-to-screen adaptions aren’t merely a lost cause and can be nearly as exciting and fun as the shows they’re based on.

Featured Image Credit: Sony Pictures

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Film & Media (Year 1)
Film & TV & Music Writer

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