Meet Matilda. She lives with her mean parents. They ignore her, which is extra tragic because she's shaping up to be a super-genius. In spite of them, she teaches herself to read, and heads to the local library, where Mrs. Phelps sets her up with a very advanced reading list.
Sure, Matilda's home life stinks. But she's a clever girl, so she decides to play tricks on her parents whenever they behave badly. She plays three pranks, gluing her dad's hat to his head, disguising a neighbor's parrot as a ghost, and dying her dad's hair blonde. Yes, these are as awesome as they sound.
Then, Matilda starts going to school. On day one, her teacher Miss Honey quickly realizes how smart Matilda is. Miss Honey even visits the headmistress, the Trunchbull, to ask for help with Matilda, but the Trunchbull ain't havin' it. The same thing happens when Miss Honey visits the Wormwoods. Meanwhile, Matilda and her friend Lavender meet Hortensia, who tells them all about how horrible the Trunchbull is. They see the Trunchbull throw a little girl through the playground by her hair. Another day, the Trunchbull force-feeds a kid named Bruce Bogtrotter an entire cake. This woman is bad news.
Lavender decides to prank the Trunchbull on a class visit. She captures a newt and puts it into the Trunchbull's water glass. The Trunchbull blames Matilda for the newt, which makes our girl so mad she pushes the Trunchbull's water glass over with her mind. Whoa. After class, she tells Miss Honey what she did, and then she gives her teacher a little magic show, which results in Miss Honey inviting little Matilda to tea.
Turns out Miss Honey is really poor. She tells Matilda about her past. After her mum died, her mean aunt straight up ruined her life. In fact, Miss Honey suspects that the aunt might have killed her father, and stolen all Miss Honey's money. Oh, and by the way, her aunt is the Trunchbull. We're totally serious.
Matilda decides to use her telekinetic powers to help Miss Honey, so she practices and practices and practices until finally the day comes when she can get some serious revenge.
The Trunchbull visits Miss Honey's class again. The Trunchbull is acting as abusive as ever when she's interrupted by a piece of chalk that's writing on its own. It writes that the Trunchbull has to stop cheating Miss Honey, give the things she stole back, and get rolling. Or else. Needless to say, the Trunchbull passes out cold.
Soon we find out the Trunchbull obeyed Matilda's instructions. Miss Honey moves home and starts living a decent life again. And Matilda, who visits her every day, gets moved up to the school's highest class. After moving up, Matilda loses her powers. One day, she finds out that her parents are planning to move to Spain, ASAP. Matilda doesn't want to go with them. So Matilda moves in with Miss Honey, where the two live happily (and smartly) ever after.