Parents' Guide to


By M. Faust, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 9+

Offbeat dark fantasy gem is intense, sometimes scary.

Movie PG 1996 102 minutes
Matilda Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 8+

Based on 81 parent reviews

age 14+

this movie is inappropriate for young children

Lots of violence; adults themes; abuse and neglect dressed up as humor. This movie was very disturbing to me as a child and I'm disappointed that my daughter watched it at someone else's house. Films with adults torturing children ("the chokey") should come with warning labels.
age 10+

Are you serious with the immense amount of VIOLENCE???

As with all Roald, Dahl books and movie adaptations, it is unusually cruel and violent but more importantly, the protagonists are always evil sociopaths with cartoonish anger and venom. So unfortunate that other than the small message about Matilda showing empathy and compassion for her classmates (at great risk to herself) there is no positive messaging or uplifting plot. The dark “Chockey” with broken glass and sharp nails. and in another scene a girl is thrown over a fence by her pigtails. Come on. That is not for young children under 10 and really not for anyone who appreciates great screenplays and films for kids.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (81 ):
Kids say (119 ):

Based on Roald Dahl's popular book, this fantasy explores themes of youthful independence and personal identity. For younger children, though, especially those having some particularly difficult growing pains, Matilda may nurture morbid thoughts. Matilda is able to free herself from a family that's thoroughly boorish, but kids in real life have to learn to make connections with the people around them and not look for ways to run away. It's a difficult lesson, but most kids will accept that this is an exaggerated fantasy. In fact, the exaggeration is what makes it so much fun. As both star and director, DeVito retains the devilish sense of fun that marks most of his films. Although he hasn't really made a film here for kids (at least not younger ones), he knows how to appeal to and present a child's perspective. However, potentially scary scenes, such as Miss Trunchbull's spinning a girl around by her pigtails, may be too much for sensitive kids.

There are few people who don't sometimes feel unappreciated, misused, and misunderstood. Adolescents are especially prone to such feelings as they come to grips with the world around them. Those are the feelings that this movie recognizes and confronts. Young Matilda has a bum deal with a family that can't begin to understand how special she is. Yet she never lets this get her down for long, always making the best of whatever situation she's in.

Movie Details

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