The movie begins with the presentation of a baby girl to a grumpy man. The narrator tells us about the parents of the child — Harry and Zinnia Wormwood — who live in a nice house and neighborhood and yet are not nice people. The family forgets the baby in the truck of their vehicle when they get home. The kids grew up with them like this, receiving spared attention from them. The kid grows up taking care of herself. When she’s age two, she knows how to do almost everything for herself. Her older brother Micheal would go off to school in the morning. Her father would go off to work where he sold used cars for an unfair price, and her mother would go off to play bingo. Matilda was always left alone. Before the age of four, she already knew how to make pancakes. When she becomes four years old, she asks her father for a book but he tells her she doesn’t need it.
The kid understood that she’d have to get whatever she wanted by herself. When everyone has gone out, Matilda leaves for the library ten blocks away from their home. She continues going there for many weeks. She finishes the books in the children section and moves over to the other parts of the library. She caught the attention of the librarian, who then advised her to get a library card so that she can take as many books as she wants home. She continues like that for two more years. Harry walks in on her reading one day and asks her where the books are from. She says they’re from the library but he doesn’t believe her. He says she’s still four but Matilda insists that she’s six and a half year old. Harry drags her to Zinnia and asks for her age again. Zinnia says she’s four but Matilda says she’s six and old enough to start school. Harry sends her away that she’s still underaged.
Micheal throws snacks on Matilda on her way back to her room, calling her shitface. Matilda starts crying. She wants a friend like the people she reads about. Harry enters the house saying he’s great and awesome. Zinnia asks if they sold cara and Harry says yes. Harry tells Micheal that he’d have to learn the family business very soon and start making his own money. He makes Micheal sit with a pen and paper and starts telling him of how he sold cars. He tells Micheal the amount he bought the cars for and the amount he sold them. When he asks for the total of his profits, Matilda responds first. Harry gets upset because she’s smart and tells her a bad person should be punished. He takes Matilda away and locks her up in her room. According to the narrator, Harry’s words plant an idea in Matilda’s head. He says Matilda plans to punish her parents when they’re bad.
Matilda wakes up early before everyone else and replaces Harry’s hair oil with hydrogen peroxide. Harry applies the potion to his hair later and informs Micheal he’ll be going to the shop with him. Micheal and Zinnia notice Harry’s hair and inform him about it. Harry is shocked to find his hair bleached. Meanwhile, the FBI is tailing Harry and his family because he buys stolen car parts. At his junk shop, Harry demonstrates his way of refurbishing a car for sale. What he does is fraudulent and Matilda calls him out for it. When Matilda insists that people need good cars, Harry emphasizes their differences. Him being older, her being young. He’s being smarter, her being dumb. Zinnia arrives at that moment and announces that she won at the games.
She invites them all out and Matilda hands Harry his hat that she lined with super super glue.
After Zinnia helps him get it off at home, he makes all of them sit and watch TV. When Matilda refuses, he tears up the book and fixes her head to the TV screen. Matilda stares hard at the TV furious until it blows up. Harry sells a car to a school owner who thinks all children are mistakes. When he gets home, Harry tells Matilda that she would be going to school and the little one is overjoyed. She gets to Crunchy hall the next day and is not discouraged by the old building. She is happy to be in the midst of other kids. However, her principal is a mean woman who likes to put kids in the chokey or throw them out the window. Surprisingly, Matilda’s class teacher is a nice woman named Miss Honey. She makes Matilda comfortable on her first day and she doesn’t scold Matilda when she discovers that the little girl can solve large multiplications and loves to read everything.
Miss Honey tries to convince the headmistress to let Matilda into an older class but the older woman misinterpretes it as Miss Honey’s laziness. She threatens to put Matilda in the chokey if Miss Honey doesn’t take care of her. Later that day, Miss Honey visits the Wormwoods and tries to talk to her parents about Matilda’s brightness. They are more interested in TV so Miss Honey leaves a book behind for Matilda. The next day, all the kids are called to the assembly hall. They sit and watch a kid called Bruce get punished. The principal places a giant cake in front of Bruce and commands him to eat it all. She says Bruce stole her cake. When Bruce feels like giving up, Matilda starts cheering for him. Thanks to their cheers, Bruce finishes the cake but the principal is upset. She breaks the tray on Bruce’s head. Matilda gets home very late at night. She tells her dad that the principal kept them until late hours but he doesn’t believe her.
She also tells him that the cops are watching the house but Harry doesn’t believe her. He sends her to her room. The next day, Matilda is with friends when the principal suddenly shows up. She drags Matilda to the chokey saying she and Harry duped her. It seems the car she bought from Harry didn’t live up to expectations. She locks Matilda in there and goes to teach Miss Honey’s class. Miss Honey tells the kids to hide away everything colourful. She instructs Lavender to get water in a jug for the principal. Lavender saw when the principal took Matilda away so she empties a jar with a reptile into the jar of water. While the principal addresses the kids and says her ideal school is the one where there are no kids, Mrs Honey finds out that Matilda is in the chokey and goes to let her free. The principal is shocked by her behaviour.
She asks another kid if she knows how to spell and she kid recites a spelling poem Miss Honey taught them. The poem annoys the principal and she scolds Miss Honey. The principal drinks from the jar and notices the kids laughing at her. She asks them to spill what’s so funny but they continue laughing. She then notices the reptile and she asks for the person who did it. Before she can ask for the culprit, Matilda puts her hand up to correct the principal for mistaking the nute as a snake. The principal takes it that Matilda is guilty and asks if she did it to get back at her. Matilda tries to defend herself but the principal insists that Matilda is at fault and promises to deal with her. She talks about Harry and how he’s a cheat. Meanwhile, Matilda stares hard at the glass of water containing the nute and the cup suddenly tilts and the reptile jumps on the principal.
When the principal is able to get the animal off her body, she accuses Matilda of doing it but Miss Honey asks how Matilda could have done anything if she was sitting in a place all the time. The principal says she’ll watch everyone of them in the class, especially Matilda. As the kids leave the class, Matilda stays back to tell Miss Honey that she did tip the glass over earlier on. Miss Honey doesn’t believe her so Matilda tries to show her but the trick doesn’t work. Miss Honey then invites Matilda to her house. They walk by the principal’s house and Miss Honey tells Matilda the story of the girl who used to live there. The girl lost her mother
at a young age so her father brought in the principal to care for the girl. However, the principal was a wicked woman.
Soon the girl’s father died leaving her to the care of the principal. The girl had to manage on her own until she moved out to a cottage. Miss Honey tells Matilda that she was born into a family that didn’t appreciate her. Matilda notices that Miss Honey lives in a cottage and realizes that she is the little girl from the story. Matilda asks why she hasn’t run away and Miss Honey replies that she cannot leave her kids behind. They watch the principal and discover she’s scared of cats. Matilda sneaks into the house as soon as the principal leaves. As they look around, the principal successfully turns the car around back to the house since it stopped working midway. Matilda and Miss Honey snap out of their exploration when they hear the principal’s voice downstairs.
The principal notices that someone had been at her house and starts looking for them. She almost gets Matilda but Miss Honey distracts her. They are lucky to get out but Miss Honey makes Matilda promise that she would never set foot in the house again. Matilda gets home to see that her mother is entertaining the cops. Zinnia thinks they are dealers in speed boat. Matilda makes Harry yell at her so that she can access her inner powers. She starts practicing and soon she control things with her mind. She catches the cops sneaking on their garage without a warrant and distracts them, a way of buying her father more time. Matilda needed to take care of the principal too. She sneaks into the house in the principal’s house at night. She climbs up the roof closest to the room Miss Honey’s doll was in. She uses binoculars to control the doll out of the room with her eyes.
After that, Matilda plays more tricks on the principal, scaring her. She replaces the principal’s portrait with Miss Honey’s father’s portrait. She makes the clock strike the hour clock three times in less than three minutes. She also steals two chocolate wraps from the chocolate box with her powers. Next, Matilda makes the principal’s shot-put balls roll down the stairs on her own. The principal gets very scared and runs out of the house. Matilda runs away, leaving behind a ribbon. The principal sees the ribbon while she’s struggling with her car. She snatches it and sniffs it. Matilda returns the doll to Miss Honey and shows off her powers to the teacher. Meanwhile, the principal tells Miss Honey that she would be teaching the class. Matilda prepares the class for the principal with her powers.
The principal comes and bullies them again but Matilda uses her powers to write on the board as if it was Magnus’ spirit. She does more tricks and scares the principal away from the school and the house for good. Miss Honey moves back into her house and Matilda visited her often. Then, during one of her visits, Zinnia shows up and announces they’re leaving but Matilda doesn’t want to go. She convinces them to sign her adoption papers instead so that Miss Honey becomes her legal guardian. Zinnia says she never understood Matilda for one day so she’s happy to let her go. Miss Honey becomes principal and the Wormwoods get away with their crime.