Matilda (1996) - Plot Summary Poster



Showing all 7 items
Jump to:


  • Story of a wonderful little girl, who happens to be a genius, and her wonderful teacher vs. the worst parents ever and the worst school principal imaginable.

  • Matilda Wormwood is an exquisite and intelligent little girl. Unfortunately, Matilda is misunderstood by her family because she is very different from their ways of life. As time passes, Matilda finally starts school that has a kindly teacher, loyal friends and a sadistic principal. As she gets fed up with the constant cruelty, Matilda begins to realize that she has a gift of telekinetic powers. After some days of practice, Matilda suddenly turns the tables to stand up to her parents and outwit the principal.

  • Matilda Wormwood is an extremely intelligent little girl. Sadly, she is misunderstood by her family because she is very different. As time passes, Matilda starts a school that has a kind teacher, loyal friends and a kid hating principal. As she gets tired of the constant cruelty, she begins to realize she has telekinetic powers. After a few days of practice she learns to control her powers. She plans on turning the tables on the terrible grown ups in her life.

  • A grouchy couple are parents to a very sweet girl, Matilda. Unlike her bratty brother and mean parents, Matilda becomes a very sweet and extremely intelligent 6 year old girl, who is very keen to go to school and read books. After a while, her parents send her to school with the worst principal in the world, a very sweet teacher, and good friends. While trying to put up with her parents' and principal's cruelty, she starts to unwittingly unleash telekinetic powers, destroying a television and making a newt fly onto the principal. With enough practice, Matilda starts to learn to control her telekinetic powers and soon using them on her principal so she can drive her away from the school.

  • Matilda is a bright little girl who is very eager to learn. Eventually, her insensitive parents send her to a school run by Miss (The) Trunchbull. She is a cruel authoritarian that loathes children. Matilda befriends her school teacher, Miss Honey. She soon realizes Matilda's talents, but is later amazed to see the full extent of Matilda's powers.

  • This is the story of a sweet bright little girl named Matilda, who is a child of wondrous intelligence. But unfortunately she is different from the rest of her family. Ignored at home all the time, Matilda escapes into a world of reading, exercising her mind so much she develops telekinetic powers. Good thing, too: sent off to a school headed by a cruel hulking monster, principal Agatha Trunchbull, Matilda needs all the help she can get. Amid Crunchem's darkness, Matilda finds a single light in warm-hearted Miss Honey, the first-grade teacher who recognizes the girl's remarkable skills--including a very special talent that allows the spirited girl to turn the tables on the wicked grown-ups in her world.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • Matilda Wormwood (Mara Wilson) is an incredibly brilliant child born to crass and ignorant parents. Her father Harry (Danny DeVito), a crooked car salesman, and her mother Zinnia (Rhea Perlman), a dim-witted Bingo enthusiast, ignore their daughter constantly and, despite her pleas, do not enroll her in school. Left home alone all day, young Matilda makes frequent trips to the library for mental stimulation. She develops a love for reading, and for knowledge in general.

    Matilda's intelligence does not impress her father, who interprets it as "being a smart-aleck." After being unfairly punished once too often, Matilda plays a stealthy string of practical jokes on Harry (including swapping his hair oil with bleaching peroxide, and gluing his hat to his head). After a particularly nasty outburst from Harry, Matilda stares at the television in anger until it explodes. Confused by the phenomenon, she shakes it off.

    A disgruntled Harry finally enrolls Matilda in Crunchum Hall Elementary, after the principal becomes a customer at his dealership. Miss Agatha Trunchbull (Pam Ferris), the headmistress, is an enormous, intimidating, and brutal woman with a passionate hatred for children. Matilda arrives at her first day of kindergarten and befriends two students, Hortensia and Lavender, who warn her of Miss Trunchbull's violent habits. The student body witnesses Trunchbull, an ex-Olympian, perform a "human hammerthrow," and fling a little girl over a nearby fence by her pigtails. Despite the initial horrors of Crunchum Hall, Matilda's teacher Miss Honey (Embeth Davitz) is a kind and gentle woman, and Matilda is praised for her intelligence for the first time.

    Miss Honey speaks with Matilda's parents at their house and attempts to convince them of their daughter's brilliance. They rebuff her rudely, but she is not dissuaded from finding intellectual stimulation for Matilda. The next day at school, Miss Trunchbull once again demonstrates her cruelty. Calling all the students to a special assembly, she devises a public punishment for a boy called Bruce Bogtrotter who had allegedly stolen cake from the school kitchen. Trunchbull forces him to eat an enormous cake in one sitting, and is furious when he manages to succeed without getting sick. She gives the whole student body a five-hour detention.

    The next day, Miss Trunchbull's car breaks down and she takes her anger out on Matilda, simply because she is Mr. Wormwood's daughter. Matilda is put in the Chokey, a small closet in Trunchbull's office studded with nails on the inside, forcing its inhabitant to stand poker-straight. Miss Honey's class prepares for a lecture from the headmistress, who visits classrooms sporadically to intimidate the children up close. Matilda's friend Lavender gets revenge on Trunchbull by hiding a newt in the water pitcher on the teachers desk. While Miss Trunchbull menaces the students, Miss Honey rescues Matilda from the Chokey and brings her back to class. After Trunchbull drinks a glass of water she spots the newt, causing her to have an uncharacteristically childish panic attack when she sees it. She instantly blames Matilda for the newt in the glass. Matilda is furious and, using the same angry energy from the television explosion, manages to tip the glass over with her eyes, sending the newt flying onto Trunchbull. Trunchbull blames Matilda again but Miss Honey points out that Matilda had never left her seat. After the disgruntled headmistress leaves, Matilda tells Miss Honey that she had indeed tipped the glass over using her eyes. She cannot repeat the phenomenon in the moment, but Matilda knows she has a strange mental power that had also caused her parents' television to explode. Matilda and Miss Honey soon form a bond, and Matilda is invited over for tea after school. Miss Honey lives in a tiny cottage, and tells Matilda the story of her childhood: She had once lived in a beautiful mansion (which they had passed on the walk from school), where Miss Trunchbull now lives. Miss Honey's mother had died early on, and her father invited his wife's stepsister (Trunchbull) to look after the house and his daughter. Miss Trunchbull, not surprisingly, was cruel to her niece. A few years later, Miss Honey's father mysteriously died, and his death was ruled a suicide.

    Miss Honey walks Matilda home, and they pass Trunchbull's house once again. Matilda suggests they go in and retrieve Miss Honeys beloved childhood doll, as they saw Miss Trunchbull getting into her car and preparing to leave. Miss Honey tries to dissuade Matilda, but the girl dashes into the house leaving Miss Honey with no choice but to follow her. They explore the house briefly, with Miss Honey experiencing nostalgia from her childhood, but are terrified when they hear Miss Truchbull re-enter. Her car (purchased from Harry Wormwood) broke down on the driveway, and as she bellows to him over the phone she senses something awry. Matilda and Miss Honey desperately evade Truchbull as she tears through the hallways searching for the intruders, and escape from the house just in time. Out of breath and terrified, Miss Honey makes Matilda promise to never enter the house again.

    Harry is being secretly followed by two undercover agents (Paul Reubens and Tracey Walter) due to his shady methods of restoring shoddy used cars, such as reversing the mile counter with a drill and attaching bumpers with superglue. Agents Bob and Bill lurk in a car outside the Wormwood house, snapping incriminating photos of Harry. Meanwhile, Matilda discovers that her telekinetic powers work when channeling her anger towards her family. She uses this knowledge to practice her telekinesis, and soon becomes adept enough to move objects quickly and easily from a good distance away. Matilda buys some extra time for her father by stealing the agents' evidence tape and disposing of it.

    Matilda resolves to return to Trunchbull's house and retrieve Miss Honey's doll. On a stormy night, she climbs onto Trunchbull's garage roof and begins to move items inside the house in order to scare the superstitious woman. Matilda transports the doll out of a window, and escapes. A horrified Miss Trunchbull seeks refuge in her car, but discovers Matilda's red hair ribbon (blown off during the storm). She brings it to school the following day, and menaces Miss Honey's class to a new degree. Matilda finally demonstrates her powers to Miss Honey, and uses them to write a message on the blackboard which the children read in eerie unison. The message appears to be from the ghost of Miss Honey's father, demanding that Trunchbull give his daughter back her house and rightful possessions. It is suggested that he was, in fact, murdered by Miss Trunchbull long ago. When Trunchbull is sufficiently frightened, Matilda uses her powers to battle Miss Trunchbull by pummeling her with flying classroom equipment. The broken-down and horrified headmistress flees the school forever and is pelted with food by the entire student body.

    Some time later, Matilda is visiting Miss Honey, who lives in her childhood home once again. The Wormwoods suddenly arrive and (with sirens in the background) say they are immediately moving to Guam and demand that Matilda get in the car. Matilda resists and produces adoption papers, begging to be allowed to stay with Miss Honey. Miss Honey defends Matilda and agrees. Matilda's mother finally shows remorse for her treatment of her daughter, and signs the papers to grant her a better life. The Wormwoods leave forever.

    Eventually, Miss Honey is named the new principal of Crunchum Hall Elementary. She and Matilda start a new life together, with Matilda only using her telekinesis for small tasks like removing a book from a shelf.

See also

Taglines | Synopsis | Plot Keywords | Parents Guide

Contribute to This Page

Recently Viewed