Matilda; Black comedy, USA, 1996; D: Danny DeVito, S: Mara Wilson, Embeth Davidtz, Pam Ferris, Danny DeVito, Paul Reubens, Rhea Perlman
Car salesman Harry is the living proof that the intelligence isn't inheritable: even though he doesn't want to have anything with students, he got a super-smart daughter, Matilda. She has difficulties coping with her backward family, reads books and doesn't have any friends. When she enlists into an elementary school, her intelligence impresses the shy teacher Honey who becomes her friend. Together they fight against the tyrant principal Agatha, who is Honey's aunt and decides to quite her job. Matilda develops telekinesis and Honey adopts her.When Matilda says: "Here are my adoption papers. I have them ever since I learned how to photocopy", a rebellious spirit awakes in the story whose sly charm largely reminds of the independent Vada from "My Girl" or the clever Daria Morgendorffer from "Daria". Although Matidla is considerably younger than them, she still has clever observations and is portrayed very well by Mara Wilson, while the underrated Embeth Davidtz is truly excellent as her mentor, the timid teacher Honey. A much worse side in "Matilda" is the story that isn't appropriately build around the special heroine, especially in the unconvincing moments like the one where the evil principal throws kids over the school fence, and the bizarre ending that doesn't quite fit into the plot, since the story could have started just there where it ended. Even worse is DeVito's misguided direction that becomes a hassle. He, both as a narrator who has sympathies towards Matilda, and actor who plays her father who doesn't like her, creates a strange rift and crosses too often into coldness, inappropriately black humor for a kids film and cruelty (like when a kid is forced to eat a whole cake as a punishment), but also expressionistic scenes. In the end, "Daria" remains a superior example of a misunderstood, multi-talented and gifted girl.