October 11th, 2012
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Nostalgia Chick: Lisa Simpsons of the world, you finally have a movie of your very own. Well... From, like...sixteen years ago.

(Cut to the book cover and clips of Matilda)

NCh (vo): Matilda! Based on the children's book by Roald Dahl, writer of weird, unpleasant books and brought to the big screen by Danny DeVito, director of weird, unpleasant movies. In this movie, evil monstrous teachers abuse kids horribly for no reason, a fat kid is forced to gorge himself and it's gross, crappy cars are sold for unreasonable prices and television is very, very bad. It is a foul, nasty dark movie and of course, kids absolutely loved it. I mean, of course they did, it's about a genius little girl who develops psychic powers and embarrasses her stupid jerk parents and gives comeuppance to her cruel, bullying principal. What kid wouldn't wanna watch that?

NCh: Yes, people seem to react very passionately to this movie. They either love it...

(Cut to Nella, lying on her bed, clutching a copy of the book)

Nella: (sighs) Perfect... Perfect...

(Cut back to Nostalgia Chick)

NCh: Or they learn to keep their mouths shut about it in the interests of their personal safety.

(Cut to the Nostalgia Critic, yelling out his window at an angry mob)

Nostalgia Critic: Alright, fine, fine! I won't do the Matilda review! Just for God's sakes. stop using that voodoo doll on my genitals!

(gunshot sound is heard and NC screams while reeling away from the window)

NCh: But is the movie any good? Well, get ready to drop your champagne glasses and pop your monocles 'cos here's my big damn controversial opinion on Matilda: It's.......okay.

(Cut to more clips from the movie)

NCh (vo): But you can see why it has such a cult following. Most kids' movies are very quickly licensed crap thrown together because kids are stupid and they'll watch anything. (Image of the various Disney Sequels) Do I need to bring up the Disney sequels again?

NCh: But I would be loathed to lump Matilda in with that sort of children's movie, and there is art in it, and the filmmakers clearly cared about staying true to Roald Dahl and his characters.

NCh (vo): You can see it in the cinematography, for instance. Look at the careful use of Dutch angles to imply unpleasantness. (Cut to clips of Battlefield Earth) This was, of course, before Battlefield Earth came along and ruined Dutch angles forever.

(Cut back to the Chick)

NCh: And more to the point, Danny DeVito clearly wanted to do right by Roald Dahl (grumbles) Roald Dahl...

(Cut to clips from the film)

NCh (vo): Except for the country in which the film takes place, of course. All American now! (slipping into an English accent) Well, except the bad guy, of course.

The Trunchbull: You can't handle the little viper so you're trying to foist her off on one of the other teachers!

NCh (vo): (Sinister English cackle) (in normal voice) So the plot is this: It's basically a biopic about a young girl with terrible, horrible parents, who not only teaches herself how to read but also to be a decent person. And, uh, develops telekinesis. When she eventually convinces her awful father to let her go to school, she finds a friend in the wonderful, perfect teacher, Miss Honey, and an enemy in the child-loathing principal, the Trunchbull.

(Cut back to the Chick)

NCh: I mean it's not bad, it's just not great either, it's kind of muddled. For instance, I kind of question Danny DeVito's decision to play the evil, horrible father and also the kind, understanding, sympathetic narrator.

(Cut to clips from the movie)

Narrator: Sometimes, Matilda longed for a friend. Someone like the kind, courageous people in her books.

NCh (vo): (Impersonating DeVito's narration) And then kind, smart Matilda was yelled at And then Matilda felt bad. I continued to be a stupid asshole who didn't understand my perfect daughter.

(Cut back to the Chick)

NCh: But you know what? I do like the Trunchbull. And I don't think Roald Dahl was being fair to her at all. She's kind of a badass.

(Cut to clips of the movie)

NCh (vo): She's an Olympian, a homeowner and a business owner - I mean, I assume that the school she runs is both private and for profit - And she works day in and day out to stay in peak athletic shape. And she's made the decision to remain unmarried and child-free to keep little horrors in their place and we're supposed to take this like it's a bad thing?

(Cut back to the Chick)

NCh: The movie never tells us why she hates children. Maybe having never been a child herself when she went to school, she was bullied by the children being the only non-child in a group full of children and therefore developed a very understandable resentment of them. And based on the framing of the movie, I get the impression that we're supposed to side against the child-hating Trunchbull?

The Trunchbull: They're all mistakes, children. Filthy, nasty things, glad I never was one.

NCh: But according to the ACLU and the mandate from my executive producers, I am not allowed to one-sidedly hate all children or the Southern Poverty Law Centre is going to label me as a hate group...again, so I brought in my new neighbor who apparently...likes children...?

(camera pans across to reveal "Neighbor", her hair tied back and wearing thick glasses)

"Neighbor": Yes, children are okay by me.

NCh: Good! Okay. So here's my thing.

(Cut to the book cover and clips from the movie)

NCh (vo): There's a big difference between books and movies in terms of audience. Books have to have reading levels, but film is a different language altogether. (Cut to clips from WALL-E and The Little Mermaid) Take movies like WALL-E or most Disney movies for that matter. They have a broad appeal and are comprehensible to pretty much anyone over the age of 5. (Cut to clips from Matilda and briefly Transformers) But books have a different language to film, which is part of why adapting a book to a film is so friggin' hard. So what you see in a lot of movies made only for kids are a lot of reductionism and moral black and white-ness 'cos that's what kids respond to, especially boys. In a way, movies for children are easier to write because they're colored with black and white, no shades of gray. In other words, they have nothing in common with reality.

(Cut back to Mara and the Chick)

"Neighbor": That sweater was so fucking itchy...

NCh: (beat) Well, anyway...

(Cut to clip of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory)

Mrs Teavee: I serve all his TV dinners right here. He's never even been to the table.

(Cut to Matilda before going back to Mara and the Chick)

NCh: Do movies made exclusively for children have anything to offer for non-children?

"Neighbor": I think you might be overthinking it.

NCh: Well, shit, that was my only talking point.

"Neighbor": Well, we need movies that speak to a child's world view. See, a child's world view is still developing.

(Cut to clips of Matilda, briefly Sesame Street and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory)

"Neighbor": So you need something empowering and encouraging to bridge between Dora the Explorer and Sesame Street which exist to teach basic things like language and math, and the media that they're gonna take in their teens and so on.

NCh (vo): Dahl's characters come in two flavours: Flawless cherub cast out of Heaven, or Satan. Or in the case of Willy Wonka: God? Dahl doesn't give a crap if you're prejudiced against cats, or gum-chewers, or whatever. Hell, he encourages it.

Reporter: Love to watch TV, Mike?

Mike Teavee: You bet!

(Cut back to Mara and the Chick)

NCh (vo): What I'm trying to intellectualize is: I don't see why adults like it, unless you're, like, a fan of Danny DeVito or Paul Reubens or....what's-her-face..... The drama club C-list Lindsay Lohan. Although you do have to admit, she pulls the dead-eyed hollow look very convincingly.

"Neighbor": (chuckles before loudly cackling and abruptly stopping) That was funny. I mean, nobody's forcing you to find something about this movie and like it.

NCh: No, actually, they kind of are. 'Cos you know, everyone was like 'you should review this! but if you say anything negative about this movie, I will cut you!' I mean, my former male counterpart was really really really scared of Matilda fans, justifiably so.

"Neighbor": As well they should be! (whips the glasses off and shakes her hair loose to reveal...)

NCh: (beat) I don't get it.

(... "neighbor" tweaks her fringe to reveal MARA WILSON!!)

NCh: (gasp) Twist!

Mara: Yes, it was I who was your C-list drama club Lindsay Lohan all this time!

NCh: That is an incredible coincidence that we're neighbors!

Mara: I know. (her eyes begin to glow and her voice takes on a demonic tone) And now I shall take my revenge on you, and your entire website! Right after this.

(Commercial break)

NCh: OK, so not to like, disrupt your unholy rage or anything but..... You've got boobs now and that's kinda weird to me 'cos you're like a child star and I didn't think you'd actually hit puberty. That's not weird, is it?

Mara: No, actually, I get that a lot. Anyway.... (shifts into demon mode) Now I must take my REVENGE!

NCh: Wait! Uh, don't you want to, like, give your take on the movie? You know, the film for which you are most remembered as an actor?

Mara: Well, actually I'm quite proud of the movie. I think Danny really cared about the source material and he stayed true to the voice and intention of Roald Dahl.

NCh: Yep, he was a bitter, unpleasant man.

Mara: (sighs disdainfully)

NCh: He was, by all accounts!

Mara: And by all accounts, so are you!

NCh: And?

(cut to Dahl's other book covers)

NCh (vo): I find that some of his children's lit is a little bit more palatable than others from a moralistic standpoint, and boy howdy, did he love his moralistic standpoints. Take Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The BFG. See, The BFG, though less remembered, I kind of prefer over Charlie as a children's book because it very much gets into the idea of children's fears, the fear of being small and challenges children have to overcome. (Cut to Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory) Charlie I'm less fond of, because it's very 'if you raise your child in a certain way, your parenting is bad and you should feel bad,'

Reporter: Mr Mike Teavee! Hey Mike, do you think we might shut that thing off?

Mike Teavee: No! Are you crazy?

NCh (vo): Gee, Roald Dahl, it's almost like you hate television or something.

(Cut to Matilda)

NCh (vo): You see a bit of that with Matilda in the Wormwoods.

Harry Wormwood: Why would you wanna read when you got the television set sittin' right in front of ya?

Mara (vo): On the other hand, most of his books are kind of aggressive in that he never seems to buy into the whole 'respect one's elders' thing. Scenes you push in a lot of other children's books. He judges the hell out of certain types of parents in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and in Matilda, he advocates the idea that some people are just shitty parents. And at the end of the book, Matilda divorces them.

(Cut back to Mara and the Chick)

NCh: So I guess it was to Mr Dahl's advantage that he sympathized with children more than literally every other living creature.

Mara: It is possible that Dahl might have taken a issue with the depiction of the magic powers in the movie. I mean, in the book, it's not necessarily a culmination, it's more like a side effect of being smart and not having an outlet for that intelligence.

(Cut to clip of Matilda bringing Lavender down from the ceiling)

NCh (vo): And at the end of the movie, she's basically an X-Man. And make of that what you will.

(Back to Mara and a bored-looking Nostalgia Chick who's drinking away)

Mara: But it could be argued that the book takes a more deterministic point of view of Matilda's abilities while the movie takes a more libertarian view. And not libertarian in the political sense but in the meta-ethical sense. Because at the end of the movie, Matilda has the ability to choose, she has free will, she can choose what to do with her powers, whether she uses them for good or evil. And I don't know if that was necessarily Roald Dahl's intent, but I am a determinist myself in real life, so-

NCh: OK, now we're overthinking it.

Mara: Well, I've just spent a lot of time thinking about the philosophical implications of this movie, alright?

NCh: Well, let's get down to brass tacks.Why do grown up people still really, aggressively, scarily like this movie?

Mara: Well, I think as children and still as adults, they can relate to the characters. Especially Matilda and Miss Honey. I mean, there's Matilda and Miss Honey slash fan-fiction out there. Really, guys? Really?

NCh: I dunno, I can kind of see it....

(Cut to a scene from the movie with a Kenny G's "Songbird" playing in the background)

Miss Honey: What do you like to read?

Matilda: Everything. I particularly like to read Dahl's Chickens.... Charles Dickens. I could read him every day.

Miss Honey: So could I.

(Cut back to Mara and the Chick, now talking over one another)

Mara: Oh, no, not you too.

NCh: I'm not, you know, into that! I'm just saying it's, you know- It's not-

Mara: Oh, leave the 'love that dare not speak its name' nonsense to Oscar Wilde, alright?

NCh: It's not fair, I mean with the delicate lighting.... The loving zoom....

Mara: This is Dahl we're talking about, not Nabokov!

NCh: I know, but- Mr. DeVito...

Mara: Do you? Do you now? Do you even know who that is? You probably say it Nabikoff!

(Cut to clips from the movie)

Mara (vo): I think a lot of people, girls especially, can relate to feeling ostracized and unappreciated. Especially the type who like to read. You don't see a lot of narratives that empathize with young, bookish types, except again, Lisa Simpson and Daria.

(Cut back to the couch)

NCh: But they don't have magic powers. So Matilda, it's a very flattering, unchallenging movie if you're eight.

(Cut back to the movie)

NCh (vo): It's like Home Alone with magic powers. And it does have some escapist fantasy moments, such as the many, many times Matilda gets back at adults, or especially the scene where they chase out the Trunchbull. (cut to Trunchbull being tossed out of the school by the students) "We just happened to bring all these water balloons today, yay!" It reminds me too of the marketing for the movie. This came out when Nickelodeon was really big on the whole 'kids rule' thing. In fact, I remember one of the trailers having a crowd of kids shout 'kids rule!'

(Cut to a scene from aforementioned trailer)

Kids: Kids rule!

(Cut back to the couch)

NCh: And I do like that this isn't necessarily a magical boy narrative, she's not the chosen one or whatever, she has a lot of potential and eventually she fulfills it. Like this is how right off the bat you can tell that Matilda is a super genius.

(Cut to Matilda, aged about two, making pancakes)

NCh (vo): Those pancakes are fluffy as fuck. Hot damn, I can't even make pancakes that perfect and I'm pushing thirty.

(Cut back to Mara and the Chick)

Mara: Although in the movie, Matilda's the only one with the power to challenge Trunchbull's authority, whereas in the book, Hortensia and some other characters do it too.

NCh: So the movie makes the uber-special Matilda even more extra-special? Yeah, I guess the magical boy narrative isn't completely unescapable. It is quite lucrative. Right, Harry Potter?

(Cut to Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone)

Hagrid: You're a wizard, Harry.

NCh (vo): You're a Jesus, Harry.

(Cut back to the couch)

Mara: But one subtlety that I like is that in this film, everyone's gender is completely incidental.

(Cut to clips from the movie)

Mara (vo): It informs the characters, yes, but it doesn't define them. In a lot of ways, that makes Matilda a lot more sophisticated than a lot of Hollywood fare made for adults. It passes the Bechdel Test.

The Trunchbull: You couldn't spell 'difficulty' if your life depended on it.

NCh (vo): I like that the Trunchbull's a bad guy who just happens to be female. It's never played for laughs that she's unfeminine, she just does what she does and doesn't have any straw feminist battle cry.

Kids: Mrs. C, Mrs. U, Mrs. L-T-Y!

The Trunchbull: Why are all these woman married?!

NCh (vo): Okay, most of the time. God dammit!

(Cut back to the couch)

NCh: So honestly what I'm finding from this conversation's more or less the same thing we discussed earlier. People liked it when they were eight, they still like it and they will cut you if you disagree with them.

Mara: Well, is there anything wrong with that? A lot of kids that age may not be getting the encouragement they need, and this movie offers that sympathetic voice. I've heard from a lot of people that Matilda helped them to be comfortable with the people they would grow up to be.

Nella: But you're both missing one thing!

(Title card pops up, reading 'two hours of fangirl gushing later...')

Nella: And that's why I loved and still love Matilda! And why I don't understand why you're just so..... 'Meh' about it! (runs away with a sob)

NCh: Okay, so, Matilda pretty much has a value to its intended age group and that's.....okay?

Mara: Good! I'm glad you're finally getting it.

(NChick silently cheers)

Mara: (shifts into demon form) Away, Now I must take MY REVENGE!

NCh: Wait, what?!


NCh: Where did this come from, I thought we were cool!

Mara: Well you know how IMDb said I was dead a few years ago?

NCh: No. But IMDb is the very worst so that doesn't surprise me at all.

Mara: Well, the truth is, I did have to quit child-acting because of some otherworldly death thing only to come back later to have these special powers and everything in a constant quest for revenge and against....whatever. You know, revenge!

NCh: So you did grow up to be Matilda what with the powers and everything!

Mara: No, I'm not actually telekinetic, I'm so sick of people asking me that. Like, come on, it's a movie, you know? Besides, Matilda's good. I'm the one that's evil....

NCh: But you do have, like, the supernatural death glow.

Mara: Yeah, it's some kind of otherworldly strength. Every time I get an emotion, my eyes kind of glow. But I can't actually move things with my mind, that's just ridiculous. And I'm supposed to use my powers on my constant quest for revenge.

NCh: Yeah, that's kind of scary.

Mara: Well, these days I mostly take my revenge on some morons on Twitter. (switches to demon form) AND THE NOSTALGIA CRITIC!

NCh: Yeah, he's dead...technically. I think...

Mara: What?! Aww, I was gonna destroy his ally to get to him!

NCh: Ehh, well, 'ally' is kind of a strong word, but hey, I'm sure that there's some, like, epic battle we could come up with, some legitimate reason to hate each other.

Mara: No, it's not the same.... It was so organic with Nostalgia Critic.

NCh: Yeah, I know what you mean.

Mara: We could fight over which of us is hotter.

NCh: Nah, the Internet's gonna do that anyway...

Nella: Don't you realize?

(A kazoo rendition of Battle Hymn of the Republic starts up)

Nella: You are one. A former child star and an internet celebrity? You two are the lowest of the low, there are no two more looked down upon entities in this entire world! You are somewhere between sitcom moms who now do Save the Children commercials....and Andy Dick. That's why you need to join your forces and use your powers for good!

(the music stops as Nella suddenly stares at Mara)

Nella: Holy shit, Matilda... You've got a great rack...!

NCh: (trying to hold Nella back from groping Mara) No-!

(Credits roll)

NC: (Yelling out of his window) Fine! Fine! I won't review Matilda! I'll just do a Let's Play of Bart's Nightmare! How's that?

(Crowd cheers)

Nostalgia Critic: Yeah, yeah, you people know what's best. (stalks off)

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