With badass women mathematicians in a pastel-colored Floridian setting,
the movie . But the best part of Gifted has a lot going for it Gifted isn’t Chris Evans as Frank Adler, staving off dad bod and growing out his scruff. It’s not the bittersweet knowledge that as their characters Frank (Evans) and Bonnie (Jenny Slate) were twirling toward love, so were the actors. It’s not even watching a bunch of adults unpack the demons of their pasts while they fight for custody of a girl genius — which, by the way, is the essentially the film’s entire plot.
It’s simple, really. The best part of
Gifted, which tells the story of child prodigy who’s as good at one-liners as she is at solving equations, is that it’s just like . Matilda
Bear with me, but I’m convinced that Mary Adler of 2017’s
Gifted is the long-lost, left-brained cousin of Roald Dahl’s , made famous by his novel and the 1996 movie. The films are most definitely linked together in a conspiracy to recycle old plots. But you can’t fool me, Hollywood. Matilda
This is the indisputable evidence that
Gifted is really Matilda, set in Florida, and with more math.
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They’re both geniuses, duh.
First, there’s the obvious. Both Matilda and Mary are first-graders graced with extraordinary mental capacity (and charm).
Before starting school, Matilda Wormwood has already made a sizable dent in the library’s classics collection. Mary, on the other hand, is more partial to differential equations than to
Moby Dick. When presented a math textbook, she scoffs — she’s already read that one. Wilson Webb/21st Century Fox More
They’re beyond lovable.
I’ll give it to you: This piece of evidence is based on pure conjecture. But thanks to performances by Mckenna Grace (Mary) and
Mara Wilson (Matilda), the girl geniuses have as much charm as they do IQ.
With her hilariously expressive sneers and thoughtful one-liners, Mckenna Grace carries an otherwise plodding film full of downtrodden adults. There’s nothing like hearing incredible wisdom spoken by a little kid.
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The action begins on the first day of school.
Genius, long festering in the privacy of the girls' homes, makes its debut in the public sphere on the first day of school. Luckily for Mary and Matilda, the Elementary School Gods shone brightly on them when assigning the teachers Miss Honey (Embeth Davidtz) and Miss Bonnie (Jenny Slate) to their classrooms.
Both teachers recognize they have extraordinary little girls on their hands, but don’t, like the films’ other characters, try to exploit that genius for personal gain. Instead, Bonnie and Miss Honey act as protectors throughout the films.
Wilson Webb/21st Century Fox More
The girls go head-to-head with bullies.
With great intelligence comes a great sense of injustice.
Realizing that her classmates are too petrified to stand up to Miss Trunchbull (Pam Ferris) on their own, Matilda organizes a revolution. She uses her telekinetic powers, a manifestation of her genius, to unseat Trunchbull. Matilda easily outsmarts her conniving parents, too.
Mary’s bully, on the other hand, is found in every elementary school around the world. After a 12-year-old trips a first-grader, causing his art project to shatter, Mary hits the bully in the face with a textbook. Just as the zoo diagram shattered, so too did the bully’s nose. Mary then rouses the class in support of Justin, the kid with the broken art project.
Adults are nothing short of sinister.
Of course, since
Matilda is a Roald Dahl book, adults are more than menacing. They’re straight-up evil. Miss Trunchbull is tied with Mrs. Umbridge for most bone-chilling instructor of all time, and Mr. and Mrs. Wormwood are more concerned with conning than with child-raising.
Gifted, the adults are ominous in their good intentions. Evelyn (Lindsay Duncan) may want the best for Mary’s mind, but she probably isn’t thinking of what’s best for Mary’s spirit. More
They’re both in search of the perfect home.
At the heart of
Matilda and Gifted are battles between two different families and two different conceptions of how the girl genius should be raised.
Matilda, we have the no-good, scamming Wormwoods, who undervalue their gifted daughter, up against the saintly Miss Honey. For the viewer, there’s a clear winner.
The gritty custody battle in
Gifted isn’t as simple as a fantasy book. After Mary’s gifts are made known, her absent grandmother, Evelyn, suddenly expresses interest in custody of the child. Frank Adler, wounded from his sister’s suicide, can venture a guess why: The grandmother plans to set Mary on the same similarly strict math course her mother, Diane, was on, until her death. Frank, on the other hand, wants Mary to have the regular childhood Diane never could. Think sunset strolls along the beach, recess shrieks, and bike rides.
Should Mary rise to the potential of her gift with math tutors and life in Boston? Or should an extraordinary kid be raised like a normal kid in a hut in Florida?
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Their student-teacher relationships extend beyond the classroom.
After their used-car scheme is discovered by the FBI, Matilda’s parents are forced to skip town. Sensing an opportunity to rid herself of them, Matilda gets her addled parents to sign over the adoption papers to Miss Honey. Unlike the rest of us, Matilda is able to shed her family burden like a snake skin.
It’s first grade every day for Matilda now, and it might well be for Mary, too. Her uncle, Frank, starts dating Mary’s teacher, Miss Bonnie.
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