Hot Take: Filmmaker Ava DuVernay says A Wrinkle In Time is for kids or the kid in you, if you still have a kid in you. I hope you do because I’m still able to find that and A Wrinkle In Time was an amazing adventure.
It’s unusual how you remember some things from your childhood. I remember seeing The Neverending Story for the first time when I was 8. For a while, it was favorite movie of all time. (At that age, my favorite movie was the last movie I saw that I really enjoyed.) There was so much great about it: Atreyu, Bastian, The Childlike Empress, Falkor, The Rock Biter. It was one of the moments of clarity that I knew I’d be watching a lot of movies if the experience was anything like that. A decade later, a more cynical teenage version of myself tried to watch The Neverending Story again. It didn’t work out too well. What was wrong with 8 year-old me that I like such a kid’s movie. Having not been to the movies in quite some time thanks to a cruise to Mexico, Honduras and Belize, A Wrinkle In Time was the first film I had seen since coming back. I had heard the DuVernay commentary about the film being made for the kid in you and decided to take that approach walking in. While it’s easy to be cynical right now, leaving all of that baggage outside the theater can be helpful and, in this case, it might be necessary. A Wrinkle In Time is essentially a movie for children but it doesn’t mean it can’t be enjoyed by adults. The visuals are stunning, the story is whimsical and there are enough strong, meaningful messages (at any age not just children’s age) to make this version of A Wrinkle In Time a successful adaptation of the “unadaptable” children’s book.
13 year-old Meg (Storm Reid) is struggling with adapting to school and home life after the disappearance of her father (Chris Pine), a high profile Astrophysicist who claimed you could travel through space with the power of your mind. Gone now for 4 years, her mother Kate (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) still believes he will be coming back and Meg believes the same although she’s starting to have her doubts. Her adopted brother Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe) who was a baby at the time of the disappearance is incredibly intelligent and caring and wants to help his sister and mother be happy. One night Charles Wallace allows a stranger who identifies herself as Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon) into the house. Caught off-guard, Meg and Kate quickly usher the woman away and instruct Charles Wallace to stop talking to strangers. The next day while Meg is lecturing Charles Wallace to stay away from strangers again, the pair meet up with Calvin (Levi Miller), a young classmate of Meg’s, and Charles Wallace takes them into an abandoned house where the trio meets Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling). Eventually, they end up back in their backyard where they are again joined by Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who and then Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey) who tells the three of them that they are astral travelers and want to help find Meg’s father. Skeptical at first, once they see Charles Wallace disappear with one of the travelers, Calvin and then Meg join them as they tesseract to another planet. This is where the visual beauty of A Wrinkle In Time takes center stage and the whimsy of the tale unfolds.
There’s no need to bore you with more details of the story if you’re familiar with the novel and there’s even less of a need to spoil the story any further if you are unfamiliar. A Wrinkle In Time is a blast for children, especially young girls who have an excellent, relatable female protagonist in Meg. Some have criticized the overuse of CGI and visual effects once the film tesseracts away from Earth but there are plenty of cool scenes and effects here that kids particularly will enjoy. For me, the experience was very similar to Steven Spielberg’s The BFG which was also a Disney product and an adaptation of a classic children’s book. The response from critics and audiences on both films was mixed although critics enjoyed The BFG much more than this (A Wrinkle In Time is currently at a 40% Rotten Tomatoes score while The BFG came in at 75%). The biggest criticism though is its lack of an adult storyline and while some of the best children’s work has an adult undertow, it’s unnecessary to make a successful work for children. A Wrinkle In Time succeeds at that and, in at least this viewer’s opinion, delivers a fun, exciting and satisfying experience if you can find the kid in you to enjoy such a film.
Now that Toys”R”Us is gone, there are even fewer opportunities for adults to feel like a kid again.
You’re too damn jaded to enjoy something for children… Or Chuck E Cheese is good enough.