On the evening that we had the pleasure to screen “A Wrinkle in Time,” director Ava DuVernay appeared in a short video message talking about the film and her journey through it. During that message, she mentioned that she hoped that it would capture and entertain the eleven-year-old in all of us as the story unfolded, and with the Disney machine behind it, I knew that there would be a greater-than-zero chance that would happen.
While it does take some liberties from Madeleine L’Engle’s 1962 book it uses as source material, the major themes of “A Wrinkle in Time” are still there as Meg Murry (relative newcomer Storm Reid) is dealing with being an outcast as the fourth anniversary of the disappearance of her father (Chris Pine) looms. She has a younger brother named Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe), who is nothing short of a prodigy who sees things that Meg cannot. They share their grief with their mother (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), but when a strange friend of Charles Wallace’s named Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon) shows up and lets them know that she knows where their father/husband is, the kids embark on a journey to save him. Along for the ride is Calvin (Levi Miller), one of her schoolmates, as well as Mrs. Whatsits counterparts in Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling) and the all-knowing Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey).
There are many people that are quick to point out the faults of this film, from a run time that probably could be a bit longer to explore some of the sections of the script to other sequences that are just not explained well enough, but for me, I was truly entertained by this film. I do recognize that there are some missteps and miscues, but the “PG” rating should tell parents that there may be some things that need to be explained to some of the younger kids. This is from a Young Adult novel, so this really should be the target audience at a minimum due to some complex concepts that will require a certain level of focus and comprehension.
All of this has been put together by a great cast. While the mention of Winfrey and Witherspoon does give me pause from time to time, I really thought their portrayals here are spot-on and made me feel all of the feels. Along with Kaling, the three Mrs. W’s are the perfect compliment for each other and truly give way to Reid, whose film this truly is. This young lady was nothing short of amazing in her role, and even at a young age commands the screen in a way that sits right in the pocket of acting where it belongs. There was never a “show biz kid” moment here by either her or McCabe, who also work well together. There are also a couple of great turns (even briefly) by Zach Galifianakis and Michael Pena that move the plot along nicely.
This is a great family film that explores themes like believing in yourself, knowing your worth, and never giving up in the face of adversity. My personal inner eleven-year-old (that could also be argued is not really that “inner”) was gleeful the entire time and looks forward to seeing if the other three books in the series are adapted as well.