A Wrinkle In Time, directed by Ava DuVernay (Selma, 13th) has been highly anticipated for months, not only because of the respected director attached to the project, but also because of a star-studded cast comprised of celebrities like Mindy Kaling, Reese Witherspoon, and, of course, Oprah Winfrey. Based on the book by Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle In Time follows the story of Meg Murry (Storm Reid), an anxious girl mourning the disappearance of her scientist father (Chris Pine). One stormy night Meg is introduced to the mysterious and eccentric Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon) by her precocious little brother Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe). Mrs. Whatsit discloses that “tesseracts are real” before disappearing into the night. This revelation leads to an epic journey across universes to find Meg’s father, her self-confidence and ultimately fight a dark force threatening the cosmos.
The film is through and through a children’s movie. At times the script feels as though it’s sprinting forward towards the visually compelling sections, leaving the audience trying to anchor themselves in the establishing realities that had just rushed by. Within the first ten minutes of the film Reese Witherspoon appears to pepper some fantasy into the mix and her high energy, wide-eyed performance comes off as slightly corny. It’s as if she is trying to compete with the consistently solid energy Oprah holds throughout. Mindy Kaling deviates from her usual comedic characters, presenting herself as a magnanimously wise being, and does the best she can despite having to regurgitate quotations for three fourths of the movie. The stars and saviors of the film are the three children, Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin. While Storm Reid delivers a subtle performance of Meg, Deric McCabe offers a sometimes annoyingly genius parallel as Charles Wallace. Levi Miller as accompanying adventure friend Calvin is quite possibly the most consistent and believable performance of the entire journey (although within the realm of this film it’s never really understood what Calvin’s purpose is on this trip). He delivers lines like “I like your hair” to Meg with quiet tenderness and winning eyes that ground the film a little more to reality.
While the film approached platitudes like bullying and self-confidence, it was done with a rather soft hand. This film would be a wonderful way to start a conversation about respecting yourself and others with a child under the age of eleven but unfortunately for anyone older than that, these themes were touched upon too generally. The decision to make the Murry family biracial was a step forward in diversity casting but was, at the end of the day, brushed over so quickly that the effect was minimal.
All in all, A Wrinkle In Time is a colorful adventure with moments of joy and visual awe. For best results, leave all pre-conceived notions outside the theater and sit back to enjoy a film that appeals to child-like wonder.