Things In Matilda Only Adults Notice
Matilda is one of those childhood movies that brings back nothing but good memories, lots of laughs, and reminders of a simpler time when your imagination could just run wild. The classic 1996 film, based on the Roald Dahl book of the same name, follows a precocious young girl named Matilda as she battles the evil grown-ups in her life. There are FBI agents, an exploding television, children getting yanked by their pigtails, and chocolate, so really, what’s not to love?
However, there are some things in Matilda that only adults will notice, and, if you find yourself rewatching the children’s movie, you’ll definitely be surprised what you missed as a kid. Sure, the movie is fictional and magic powers aren’t real, but Matilda always felt somewhat realistic as a kid. And even though you would never actually superglue your dad’s hat to his head, it looked pretty funny in the movie.
The narrator in Matilda is voiced by the actor who played Matilda’s dad
One of the best things about Matilda is the cast, and even kids can appreciate that. Matilda herself is played by the spunky and adorable Mara Wilson, who definitely brings so much to the role. Then, there are Matilda’s parents, played by It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia‘s Danny DeVito and Cheers‘ Rhea Perlman, two comedic geniuses. The fact that DeVito and Perlman were together in real life only makes their parts in the film that much better.
But the pièce de résistance is the fact that DeVito is also the voice of the narrator. As a kid, when you watch Matilda, the narrator’s voice isn’t really all that important to you. But when you watch Matilda as an adult, you can’t help but notice that DeVito, who also directed the movie, is the voice of the very wise, often-times hilarious narrator who introduces the viewers to Matilda and her entire world. It’s a pretty brilliant move by DeVito, as Matilda’s dad is not that nice of a character, while the narrator is totally on Matilda’s side.
How did Matilda’s parents not get reported to Child Protective Services?
Obviously, Matilda is fictional, and the things that happen in the movie (as well as in the book) are totally pretend. When you watch Matilda as a kid, that’s what makes it so exciting and fun to watch. But as an adult, you can’t help but detect some instances in the movie that really aren’t okay. For instance, how did Matilda’s parents not get reported to Child Protective Services? They obviously weren’t very nice people, but they also put their daughter in some serious danger.
In the opening scene of the movie when Matilda is just a newborn baby, her parents throw her into the back of their car without even fastening the car seat in. Then, they leave her in the car when they get home. And that’s not to mention all the times when Matilda’s parents left her alone when she was only a toddler. Basically, the adults in this movie are awful, and that’s something only other adults could truly understand.
Did Matilda’s mom only try to make money by playing bingo?
One of the biggest plot details in Matilda is that the title character’s dad owns a used car lot and seriously rips off his customers. However, something that you probably overlooked in Matilda when you were a kid is how her mom’s job seems to be playing bingo. At the start of the movie, the narrator explains that Matilda’s mother "took off to play bingo."
Additionally, in another scene in the movie, Matilda’s mom, Mrs. Wormwood, pulls her car up and screams, "I hit the double bingo!" and takes the entire family out to a fancy lunch. As a kid, you might not have thought much of that, but, as an adult, you can’t help but wonder: Did Matilda’s mom really go play bingo every day? Apparently, that was how she made money and supported her family, which definitely goes to show just how interesting the family dynamics were in the film. A kid watching Matilda might not see anything wrong with that, but an adult would definitely raise an eyebrow.
Matilda’s independence probably isn’t the best example for kids to follow
When you watched Matilda as a child, there was something so fantastical about how the young girl was able to move objects around her and basically take care of herself. It’s pretty impressive, actually, but, when you watch the movie as an adult, there’s also quite a bit of danger involved in how Matilda lives.
For instance, when Matilda’s parents leave her home alone all day with nothing but a can of soup, that obviously isn’t great parenting. On the other hand, Matilda then making homemade pancakes, unsupervised when she was only a toddler also wasn’t all that great. In fact, adults might not be able to help but wonder whether Matilda’s independence is the best example for kids to follow. Adults know that the movie is fictional and that children definitely shouldn’t be allowed to cook by themselves at such a young age, but kids might not understand that. That’s pretty dangerous.
The Matilda scene in Miss Trunchbull’s house is probably scarier than any horror movie out there
Though Matilda is a children’s movie and has a lot of humorous, heartwarming, and sweet moments, there are also some examples of the film being downright terrifying. Specifically, the scene when Matilda and Ms. Honey break into Miss Trunchbull’s home and almost get caught is probably scarier than any horror movie out there.
Honestly, as an adult, the scene is seriously horrifying, so how must it feel to a kid watching it? The dramatic music, Trunchbull yelling, "Who’s in my house?!" in her big, thundering voice, Matilda’s heaving breathing as she hides under the table — it’s all super theatrical and more intense than anything Stephen King could ever imagine. Just like when Matilda’s parents leave her home alone or when she walks to the library by herself on busy streets filled with traffic, this scene might not be the most kid-friendly.
Matilda punishing her parents wasn’t the best lesson for kids
It’s no secret that Matilda’s parents are kind of the worst. Sure, Matilda’s mom gave birth to her and Matilda’s parents provided a home and food for her, but that’s pretty much it. So, when Matilda decides to punish her dad for being a jerk, it’s easy to side with the young girl. However, is that really the best lesson to teach kids?
Kids might get the wrong ideaI watching the scenes in which Matilda bleaches her dad’s hair and puts superglue on her dad’s hat. Though Matilda’s father told her that "when a person is bad, that person has to be punished," that isn’t to say that all kids should go around pranking and torturing their parents. Matilda’s parents are definitely not innocent here, and, since it’s a movie, the scenes may make for some funny moments. But an adult watching Matilda knows that kids shouldn’t take those scenes too seriously or try to follow in Matilda’s footsteps.
Matilda’s school should definitely have been shut down a long time ago
Matilda may be a work of fiction, but, for the most part, the movie is pretty believable, even for adults watching. Sure, Matilda’s magical powers are a bit of a reach, but the story about a precocious little girl who loves to read and teaches evil adults a lesson or two along the way could be considered real enough.
However, one aspect of Matilda that kids probably don’t think too much about when they watch it is just how unrealistic it is that the school Matilda goes to wasn’t shut down. The principal threw a girl across the lawn by her pigtails in one awful scene, and yet nothing happened. While the parents might not believe their children’s stories about an evil principal who locks them in a chokey, surely the other teachers would know what was going on, right? Obviously, Ms. Honey is too caught up in being afraid that Miss Trunchbull would hurt her or fire her to say anything, but shouldn’t another teacher or a substitute teacher have called the authorities a long time ago?
How are the FBI agents so clueless in Matilda?
Perhaps one of the reasons why Matilda is such a popular children’s movie is because most of the adults in the film are evil, mean, or just plain stupid. Kids can definitely find the humor in that, and adults can as well. However, something a kid might not notice or care to notice is that the FBI agents in the movie are seriously clueless.
The agents, who are spying on Matilda’s dad to try and catch him in the act of buying stolen car parts, don’t do a very good job of staying undercover. In fact, it doesn’t take young Matilda very long to realize that they’re agents, and she even manages to distract them from her dad’s dirty dealings in one scene. What kind of federal worker would be outsmarted by a young child? Well, in Matilda, anything is possible. The agents might be funny for kids watching Matilda, but adults know that that would never fly.
Matilda’s dad was a really bad person
When you think about the fact that Matilda’s father, Mr. Wormwood, was more concerned with the cost of having a baby than actually having a baby, it’s no wonder that he wasn’t a great guy. In fact, that’s really an understatement. Matilda’s father wasn’t just a bad father, a grumpy husband, and an all-around selfish person, but he was also a corrupt criminal.
There’s a reason the FBI was after Mr. Wormwood, and it wasn’t just because he was buying stolen car parts, although that definitely wasn’t an example of stellar business ethics. In addition to Matilda’s dad getting his hands on stolen car parts, he’s also tricked his customers into thinking the car they were buying was better, newer, and worth more than it actually was. Mr. Wormwood participated in illegal activities and was just a crummy business owner who took advantage of people looking for a good deal on a used car. In short, he was the worst.
Ms. Honey was a seriously dedicated teacher in Matilda
When kids watch Matilda and see the little girl’s teacher, Ms. Honey, they probably don’t think too much about it. After all, children aren’t all that interested in teachers. However, when you watch Matilda as an adult, Ms. Honey becomes a seriously inspiring character because she’s such an incredibly dedicated teacher.
Not only did Ms. Honey overcome a super hard, painful childhood full of trauma and heartbreak, but she turned into a sweet, caring woman. In one scene, Ms. Honey takes time out of her evening to visit Matilda’s house and speak to her parents. Even though the Wormwoods have no interest in how their daughter is doing at school, Ms. Honey stuck to her goal to leave a book for the little girl. Not just any teacher would do that, and only an adult would recognize the extra work Ms. Honey puts into teaching her students. Ms. Honey is really the only good adult in Matilda, and that’s something a kid just wouldn’t really care to think about.
That cake-eating scene in Matilda was seriously traumatizing
One of the most iconic scenes in Matilda is the cake scene. If you’ve seen the movie, you know exactly what part of the film that is and you can probably recall how traumatizing it was, even if you only saw Matilda once when you were a kid. The scene features a student at Matilda’s school, Bruce Bogtrotter, who is accused of eating the Miss Trunchbull’s chocolate cake. Bruce pleads guilty to the act, but, instead of giving him detention or calling his parents, Miss Trunchbull has Bruce sit on the auditorium stage in front of the entire school while she forces him to eat an entire chocolate cake that’s almost as big as he is.
It’s ridiculous and would never actually happen in real life (at least, hopefully not!), but, when you’re a kid watching Matilda, you just think it’s funny and shows how cruel Trunchbull is. When you’re an adult though, you can’t help but notice how disgusting that must have been and you probably want to vomit just from watching it.
That Moby Dick joke in Matilda was spot-on
Many children’s movies are self-aware enough to throw some adult humor in there so that the parents who take their kids to watch the movie have something to laugh at. Matilda doesn’t really have a lot of adult humor moments, but there is one joke that you probably didn’t pick up on when you were a kid.
At the start of the movie, when Matilda has started going to the library on her own to get all the books she could ever want, there’s a moment when she’s sitting and reading in the living room. Her family is eating dinner in front of the television, and her dad is apparently not pleased that Matilda is reading instead of watching TV with them. So, he comes over to her and asks what she’s reading. When she explains that she’s reading the classic novel Moby Dick, her dad responds with, "Moby what?" Get it? Honestly, it’s pretty hilarious. After all, what parent wouldn’t be upset to hear that word coming from their young child’s mouth? It’s definitely something only adults would pick up on.
Matilda’s brother was kind of the worst
When you watch Matilda as a kid, so much of your attention was probably on the mean and evil grown-ups in the movie. From Matilda’s parents to Miss Trunchbull — and all the adults who apparently didn’t care what went on at Matilda’s school — it’s clear that most of the adults sucked. However, that isn’t to say that there weren’t any awful kids in the film. Specifically, Matilda’s older brother was kind of the worst. Sure, when you watch the movie as a kid, you know he’s mean to his little sister, but it doesn’t seem that bad.
Only when you watch Matilda as an adult do you notice how truly awful Michael Wormwood is. He bullies his younger sister for no reason, doesn’t care when she gets adopted by someone else, and thinks his dad’s criminal activity is totally cool. Basically, he’s the product of his parents, and he will probably grow up to be exactly like his dad, unfortunately.
Okay, but where did all the bad guys in Matilda go?
At the end of Matilda, the spunky young girl and her classmates defeat Miss Trunchbull and force her to leave her home and school in the capable hands of Ms. Honey. Then, when the FBI agents catch up to Matilda’s parents, Ms. Honey adopts Matilda and raises her as her own child, so she can have the mother she’s always wanted and deserved. It’s one of the happiest movie endings out there because Matilda finally got what she wanted: a loving home.
But logistically, adults have to be wondering where the "bad guys" went, right? Trunchbull was an awful human being, and she can’t possibly just be allowed to roam free. What if she started another school and tortured even more kids?! And Matilda’s parents don’t even get punished for all of Mr. Wormwood’s shady business dealings? It’s a little too neat of an ending, but, considering the fact that Matilda is a children’s movie, that’s kind of okay. Not everything has to make sense for adults at the end of the story.