Matilda (1978)





Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

A novel by Paul Gallico provides the plot for this tale of a down-on-his-luck boxing promoter (Elliott Gould). In desperation, he plots a match between the heavyweight champion of the world (Larry Pennell) and a kangaroo.
Action & Adventure , Comedy , Kids & Family
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
American International Pictures


Elliott Gould
as Bernie Bonnelli
Robert Mitchum
as Duke Parkhurst
Harry Guardino
as Uncle Nono
Clive Revill
as Billy Baker
Karen Carlson
as Kathleen Smith
Roy Clark
as Wild Bill Wildman
Lionel Stander
as Pinky Schwab
Art Metrano
as Gordon Baum
Larry Pennell
as Lee Dockerty
Roberta Collins
as Tanya Six
Lenny Montana
as Mercanti
Frank Avianca
as Renato
Jimmy Lennon Sr.
as Ring Announcer
Don Dunphy
as Ringside Announcer
George Latka
as Referee
Mike Willesee
as Australian Announcer
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for Matilda

All Critics (1)

A real sucker-punch.

Full Review… | January 2, 2005

Audience Reviews for Matilda

(This is an old review, but I'm going to start transcribing stuff from the website I was doing reviews for five years ago. It's just to keep them in one place. Consider this "Paul Classic" or something.) [b][color=#ffffff] Kid’s movies can generally get weird enough so that it’s not that hard to see how Matilda got made. I mean, [i]The Garbage Pail Kids Movie[/i] got made. [i]Kazaam[/i] got made. The Mexican [i]Santa Claus[/i] flick got made. So it’s not completely inconceivable that someone just walked into a producer’s office, said “I want to make a G-rated movie with Elliott Gould and a boxing kangaroo,” and the producer, so high on coke that he was having visions of Gould right then and there, agreed to it.[/color][/b] [b][color=#ffffff] Hence, [i]Matilda[/i]. As far as I know, the first and only movie in which a mob boss hires an assassin to take out a kangaroo’s tail. Thank God.[/color][/b][b][color=#ffffff][/color][/b] [b][color=#ffffff] Now there are certain casting errors in movies that clearly make no sense and you wonder how the hell they got into the final cut of the picture without anyone getting up and saying, “You know, guys, this is a really terrible idea.” Charleton Heston playing a Mexican in [i]Touch of Evil[/i]. Mickey Rooney’s “Miss Go-wightwy!” screeching in [i]Breakfast at Tiffany’s[/i]. Keanu Reeves as a nuclear physicist in [i]Chain Reaction[/i]. Christopher Walken playing a human being.[/color][/b][b][color=#ffffff][/color][/b] [b][color=#ffffff] On top of all of these, more than John Wayne as Genghis Kahn or the illiterate Demi Moore as Hester Pym, is one little bit of casting in [i]Matilda[/i]. You see, Matilda is a kangaroo. And yet, Matilda is not played by a kangaroo. Matilda is played by a man in a kangaroo suit.[/color][/b][b][color=#ffffff][/color][/b] [b][color=#ffffff] Okay, so the casting of humans in animal suits isn’t really all that new or shocking. After all, most gorillas in movies were played by humans before they were replaced by computers. But [i]Matilda[/i]’s kangaroo suit is unusual in one respect. It is, clearly and simply, the most unconvincing, unbelievable animal suit ever made for a major motion picture.[/color][/b][b][color=#ffffff][/color][/b] [b][color=#ffffff] The plot is crap, of course. A washed-up Irish boxer (Clive Revill) with a pet kangaroo (some guy) meet up with talent agent Elliott Gould. Gould needs a hit, and gets the idea to turn Matilda into a boxing champ. Due to some Gouldian trickery, Matilda quickly makes his way up to being a champion, and the flick climaxes with a battle for the Heavyweight championship of the world. Meanwhile, bad guy mobster Uncle Nono (Harry Guardino) wants a piece of the action, and a sports columnist (Robert Mitchum, looking terribly embarrassed) investigates.[/color][/b][b][color=#ffffff][/color][/b] [b][color=#ffffff] It’s the usual barrage of dumb gags (“He’s herbivorous!” “I don’t care where he comes from!” Ha. Ha. Hah.) and Gould trying to be cute, and it wouldn’t have been any good even if there was a real ‘roo behind the punches. But the suit sinks it to Ed Wood levels of ineptitude. Just watching the boxing sequences, with the human combatants dully flying out of the way of the roo’s punches, the furry fighter’s dead, black eyes and forced, awkward hops around the ring getting cheered on by audiences… this is cinema at its’ purest.[/color][/b][b][color=#ffffff][/color][/b] [b][color=#ffffff] It’s clear that the makers of this film knew how unconvincing the whole thing is, simply because no character brings attention to the fact that Matilda looks more like a guy in a brown rabbit suit than an Australian hopper. In normal animals-play-sports flicks, there’s at least some character that theorizes that it’s a guy in a costume. Not here. Everyone’s completely convinced. That is, except the audience.[/color][/b][b][color=#ffffff][/color][/b] [b][color=#ffffff] To be fair, the costume does allow for some movement, and the phony pouch-packer can blink and move its’ ears. But the fur looks like it was stripped from a cheap rug, and the eyes... oh, those haunting, creepy, cold eyes. Words don’t do them justice.[/color][/b][b][color=#ffffff][/color][/b] [b][color=#ffffff] As a special bonus, you also get “Hee-Haw”’s Bob Clark as the state boxing commissioner. At the end of the film, Revill tells the audience what’s happened to all the characters and presents Gould (and his family) was a li’l baby kangaroo. It is played by a real kangaroo. So the film does, in fact, feature a real-life kanga. But it sure as hell isn’t Matilda.[/color][/b][b][color=#ffffff][/color][/b] [b][color=#ffffff] It's no wonder that this was one of the movies that killed American International Pictures, already nearing their casket in 1978, and only managing to churn out a couple more pics before becoming the similarly-doomed Orion.[/color][/b][b][color=#ffffff][/color][/b] [b][color=#ffffff] (If you need another reason to run screaming from [i]Matilda[/i], here it is: The theme song is by Pat and Debby Boone. You have been warned.)[/color][/b]

Paul Freitag
Paul Freitag

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