Streaming Review: From Broadway & Into The Online Stream ROALD DAHL'S MATILDA THE MUSICAL Is Delicious Darkness On Netflix

Matilda Is in The Title, But It’s All About Emma.

By: Dec. 28, 2022
Streaming Review: From Broadway & Into The Online Stream ROALD DAHL'S MATILDA THE MUSICAL Is Delicious Darkness On Netflix

Well, my DAHLING tribe, the lovelies at Broadway World have asked Bobby for another of our rainbow reviews on some streaming "content" coming to you this time from the fab folk at the Netflix... So jump in the stream with Bobby and let's see where our Rainbow lands.

Streaming Review: From Broadway & Into The Online Stream ROALD DAHL'S MATILDA THE MUSICAL Is Delicious Darkness On Netflix One has to wonder about Roald Dahl's imagination. The master of the child revenge genre, his most famous storylines are quite a macabre series of dreadful (if warranted) comeuppances for characters that do the hero bad turns at every turn. His most famous plots follow impossibly sweet children in tough circumstances doing their best (and getting a good outcome from doing so) against obstacles set before them by the villainous nasties. In CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY (WILLY WONKA) he metes out those horrible fates to Charlie's peers - a group of children with no boundaries to their selfish desires. Given those fates (being turned into a blueberry, shrunken then stretched, nearly drowned in chocolate, etc.) a reader could surmise that Mr. Dahl had it in for children, as a matter of course. With his story of telekinetic tyke, Matilda, though, he reserves the worst fates for the adults in the little poppet's life... one in particular. Having seen Matthew Warchus' hit production on the Broadway, it was as pleasing as it was surprising that he and his team of book writer Dennis Kelly and composer Tim Minchin were tasked with making the movie of Roald Dahl'S MATILDA THE MUSICAL, as well. Usually, movie makers drop those pesky theatre folk like hot potatoes with root rot, but, under Warchus' keen eye, the film adaptation incorporates the best of The Broadway with the best of the visual storytelling medium. Enter Dame Emma Thompson as Miss Agatha Trunchbull...

It may surprise some of you to know that, with two Oscars under her belt (one for writing and one for acting) and a veritable parade of Hollywood and British films to her credit, this luminary of the stage and screen got an early start in musical theatre with the 1985 West End revival of ME & MY GIRL. In the nearly 4 decades since then, she has added role after challenging role to her belt, building up all of the technique and power necessary to play The Trunchbull. Listening to her sing on the cast album of M&MG, one hears a weedy sweetness that does not hint at the basso profundo she employs for Dahl's boot-stomping, fascist headmistress who desires nothing but to crush the spirit of her charges until there is nothing in their heads but THE RULES. Though she may have come from the theatre (same as her very capable director) she has become a master of camera technique, with the ability to layer emotions and neuroses into her characters' behaviors in the tightest of close-ups, in the subtlest of ways, even when the character is an outsized monster such as Agatha. Tromping about in boots and body suits reminiscent of Karloff's Frankenstein's monster (even her hairstyle evokes this image a bit), the subtlety in her makeup collaboration with Naomi Dunne allowed for maximum Thompsonism throughout, as her range of acting pitches goes from low growling to dog-whistle heights. The character is a once-in-a-lifetime gargoyle, with an amazing 11 O'Clock number, THE SMELL OF REBELLION, all of which could go terribly wrong for even the best of actors, if they are not careful, and what those actors must be most careful with is themselves. Enter Director Matthew Warchus...

Looking at this artist's 9 credits behind the camera, one sees a sporadic progression from a $10,000,000 budget directorial debut that, according to IMDB, netted a not-so-whopping $3M at the box office, and then directing his live stage productions for the screen (4 times), the excellent film of the real-world story of gay activists lending a hand to rough and tumble striking coal miners, PRIDE, to, now, a big-budget movie musical. As with Thompson's career path having given her the tools necessary to bring her monstrous maven to life, The Old Vic's Artistic Director's work on film to date has given him the visual storytelling senses needed to auteur his way through a children's story with a kind of abandoned maturity that teaches the audience that it's no good to be a grown-up if you can't be childish sometimes. Building a Dahl world that is as adjacent to our own, as a nightmare is to sleep, filming his young charges (lots of them) as they tumble and cartwheel their way through that world on Ellen Kane's complex choreography, catching every nuance of Emma's Trunchbull, magnifying them when needed, downplaying them with her when called for, and working through each shot of each actor to draw their cartoons with depth of need and motivation, and all of it skillfully juxtaposed to Matilda's savior, her loving teacher Miss Honey. Enter Lashana Lynch...

Possessed of one of the most beautiful faces to grace the screen in a while and with talent to go with it, this young lady offers up a fully realized portrait of a wounded sparrow who must summon the courage to fend off the attacks of a giant vulture. Her beautifully lilting singing voice, especially on her number MY HOUSE, is tear-inducing, and her work in the scenes opposite her co-stars is what allows Trunchbull to be so menacing and Matilda to be so heroic. Enter Alisha Weir...

With just 3 live-action credits to her resume, it had to be Warchus' keen eye that told him his movie would be safe in the hands of this 11-year-old tasked with holding up her end of the hero's bargain against Dame Thompson's towering villain. One of the most fabulous things about this young lady's work is her depiction of Matilda's defiance. Even in her most beaten-down moments, she possesses an underlying layer of anger about to bubble up to rage. Behind her eyes is the stone wall she is being backed into, leading up to her finding her power, before she cuts loose and goes full-on Carrie White on Trunchbull's double-wide derriere. That defiance is what keeps Matilda from becoming "precious" in word or deed, and this skillful player stokes that fire gradually throughout the picture until she's had enough. For Matilda's clever moments, she portrays them without typical movie moppet precociousness, defaulting, rather, to a matter-of-factness that is endearing rather than annoying. Her scenes with the wonderful Sindhu Vee have you rooting for her because of her smarts and her voracious need for the books Vee purveys from her library van. Her soft tinge of regret over never really having the love of her HORRIBLE parents (played with snarling beauty by Stephen Graham and Andrea Riseborough) is the stuff of actresses 2 and 3 times her age. Her singing, also colored with this growing strength throughout, makes this reviewer excited to see how she will mature as both actor and singer because if this is where she is starting, then Little Bobby gives a big rainbow PHEWWW!

In all, my poppets, Roald Dahl'S MATILDA THE MUSICAL (the movie), will most likely come to be placed on the same classic pedestal next to 1971's WILLY WONKA or 1990's THE WITCHES as a Roald Dahl fantasy that delights audiences of all ages and will stand the test of time. The work of Warchus, Thompson, Lynch, and Weir, combined with the entire cast, crew, and creatives, build a hyperbolic (what? Bobby knows words?!) child-like landscape where everything that happens is more than plausible, it is essential. Good (children) prevails over evil (adults), and the happily ever after feels real. We had a great time watching and listening to it and will return to it time and again throughout the years and so, we have no other alternative than to give Roald Dahl'S MATILDA THE MUSICAL...

Our Full 5 Out Of 5 Rainbows. Dial it up on your Netflix TODAY!



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