It is rare for movies based on books to be as good as the books they're based on. It is even rarer for movies based on books to be better than the books. "Matilda" is one of these ultra-rarities. They added a whole bunch of stuff to the plot to make it movie-length, which is usually a recipe for disaster, but in this case they made such a fun story in the exact spirit of the book, that they actually improved on the story! And Mara Wilson... nobody could have fitted the Matilda role better, in my opinion.
There are so many good things to say about this story. It's fun for children, and there are many adults who can understand growing up as a nerd in a family full of Luddites, or at least be able to sympathize with having to deal with Luddites in their life. Ms. Trunchbull is also the perfect personification of an overbearing authority which is only out for its own needs and not for the needs of the people "beneath" that authority. The Trunchbull is exaggerated, but there are sadly far too many people in the education system who, like her, either don't like children or otherwise do not have the temperament or skills to be teaching children, a fact that always makes the ending a little bittersweet for me.
All in all, an excellent movie. I would give it 6 stars if I could.
Update: Wow, that was fast. It told me I might have to wait 48 hours, but it took just a few minutes! My review.
Crossposted from http://fayanora.dreamwidth.org