Matilda (film)

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Matilda is a 1996 film about a young girl who is extremely smart and loves reading, but faces difficulties in life in the form of her disapproving parents Harry and Zinnia Wormwood plus her terrifying headmistress at school. Matilda soon finds that she has telekinetic powers — she can control things with her mind.

Directed by Danny DeVito. Written by Nicholas Kazan, based on the novel by Roald Dahl.
Somewhere inside all of us is the power to change the world.

Agatha Trunchbull[edit]

  • I am here to teach you all a lesson! [pushes one table] Sometimes in life, horrible and unexplainable things happen. [pushes another table] These things are a test of character. [pushes one more table] And I have character.
  • I have never been able to understand why small children are so disgusting. They're the bane of my life. They're like insects: they should be got rid of as early as possible. [mimics spraying a pesticide] My idea of a perfect school is one in which there are no children...at all.

Dialogue[edit]

[First lines]
Narrator: 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 and special, for better or for worse. Most parents believe their children are the most beautiful creatures ever to grace the planet. Others take a "less emotional" approach.
[Cut to Harry and Zinnia Wormwood about to take a newborn Matilda home from the hospital, with Harry complaining about a hospital bill]
Harry: What a waste of time.
Zinnia: And painful.
Harry: And expensive. $9.25 for a bar of soap?
Zinnia: Well, I had to take a shower, Harry.
Harry: $5,000?! I'm not paying it! What are they gonna do, repossess the kid?

Harry: Any packages come today?
Matilda: [shakes her head] Mm-mm.
Harry: [noticing her books] Where did all this come from?
Matilda: The library.
Harry: The library? You've never set foot in a library; you're only four years old.
Matilda: Six-and-a-half.
Harry: You're four!
Matilda: Six-and-a-half!
Harry: If you were six-and-a-half, you'd be in school already!
Matilda: I want to be in school. I told you I was supposed to start school in September. You wouldn't listen.
Harry: Get up. Get up. Get out of here. Give me that book.
(He throws the book aside, and leads Matilda to where Zinnia is)
Harry: Dearest pie, how old is Matilda?
Zinnia: Four.
Matilda: I'm six-and-a-half, Mommy.
Zinnia: Five, then!
Matilda: I was six in August.
Harry: You're a liar!
Matilda: I want to go to school.
Harry: School? It's out of the question. Who would be here to sign for the packages? We can't leave valuable packages sitting out on the doorstep. Now go watch TV like a good kid.
[Matilda leaves]
Zinnia: You know, sometimes I think there's something wrong with that girl.
Harry: Hmph, tell me about it.

[Harry comes home after another successful day of selling inherently faulty used cars and ripping off the buyers]
Harry: I'm great! I'm incredible! Michael, pencil and paper, in the kitchen.
Zinnia: Did we sell some cars today?
Harry: [grins] Did we?
Zinnia: Does that mean we can get that new TV?
Harry: Yeah. [to Mike] Son, one day you're going to have to earn your own living. It's time you learned the family business. Sit down. Write this down. All right. The first car your brilliant father sold cost $320. I sold it for $1,158. The second one cost $512. I sold it for $2,269.
Mike: Wait, Dad. You're going too fast!
Harry: Just write. The third cost $68. I sold it for $999. And the fourth cost $1,100. I sold it for 7,839 big American boffos!
Zinnia: Oh, Harry! [kisses him]
Harry: What was my total profit for the day?
Mike: Could you repeat the last one?
Matilda: [interrupting] $10,265. [long pause] Check it, if you don't believe me.
[Harry, Zinnia, and Mike all check the paper, and find it to be correct]
Harry: You're a little cheat, you saw the paper.
Matilda: From all the way over here?
Harry: [pause] Are you being smart with me? If you're being smart with me, young lady, you're gonna be punished!
Matilda: Punished for being smart?
Harry: For being a smart aleck! When a person is bad, that person has to be taught a lesson.
Matilda: "Person"?
Harry: Get up, get up! [takes her to her room]
Narrator: Harry Wormwood had, unintentionally, given his daughter the first practical advice she could use. He had meant to say, "When a child is bad." Instead, he said; "When a person is bad." And thereby introduced a revolutionary idea that children could punish their parents. Only when they deserved it, of course.

[As Harry demonstrates his corrupt used car selling business to Mike]
Matilda: Daddy, you're a crook.
Harry: What?
Matilda: This is illegal.
Harry: [to Mike] You keep drilling. [to Matilda] Do you make money? Do you have a job?
Matilda: No, but don't people need good cars? Can't you sell good cars, Dad?
Harry: Listen, you little wise acre! I'm smart, you're dumb, I'm big, you're little, I'm right, you're wrong! And there's nothing you can do about it!

[The Trunchbull visits Wormwood's dealer]
Ms. Trunchbull: I need a car, inexpensive but reliable. Can you service me?
Harry: In a manner of speaking, yes. Uh, welcome to Wormwood Motors. Harry Wormwood, owner, founder, whatever.
Ms. Trunchbull: Agatha Trunchbull, principal, Crunchem Hall Elementary School.
Harry: Huh?
Ms. Trunchbull: I warn you, sir: I want a tight car, because I run a tight ship.
Harry: [slightly nervous] Oh, yeah, huh? Well, uh--
Ms. Trunchbull: My school is a model of discipline. "Use the rod, beat the child!" That's my motto.
Harry: Terrific motto.
Ms. Trunchbull: You have brats yourself?
Harry: Yeah, I got a boy, Mikey, and one mistake, Matilda.
Ms. Trunchbull: They're all mistakes, children. Filthy, nasty things. Glad I never was one.
Harry: Uh-huh... Well, Since you're an educator, I'll make you a great deal.
Ms. Trunchbull: You had better.
Harr: Let's do business.

Ms. Trunchbull: Yippie! Got you right in the neck! [cackles] Yes! [Miss Honey knocks on the door] Come in, come in, whoever you are. [Miss Honey opens the door, and nearly gets hit by one of the Trunchbull's darts] Ah, almost got you. Good to see you, Jen. Good, good, good. Time for one of our little "heart-to-hearts"?
Miss Honey: Actually, it's about the new girl in my class, Ms. Trunchbull. Matilda Wormwood.
Ms. Trunchbull: Her father says she's a real wart.
Miss Honey: A what?
Ms. Trunchbull: A carbuncle, a blister, a festering pustule of malignant ooze.
Miss Honey: Oh, no, Matilda Wormwood is a very sweet girl, and very bright.
Ms. Trunchbull: [incredulous] A "bright child"?
Miss Honey: Yes. She can multiply large sums in her head.
Ms. Trunchbull: So can a calculator.
Miss Honey: Well, I think she might be happier in an older, and more advanced class...
Ms. Trunchbull: [sneers] Ah, I knew it! You can't handle the little viper, so you're trying to foist her off onto one of the other teachers!
Miss Honey: No, no, no, Ms--
Ms. Trunchbull: Yes! Typical, slothful cowardice! Listen to me, Jen. [grabs a shot-put] The distance the shot-put goes depends upon the effort you put into it... perspiration! If you can't handle the little brat, I'LL LOCK HER IN THE CHOKEY! [roars as she throws the shot-put across the room potentially to puncture it] Get it?
Miss Honey: [terrified] Yes, ma'am.
Ms. Trunchbull: One day, Jen, you'll see that everything I do is for your own good. And the good of those putrescent little children!

Zinnia: Look, Miss Snit. A girl does not get anywhere by acting intelligent. I mean, take a look at you and me. You chose books; I chose looks. I have a nice house, a wonderful husband; and you are slaving away teaching snot-nosed children their ABCs. You want Matilda to go to college? [laughs]
Harry: College? I didn't go to college. I don't know anybody who did. Bunch of hippies and cesspool salesmen! (chuckles)
Miss Honey: [insulted] Don't sneer at educated people, Mr. Wormwood. If you became ill, heaven forbid your doctor would be a college graduate.
Harry: [less smugly] Yeah.
Miss Honey: Or--or say you were sued for selling a faulty car? The lawyer who defended you would have gone to college too.
Harry: (sternly) Sold what car? Sued by who? Who you been talking to?
Miss Honey: Nobody. Oh, dear. I can see we are not going to agree, aren't we. I'm terribly sorry for interrupting you like this.
Zinnia: We need to sue her for interrupting our show!
Harry: (turns on TV) Tell me about it!

[as punishment for supposedly eating Miss Trunchbull's chocolate cake, Bruce Bogtrotter has been forced to eat an entire cake in front of the whole student body]
Ms. Trunchbull: This boy, Bruce Bogtrotter, is none other than a vicious sneak thief. You're a disgusting criminal, aren't you?
Bruce: I don't know what you're talking about.
Ms. Trunchbull: Cake. Chocolate cake. You slithered like a serpent into the school kitchen and ATE MY PERSONAL SNACK! [whips riding crop onto table] Do you deny it? [long pause] Confess!
Bruce: Well, it's hard for me to remember a specific cake...
Ms. Trunchbull: This one was mine. And it was the most scrumptious cake in the entire world.
Bruce: My mom's is better.
[the other students gasp]
Ms. Trunchbull: It is, is it? How can you be sure unless you have another piece? [grabs him by the shoulder and propels him to a chair] Sit down, Bog.

Miss Honey: Okay now. Last time, some of you forgot yourselves. Don't speak unless you're spoken to. Don't laugh. Don't smile. Don't even breathe loudly--
Ms. Trunchbull: (entering) Don't breathe at all.
[.The Trunchbull walks over to Amanda Thripp's desk]
Ms. Trunchbull: Can you spell?
Amanda: Miss Honey taught us how to spell a long word yesterday. We can spell "difficulty".
Ms. Trunchbull: You couldn't spell "difficulty" if your life depended on it.
Amanda: She taught us with a poem.
Ms. Trunchbull: [in a mock high-pitched tone] A poem? How sweet. What poem would that be?
Amanda: Mrs. D, Mrs. I... [gestures to class to join in] Mrs. F-F-I. Mrs. C, Mrs. U., Mrs. L-T-Y.
Ms. Trunchbull: [viciously whips riding crop on desk] WHY are all these women MARRIED?! "Mrs D, Mrs I"? You're supposed to be teaching spelling, not poetry! [whips riding crop on Matilda's desk and walks to Miss Honey's desk] I cannot for the life of me understand why small children take so long to grow up. [pours water in the glass holding the newt] I think they do it deliberately just to annoy me. [the Trunchbull drinks the newt while the kids laugh and whisper; the Trunchbull lays down the glass] What's funny?! Hmm? Come on, spit it out! Speak up. I like a joke as well as the next fat person. [one of the students almost laughs and the Trunchbull discovers the newt in the glass she was drinking from] It's a snake! It's a snake! Oh, it's a snake! [Matilda puts her hand up] One of you tried to poison me! Who?! [notices Matilda with her hand up] Oh, Matilda. I knew it.
Matilda: I just thought you'd like to know, it's not a snake. It's a newt.
Ms. Trunchbull: What did you say?
Matilda: It's a newt, Ms. Trunchbull.
Ms. Trunchbull: [sharply] Stand up, you villainous sack of goat-slime! You did this!
Matilda: No, Ms. Trunchbull.
Ms. Trunchbull: Did you act alone, or did you have accomplices?
Matilda: I didn't do it.
Ms. Trunchbull: You didn't like the Chokey, did you? Thought you'd pay me back, didn't you? Well, I'll pay you back, young lady!
Matilda: For what, Ms. Trunchbull?
Ms. Trunchbull: [furiously] For this newt, you piss worm!
Matilda: I'm telling you, I didn't do it!
Ms. Trunchbull: [regains composure] Besides, even if you didn't do it, I'm going to punish you, because I'm big and you're small, and I'm right and you're wrong, and there's nothing you can do about it. You're a liar and a scoundrel, and your father's a liar and a cheat! You're the most corrupt low-lifes in the history of civilization! Am I wrong? I'm never wrong. In this classroom, in this school, I am GOD! [Matilda, gets more and more angry, concentrates on the glass; suddenly, the glass tips over, pouring the newt onto the Trunchbull. The Trunchbull jumps and dances in fear, while the kids laugh, until the Trunchbull flicks the newt off her, which it lands on the hanging lights, then into a boy's hand] [furiously] YOU!!!
Matilda: I didn't move!
Ms. Trunchbull: You did this! (tries to grab Matilda)
Miss Honey: How could she possibly done it when she was sitting all the way from over here?
Ms. Trunchbull: (sighs in frustration) I'll be watching you. Each and every one. When you turn the corner, when you go to your little cubbies to get your smelly little coats, when you skip merrily to lunch, I'll be watching you. All of you. And especially you! [points at Matilda, then leaves the classroom]

Matilda: This is the cottage from your story.
Miss Honey: Yes.
Matilda: The young woman is you.
Miss Honey: Yes.
Matilda: But then... No.
Miss Honey: Yes. Aunt Trunchbull.

Matilda: Why don't you run away?
Miss Honey: I've often thought about it, but I can't abandon my children. And if I couldn't teach, I'd have nothing at all.
Matilda: You're very brave, Miss Honey.
Miss Honey: Not as brave as you.
Matilda: I thought grown-ups weren't afraid of anything.
Miss Honey: Quite the contrary. All grown-ups get scared, just like children.
Matilda: I wonder what Ms. Trunchbull is afraid of.

Miss Honey: [sees a painting of her father, Magnus Honey] That's my dad.
Matilda:: What's his name?
Miss Honey: Magnus. I used to call him "King Magnus" and he would call me "Bumblebee".
Matilda: [pause] I don't think Magnus killed himself.
Miss Honey: Neither do I.
Matilda: [notices Miss Honey's doll on the bed] Is that Liccy doll?
[They both walk over to Liccy doll. Just as Miss Honey is about to touch the doll..]
Ms. Trunchbull: [on telephone] WORMWOOD!!! You useless used car salesman scum! I want you around here NOW! With another car! Yes, I know what caveat emptor means, you lowlife liar! I'm going to sue you, I'm going to burn down your showroom, I'm going to take that no-good jalopy you sold me and shove it up your bazooga! When I'm finished with you, you're going to look like roadkill! [silent pause] You what?! Oh, y-- Huh? [the Trunchbull hangs up and walks to the living room to find the chocolate box open and sniffs the lid to the box, realising that someone is in her house]
Miss Honey: Come on. Come on. [the Trunchbull looks around the area]
Matilda: Shouldn't we hide or something?
Miss Honey: Yeah. Go. Go to the end of the hall, downstairs and out the kitchen door. I'll distract her. [the Trunchbull walks upstairs while Matilda and Miss Honey split up]
Ms. Trunchbull: Who's in my HOUSE!?! (walks to the door) Yah! COME OUT AND FIGHT LIKE A MAN!!!

[After Harry sees off the FBI agents, whom Zinnia was talking to]
Zinnia: You don't let me talk to people! I am in a cage, Harry! I need to talk to somebody besides our stupid kids!
Harry: Oh yeah?! Well, a man is entitled to come home to find dinner on the table, without having to wait for a convention of male strippers!
[As he yells, Matilda focuses on her bedroom door, and it moves slightly]
Matilda: Dad?
Harry: What do you want?!
Matilda: Yell at me, okay?
Harry: Shut up and leave us alone!
Matilda: Yell at me again!
Harry: Yell at you?! I'll come in there and pound your miserable hide! What do I have to do to get any respect around here?! I'm gonna give you a tanning like you've never had in your life! My word is my law! Do you understand? LAW!
[Before he can reach her, Matilda uses her powers to slam the door shut. She smiles to herself as he is heard raving and hammering on it]

[Matilda catches Agents Bob and Bill in the garage without a search warrant]
Matilda: You two men are going to be in a lot of trouble very soon.
FBI Agent Bill: [to his partner] It's the female minor.
FBI Agent Bob: Aren't you supposed to be in school, young lady?
Matilda Wormwood: I really hope you have a search warrant. According to a constitutional law book that I read in the library, if you don't have one, you could lose your job or even go to federal prison.
FBI Agent Bob: It's your father who's going to federal prison. And you know where you'll end up?
FBI Agent Bill: In a federal orphanage.
FBI Agent Bob: If you cooperate, we'll make sure it's a nice orphanage.
FBI Agent Bill: The kind with food... and teeny-weeny cockroaches.
FBI Agent Bob: What do you say?
Matilda: There's another crime in the making: your car is about to run a stop sign.
[the handbrake has been taken off the Agents' car, which is now rolling towards a four-way stop intersection. The Agents run after the car and as they do, Matilda uses her powers to open the tape recorder one of them is carrying and removes the tape.]

[Matilda uses her powers to write on the blackboard, pretending to be the ghost of Miss Honey's father, Magnus]
Class: [reading] Agatha. This is Magnus. Give my little bumblebee her house, and her money.
Ms. Trunchbull: Money...?
Class: Then get out of town. If you don't, I will get you. I will get you like you got me. That is a promise!

[The Wormwoods try to run off, taking Matilda with them]
Matilda: I love it here! I love my school; it isn't fair! Miss Honey, please don't let them--
Harry: [interrupting] Get in the car, Melinda.
Matilda: Matilda!
Harry: Whatever.
Matilda: I want to stay with Miss Honey!
Zinnia: Miss Honey doesn't want you! Why would she want some snotty, disobedient kid?
Miss Honey: [extremely serious] Because she's a spectacularly wonderful child, and I love her.
Matilda: Adopt me, Miss Honey. You can adopt me!
Harry: Look, I don't have time for all these legalities.
Matilda: One second, Dad. I have the adoption papers! [reveals them]
Zinnia: [suprised] What the-- Where did you get those?
Matilda: From a book in the library. I've had them since I was big enough to Xerox.
Zinnia: Are you hearing this, Harry?!
Matilda: All you have to do is sign them.
Mike: [from the car] I'll be an only child again!
Harry: [frustrated] Shut up! I--I can't think with all these sirens! [police sirens are heard nearby] [Calmer, to Zinnia] What do you think, Pumpkin?
Zinnia: [turns to Matilda uneasily] You were the only daughter I ever had, Matilda. And I never understood you, not one little bit... [pause] Who's got a pen?

Narrator: And doing perhaps the first decent thing they ever did for their daughter, the Wormwoods signed the adoption papers.
Zinnia: Okay. [signs the first page] Here.
Matilda: [flips to second page] And here.
Zinnia: Okay. [signs it]
Matilda: [flips to third and last page] And here.
Zinnia: Okay. [signs the last page, folds the paper, closes the pen and gives both the papers and the pen to Matilda]
Harry: [grabs the pen and paper from Matilda] All right, come on, come here. Turn around! [signs the adoption papers on Matilda's back] You're not gonna be calling us for support payments or something like that, huh?
Miss Honey: Oh no, we'll have everything we need. Don't worry.
Harry: Okay, here. [hands them the papers. Matilda runs and embraces Miss Honey] let's roll!
[The Wormwoods get into their car]
Zinnia: [Friendly goodbye] Ciao!
[Mike angrily shakes his head at Matilda, the car starts and drives off]

[The final scene, where Miss Honey and Matilda are having fun in the house]
Narrator: So Harry and Zinnia got away. And as bad as things were before... that's how good they became. Miss Honey was made principal of Crunchem Hall, which had to add an upper school because children never wanted to leave. And Matilda found, to her great surprise, that life could be fun, and she decided to have as much of it as possible. After all, she was a very smart kid. The happiest part of the story is that Matilda and Miss Honey each got what they'd always wanted - a loving family. And Matilda never had to use her powers again. [Matilda, in bed, makes the book "Moby-Dick" float off the shelf] Well, I mean almost never.
[Matilda begins reading aloud to Miss Honey]

Cast[edit]

External Links[edit]

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