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Fridge Brilliance

1996 Movie
  • Miss Honey acts as a Mama Bear for Matilda, but she seems to accept the abuse Aunt Trunchbull bestowed on her with stoic resignation. Part of the reason is that she sees great potential in Matilda, the grace and confidence that Trunchbull squelched in Miss Honey when the latter was a child, and part of it is knowing what it's like to have the world tear away that confidence. Miss Honey in both the book and movie doesn't believe that she deserves better in life, since she doesn't actively fight for the things she deserves like her inheritance or her wages. Seeing Matilda risk experiencing the same thing, though, from Miss Trunchbull and the Wormwoods? For Miss Honey, it becomes a case of We Are Not Going Through That Again and You Are Better Than You Think You Are.
  • In the movie, the Wormwoods go to Guam to get away from the FBI. Guam is a territory of the U.S. and the FBI would certainly be able to find them there. But, since they are incredibly stupid, TV-watching slobs, they probably didn't think of that point for one second.
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    • Of course, that's assuming they were telling the truth about their planned destination.
  • Matilda's favorite author is Charles Dickens... who is the Trope Codifier for stories about the system failing abused children.
  • When Matilda says "whoever painted the Trunchbull must have had a really strong stomach," she means "It's amazing that someone was able to complete a painting of the Trunchbull without throwing up."
  • Why does Matilda dispose of evidence when the FBI search the house? We know from the narrator that at least part of the reason is Matilda's futile hope that Harry will eventually see the error of his ways, which be could only do if he's still a free man. But a better and more pragmatic reason is Matilda knows that if her parents are arrested, she'll be put into foster care probably away from her friends and Miss Honey. And her plan is for Miss Honey to adopt her.
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  • The Trunchbull notably doesn't do anything when Miss Honey frees Matilda from the chokey. Foreshadowing that she's just a bully and she'll be powerless once the school stands up to her.

Musical
  • Matilda's class stands up to the Tunchbull. Just before everyone gets sent to Chokey, Matilda writes on the chalkboard as Magnus. The Trunchbull is never seen again, and the schoolkids sing Revolting Children, which includes the two lines "And we won't forget the day we fought/for the right to be a little bit naughty". An audience member knows Matilda had to piece a lot of clues together, and use her powers to defeat the Trunchbull. But the kids don't. They're in the youngest class, and managed to stand up to the Trunchbull. Just when things were looking bad for them, "Magnus" showed up and placed the straw that broke the camel's back. So they've just worked with a ghost to achieve the impossible. Fought for the right, indeed.
  • The blackboard scene is taken straight from the book but it's even more appropriate here. In the book Ms. Trunchbull only thought she was seeing a ghost. However in the musical it's implied that Matilda was either possessed or communing with Magnus. So effectively yes it WAS Magnus enacting his revenge. This would also explain why Matilda lost her powers. Magnus moved on and thus Matilda had no power other than her own mind.
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    • Even better, the word 'Magnus' is a title given to a powerful magician. Badass from beyond the grave, anyone?
      • How's this; if Magnus was the reason for Matilda's power, that explains why Matilda knows his and his family's story, as well as why Matilda hears these stories and thoughts seemingly out of her control, like in "Quiet". That all is one of the main reasons the theory is so profound in this version. But think; the story Matilda tells has a lot of very silly or unrealistic moments: the name of the dangerous act, some of the more fantastical elements of the Honey-Trunchbull family, and to a lesser extent, the acrobat breaking her bones instead of being impaled or bitten. But if Magnus knows he's telling the story to a little girl, he probably wants to scare her as little as possible, as well as make her and everyone else think she came up with the story. Plus, his love and devotion for his wife and hatred of Trunchbull probably tainted some of his descriptions (Granted, from what we see of Trunchbull, his descriptions of her probably aren't that far off, but still.). The trick probably had a shorter name, and just didn't have a safety net. Why did he let her see Miss Trunchbull in full force? Because she'd seen it all before, so she probably wouldn't be too scarred by a little more.
      • Additionally, she gains her powers both when she's at the absolute low point of her life, AND when Miss Honey is being scolded by Miss Trunchbull right in front of her. He's probably more than a little angry.
  • Matilda mispronounces words in the play. It's easiest to tell in the soundtrack, where she mispronounces anticipation as 'ancipation', slippery as 'slippy', atmospheric as 'atmospharic', and a few other words. (Weird, escapologist is pronounced exactly correct.) Note those examples are from the extremely dramatic and serious 'Story' songs, not the comedic songs where mispronunciations might be funny. And while a young actress might mispronounce words in the play, presumably someone would have caught that on the released songtrack. But these mispronunciations are entirely on purpose...because Matilda, like many very intelligent children her age, learned the words via reading them.

Fridge Horror

From Book
  • In the book, it is mentioned in passing that Matilda read Tess of the D'Ubervilles, which deals with the titular character having been raped. It's mentioned to highlight Matilda's status as a Child Prodigy, but still, it's more than a bit horrifying to think about a five year old reading something of that subject matter.
    • She mentions to Miss Honey that she didn't understand some of the finer points of the books she was reading, so she might not have clearly understood that aspect of the story.
      • Fridge, but Miss Honey might acknowledge this in universe: she is taken aback by Matilda's reading, probably not just by the fact that she is reading and has read so many books, but also the topics of some.
    • Also, Tess of the D'Ubervilles was written in such a way that what's happening isn't ever said directly. Instead, the reader uses their own knowledge and ability to read between the lines to work out exactly what happened. (Most of the books Matilda reads are written in the same way, incidentally). Despite being incredibly intelligent, it's unlikely Matilda at 5 years old had enough wordly knowledge to work out exactly what was going on, only the very basic gist of it.
1996 Movie
  • Bit of a Meta example, the song "Little Bitty Pretty One" by Thurston Harris plays when Matilda learns how to control her powers. While on the surface it's a whimsical moment. On the meta level, it's the same song used when Christine goes after her first victim. And since stuff gets real later on after that montage.....
  • Matilda's trigger for her telekinetic abilities was being pushed around by her family and Principal Trunchbull. Late in the movie, she's using said abilities effortlessly to impress her teacher and later screw with Trunchbull. It's likely her mind developed past said trigger, but if that's not the case, Matilda HAS to remember some moment in her life where she had to take a lot of crap from someone (most likely her family) in order to access her abilities, which can be just as painful as actually experiencing the moment in question.
  • "Magnus" threatens to kill the Trunchbull. Except "Magnus" is Matilda!
  • What happened to Michael, after the Wormwoods went to Guam to escape the authorities?
    • Michael is with them in the car (he shouts out "I'll be an only child again!" as Matilda's parents are contemplating Matilda's adoption), so it's safe to assume that Michael went with their parents to Guam.
      • Which can serve as Fridge Horror of its own, seeing that the Wormwoods got most likely arrested in Guam, ending with Michael in an orphanage, on the street or similar. While he had been a lazy bully, he was mostly victim of being groomed into one, just to end up suffering for his parents deeds and not having been Happily Adopted like Matilda.
    • If his parents were arrested, he would most certainly not end up on the street. He'd be put into foster care and he might end up in a better family, who could even raise him into being a better person.
      • This is a Roald Dahl-Story though. For all we know, he might even be a mouse now?
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