(director: Danny DeVito; screenwriters: book by Roald Dahl/Nicholas Kazan/Robin Swicord; cinematographer: Stefan Czapsky    ; editors: Brent White/Lynzee Klingman; music: David Newman; cast: Danny DeVito (Harry Wormwood,narrator), Rhea Perlman (Zinnia Wormwood), Mara Wilson (Matilda Wormwood), Pam Ferris (Agatha Trunchbull), Embeth Davidtz (Jenny Honey), Paul Reubens (Bob, FBI agent), Brian Levinson (Michael Wormwood); Runtime: 93; MPAA Rating: PG; producers: Michael Shamberg/Stacey Sher; TriStar Pictures; 1996)

“A funny kid flick.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Danny DeVito (“Throw Momma From The Train”/”Hoffa”) directs a funny kid flick, about a gifted girl who lives with a dysfunctional family that don’t appreciate her good qualities and have no respect that she reads books. It’s based on the 1988 book by Roald Dahl and is written by Nicholas Kazan and Robin Swicord.

The smart young girl named Matilda (
Mara Wilson) has learned how to use the power of telekinesis for mind control, and uses that power to save her classmates from a bullying and child-hating fascist-like principal, Ms. Trunchbull (Pam Ferris), a former shot-putter.

DeVito is both the sweet-talking narrator and the rotten Harry Wormwood, Matilda’s dishonest used car salesman father. He ignores the geeky Matilda while favoring his inferior older son Michael (Brian Levinson). His selfish wife Zinnia (Rhea Perlman, at the time his real wife) worries about her bleached blonde hair and bingo games more than she does about Matilda.

After skipping kindergarten, Harry enrolls Matilda in Crunchem Hall, a private school. Matilda gets love for being smart from the kind first-grade teacher Jenny Honey (
Embeth Davidtz), who is bullied by her aunt, the principal.

There’s a happy ending when Matilda uses her smarts and powers to save her classmates and favorite teacher from the monster principal.

When her criminal dad runs away to escape the law from being charged with shady dealings, Matilda is taken in by Miss Honey.
This serves as a happy ending.